with gallery: Growing Hope Center takes root in new home in Ypsilanti
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Growing Hope, the nonprofit that empowers people to learn and teach skills related to farming and gardening, has officially planted its own seeds that have taken root at 922 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti.
Supporters gathered Saturday for a grand opening celebration for the Growing Hope Center, the organization's home, a dream that has taken five years to reach fruition.
The celebration Saturday afternoon included activities like potting up seedlings, painting on canvas and the introduction of the bicycle powered blender with which people can blend their own smoothies. There also was a ceremony marking the grand opening.
"The center is a physical manifestation of what we believe in," said Growing Hope's Executive Director Amanda Edmonds. "We bought the house in 2007 and through volunteer expertise have been renovating it for 4 1/2 years. Now we have full occupancy. A dozen of us on staff have offices, we have a lending library of tools and materials in our growing gardens programs, a lending library of books, and what will be a Michigan Department of Agriculture certified kitchen."
The property has a quarter acre working urban farm with a 3,000 square foot hoop house and an adobe oven built by hand in the backyard. Edmonds says the center will offer classes in the kitchen and the farm already is being used for demonstrations and training.
Sharon Sheldon, one of the original board members of Growing Hope, says that it was Edmonds' vision that led to this day.
"At first buying a center seemed out of our reach," said Sheldon. "When Amanda saw this property, she thought the location was perfect. Once I had the opportunity to see the planning studies and we had environmental testing done, we knew it was right because there's easy access to the highway, to downtown and a number of neighborhoods. We felt the center could shine a positive light on the city."
Sheldon says it has taken a lot of fundraising and grants to get to this point along with all the people who have donated their time.
"People feel connected to the mission of the organization," said Sheldon.
To what does Edmonds attribute the growth of Growing Hope?
"Endless determination," she said about the organization that was born in 2003 out of a college project Edmonds did while at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Growing Hope has an annual budget of close to $425,000, and a mission to: "Help people improve their lives and communities through gardening and healthy food access. Growing Hope fosters learning, improves nutrition, encourages self-reliance, and promotes positive community futures."