Urban Roots Blooms in St. Paul

Written by Susan Marchand Higgins

“Bloom where you are planted.” Gift stores display the phrase on cards, framed in posters and painted on rocks. Google it and you will see it is attributed to St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, who derived it from a letter to the Corinthians, as well as many articles about personally growing in your own space.

For years in St. Paul, Urban Roots has helped young people bloom where they are planted. These youths become rooted in the community through planting seeds, watching them grow and growing along with the plants. Young people from ages 14 to 21 in the Market Garden program learn to plant, cultivate, and harvest crops for distribution at farmers’ markets and restaurants. The Conservation Corp restores green spaces on the east side by removing invasive plants and replant native species.

These programs not only teach basic gardening skills and improve the environment, the participants learn to improve their lives. From becoming educated about the importance of healthier eating to leading tours through parks, these youths develop skills that give them direction that positively impact their lives and that of their family that will last a lifetime.

Jessica learned about water filtration, the benefits of certain plants, and now understands why organic food is better. She has developed a more positive attitude about working hard and has become more social. She hopes her experience will help her get into college and get other jobs.

Another participant, Devon, learned how to establish career goals and skills as well as financial literacy and life skills. After attending St. John’s University, he wants to build a resource center for kids and motivate them to get an education. He has also improved his eating habits as well as that of his family. “We started our own garden at home so we can avoid purchasing produce at the grocery store.”

Urban Roots also has affected Serena’s family positively. “How my family eats has changed a lot. I like to eat fresher foods now. My Mom always buys canned vegetables because they’re cheaper, but I bring home fresh produce from the garden and make her use it!” She also believes teaching kids about nutrition will have a future effect. She plans to become a registered nurse so she can do her part in paying it forward.

Tanya’s participation impacted her family as well. “I’ve changed. Before, I just ate. I ate a lot of fast food. Now, I think about what I’m eating and how it affects my body. I’m also cooking more. All of my brothers have been through the Urban Roots internship program and we cook for ourselves and our family. Our parents are changing their eating habits, too.”

The work Nellie has done at Urban Roots has had a “big, positive impact on the environment and people. We visit our schools to teach younger students about healthy eating. Our Conservation Corp is beautifying local parks.”

Urban Roots has allowed Jessica, Devon, Serena, Tanya, Nellie and countless others to bloom where they are planted by quite literally blooming through planting.

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