This past fall two of our village mentoring programs laid the foundations for a fantastic new activity: a club! Clubs give DREAM mentees an opportunity to learn new skills and develop interest in an activity alongside their friends and mentors. Sharing a mutual interest with friends can help strengthen relationships and create shared goals. It also conveniently provides structure to activity planning for mentors, and gives them another way of engaging DREAM mentees outside of DREAM Fridays.
Philadelphia: Beckett Gardens Baking Club
Getting started back in October, the baking club at Beckett Gardens was begun by Temple University mentor/student Kelly Gibson, who brought to DREAM a love of baking from high school and a massive sweet tooth. Kelly and seven DREAM mentees chose Apple Turnovers for the club’s first bake, which if you aren’t familiar consist of spiced apples inside a puff pastry with a drizzle of frosting on top. The first task was peeling the 40 apples donated for the occasion, which while daunting made for an excellent amount of food to go around.
Kelly hopes to hold regular bake sales with the food from the club to help DREAM Beckett Gardens with fundraising. She also wants to expand the club, plan a budget for each bake, and earn money for more ingredients. She hopes mentees can find the process of baking both rewarding and relaxing. In her opinion, it is always better to find the ingredients and throw together your own dessert rather than buying it pre-made, and that it's ok if it doesn’t come out perfect. The value is in the process.
Berkshires: Community Garden Club
Last summer mentors in the Berkshires region received a grant to make a community gardening club. Kaylyn Riddell was one of the mentors who helped write the proposal for the grant, and after being hired as an Afterschool Enrichment Coordinator she is now spearheading plans for a community garden to be in place outside the community center this spring. Fresh out of college, she is excited to implement her studies on food insecurity and regenerative agriculture. She wants the DREAM mentees to learn how beautiful it can be to have a garden and the steps it takes to create one.
The garden is still very much in the planning phase, but Kaylyn says she is considering the construction either of open beds or more flexible grow boxes. Grow boxes are made of similar material to green houses and range from small to large dome shapes. These would keep plants warm throughout the year and allow for the gardening club to continue even in winter months. She hopes long term to have vegetables grown in the garden for snacking and cooking events, and to have conversations with mentees on food distribution. She knows the mentees are probably aware food comes from farms, but looking deeper into where this food is located and distributed could shed light on unfair treatment between certain populations. She also wants to show the benefits of growing sustainable foods yourself or locally.
Needless to say, these plans are ambitious and will be a wonderful addition to the activities that DREAM offers in the Bennington area.