Hope Blooms (the North End Community Garden, Greenhouse and Youth Herb Dressing Business)
Organization Sponsor: North End Community Health Centre
"6 years ago, the city gave us a piece of abandoned land in the middle of our community that was full of garbage and weeds. What used to be weeds is now full of herbs and vegetables, all organic, that we use for our dressings. People used to look at us like we are gang people and going nowhere. We started with a small plot and now help look after 27 family plots and 42 youth. We also have our own greenhouse and a commercial kitchen where our magic happens. We love growing a business and its awesome because you don’t have to be a certain age; it doesn’t matter where you come from or what color you are, you can work hard, use your imagination and create something that grows hope. Hope Blooms is a great product and gives back to our community. Our motto is “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
- Tiffany, age 12
Working on food security issues and helping people with chronic illness, Jessie Jollymore, Community Dietician at the North End Community Health Centre, saw that simply telling people about the importance of a healthy diet wasn’t enough, and that if people cannot afford to buy healthy food, they were left feeling helpless. Walking past an abandoned garden site in Warrington Park, adjacent to Uniake Square, Jessie saw an opportunity to begin a grass roots project led by youth that could enable the community to take ownership of their food sources and empower people to make a difference in their own lives and the community at large. Jessie was warned that the garden would be vandalized, or she was shrugged off as being too idealistic, but six years later with a lot of perserverance and community support, the garden is thriving with over 40 youth and their families changing their community for the better, and demonstrating that “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
With the abundance of the first year’s garden, we had more vegetables than people who could eat them! This potential cauliflower crisis however, became a wonderful opportunity to sell some of our produce. Initially we sold vegetables outside of the Halifax North Branch Memorial Library. Then, the Black Business Initiative (BBI) became involved and provided an opportunity for some of the Hope Blooms youth to attend “Business is Jammin’”, a business boot camp. Participants learned business skills that started them thinking differently about the garden, and we decided to use the vegetables to make a product we could sell. Salsa, our first endeavor, was delicious, but too labor intensive and pretty messy! Our next attempt was salad dressings. Jessie’s daughter, professional chef Natasha Jollymore, volunteered to work with the youth and develop the recipes. Using the herbs grown in the garden to make the dressings and selling the product at the Sea Port Farmer’s Market, this became the very successful Hope Blooms youth social enterprise component of the project.
2165 Gottingen St
Government of Canada, Black Business Initiative, Capital Health, IWK Children's Hospital, Halifax Regional Police, Halifax Community Health Board
From its beginning Hope Blooms has been built upon, and grown in relation to, the community’s existing strengths and resources. We believe in hiring local staff from the community in order to provide a space where people can meaningfully contribute to their community and develop and enhance employable skills. We don’t see any other way to do it than for community, by community.
From youth in the community being employed as junior leaders, mothers running the garden maintenance team, to seniors preparing community suppers and other cooking programs, Hope Blooms creates spaces where everyone can contribute and reach beyond their potential.
In 2007 we started with 9 youth and have since grown to over 40 youth, ranging in age from 6-
15, along with 27 families. These youth are:
• Food Producers: growing over 2500 pounds of organic food for their families and community in
• Decision Makers: from the garden to developing and marketing their products, this project is
• Entrepreneurs: From growing the herbs and making the dressings, to selling their products
directly, they are flourishing young leaders.
• Grass-roots philanthropists: All profits are given back. A portion goes into building their
scholarship fund for inner city youth and contributing to community through their soups for senior program to expanding inner city gardens for families to grow food.
• Agents of change with directly impacting 9 of the determinants of health.
Hope Blooms is built upon four main pillars that inform and support our strategy: social entrepreneurship, ecological agriculture, health, and relationship cohesion. Through their own actions and hard work, youth learn how to grow food, produce and successfully market value-added products, grow a small social enterprise from the ground up, and give back to their community.
Through this youth-led, community-based model, these young leaders are creating a paradigm shift in their own neighborhood: one that challenges the patterns of dependency and isolation with the power of ownership and family. By giving them the tools, encouragement and hands on mentoring to become their own active change agents, possibilities are abundant and actualized. Youth are reconnected with basics as they take the lead in planning the garden, growing the food, cooking meals for the community, building relationships with their peers and elders, and supplying their community with healthy food choices.
Hope Blooms was founded in 2008 by Jessie Jollymore, Community Dietician at the North End Community Health Centre, located in the inner city of the North End of Halifax