Although the weather was a bit overcast and dreary, the Axum Serve team consisting of both community and team members arrived at the Winter Garden Community Garden on Tuesday morning with bright, smiling faces full of excitement and anticipation. The very first collaborative volunteer day was finally here, and nothing could put a damper on the goodness overflowing all around.
Axum Coffee exists to bring hope to hard places, specifically in the area of improving humans’ lives in our community and beyond. This month, our z has been Grow Orlando, a local non-profit organization that grows teens through plants. The organization’s approach to building youths’ knowledge and skills around urban micro-farming, coupled with life skills such as decision-making, nutrition knowledge and financial literacy, can contribute to improved nutrition and food security for households and communities. Investing in the most at-risk and disadvantaged teens is also an avenue to cultivating more participation in their families and communities.
As one of our initiatives in January, Axum Coffee organized our inaugural Serve Day with Grow Orlando at the Winter Garden Community Garden. Grow Orlando regularly plants and grows at the community garden, so we put out a limited invitation due to Covid restrictions to our community and our team, and the response was both exciting and heartwarming.
On the morning of January 26th, 2021, the team of seven arrived and got right to work at the community garden, alongside Grow Orlando teens and organization leadership. The two needed tasks for the day were harvesting compost soil and preparing a bed for new vegetable planting.
Axum Community volunteer Tina took time to share her knowledge of the incredible benefits of composting and how the process works, as she and Axum team volunteer Kettley dug out the nutrient-rich soil from the bottom of the compost bin.
Sarah, a community volunteer and retired engineer who has been working at the community garden for a year, explained much about the garden to our Axum community volunteer Jeff Perera of Jeff’s Bagel Run, Grow Orlando teens, and Axum team members Gelene, Kaycie, Kayla and Mike as they mulched and prepped a new bed together. Sarah shared how the garden never has to purchase vegetable seeds – they gather seeds from existing vegetables and re-plant back into the garden – and how much of the community garden’s produce is donated to local food banks around the community.
Grow Orlando teens who plant and grow the beds have the opportunity to sell their produce as part of their program as well.
The day ended with the Axum Serve team a bit dusty, but full of moving stories and a sense of accomplished pride for the community garden, the teens of Grow Orlando, and volunteers who work there regularly. “I live in Winter Garden and I’ve heard of the community garden, but I had never been there,” said Axum team member Gelene. “Now I know there is always something needing to be done, and I love that I got to be a part of helping Grow Orlando teens and the other volunteers.”
“Hearing Sarah and the other volunteer’s stories, how long they have been they’ve been working at the community garden and why, really made an impact on me,” said Axum team member Kettley. “I can’t wait to be part of more Axum Serve days for our Goodness Partners in the future.”
Our team would like to thank Axum community members Jeff and Tina for joining us for our very first Axum Serve day and making it such a great success.
There will be many more Serve days upcoming this year, stay tuned to our social media platforms and our website for announcements of new opportunities.
To learn more about Grow Orlando and how you can help their mission of growing teens through plants, visit groworlando.org.