Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet 13-year-old Naudia of Florida. Naudia used her award to create My Little Garden Project with a vision to teach children at risk of going hungry how to plant, maintain, and grow healthy foods that they can harvest and consume. Since beginning her project, Naudia has become more aware of environmental preservation and sustainability. In the future she hopes to build gardens with each one including a section devoted to planting and growing native plants that are acclimated to that region. She planted her first garden at C.A. Weis Elementary School and recruited students from local middle and high schools to assist with construction, preparation, planting, and educational as well as informative services.
- How many volunteers participated in your project? How many hours were involved? The number of volunteers differed at different stages of the project. The number ranged from 2-15. Land and box preparation took an estimated 8-15 hours. Planting took an estimated 8-10 hours. Maintaining is an ongoing project that takes 1-2 hours per visit.
- What did you learn from this experience? I learned many things through this project. I was able to teach children how to grow their own healthy foods and harvest them. I learned that children thrive on self-worth, and I feel through their involvement in this project, they felt self-worth because they learned that they could accomplish new things on their own. I also learned that when you put your passion into action, you can accomplish anything. This project is an on-going project, and I hope that I can continue its efforts for a very long time. There are many children in the world who are fighting hunger daily, and this project has allowed me to be a tiny piece in a much larger puzzle of combating childhood hunger.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? I have already made plans with local foster care agencies to plant spring and fall gardens in 2018, and I also plan to keep maintaining previous gardens and projects. I have already purchased all the seeds and materials to be used in the planting for the 2018 year. I hope to continue impacting lives by helping fight the childhood hunger epidemic.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went? As this is an on-going project, I can summarize what has been accomplished and what the goals are for the future of the project. The gardens are completed by preparing the soil for planting. This is done by tilling the soil, pulling the grass and weeds, building holding boxes around the area with landscape timbers and building mounds for the seeds to be planted in. Then on planting days, we plant the seeds in the boxes and mounds and set up sprinklers, etc. The maintaining consists of weeding and watering and we provide a maintenance chart for the children to guide them. We also give sun hats and gardening aprons to the children for fun. Throughout this year we will plant at least 2 more gardens following this same method. These are set to be built at a foster facility.
- How was the Karma for Cara grant beneficial in the completion of your project? The grant has been amazing in providing funding for materials needed to complete the project. Without this grant, I would have been unable to maintain the first garden and build the subsequent gardens. This is an amazing program to help youth make a difference in the lives of others.