Formerly homeless youth are growing new roots while also reducing stormwater run-off.
“This is all the diseased stuff,” Keith Wolftail said.
Wolftail, 22, is learning a lot about life from gardening. A resident of LaBaTeYeh Youth Home in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Wolftail often helps around the garden.
He is learning to spot the dying parts and remove them so new life can grow.
“Otherwise they’ll end up completely dead,” he said.
The garden at LaBaTeYeh Youth Home grows food for the transitional housing facility. The home specializes in helping Native American youth, who are seven times more likely to face homelessness.
“There are many youth with a history of foster care and history of being homeless for a long time. They come from families who are homeless or in poverty or are struggling with multiple barriers,” said Director Jenna Gearhart.
It’s why the garden is more than vegetables. It’s a place of identity and independence, and an example of a growing movement toward green infrastructure in urban areas.
“Having greenery around reduces stress, provides more positive self-esteem. I love that there is real tangible evidence to show that green infrastructure can do those things on a social level, on a psychological level, on an emotional level for people,” said Majora Carter, an urban revitalization specialist.
Carter’s work in the South Bronx and elsewhere has transformed concrete into community.
“All the things growing here, they’ll end up on someone’s plate tonight or tomorrow night,” Wolftail said.
The latest to sprout are several new rain cisterns. Thanks to a grant from five local rotary clubs totaling $14,000, the cisterns trap 6,000 gallons of water from the roof. They reduce stormwater run-off that would pollute local creeks.
“All of those things, when you add them up, that’s when they have the impact. The more, the merrier,” Carter said.
Wolftail says he’d be homeless if not for LaBaTeYeh, and he’s learning a lot, even from the vegetables that can’t talk.
“I’ve always set things back. I’ve always been like, I can do it tomorrow,” he said.
It’s the garden that’s taught him to plant seeds now. And then, watch them grow.
For more information on how to get involved in similar projects, visit stewardshippartners.org.
To learn more about available resources for rain gardens, cisterns and other green infrastructure tools, visit 12000raingardens.org and click on the resources tab.
Copyright 2017 KING