A group of kids wiggle their way through the doors of Floating Gardens Ltd. and spill into the entry. They take off their shoes and slip into rubber ones designated safe for the greenhouse.
This is a field day and the last day of Bread for Success’s first year. Bread for Success is an after-school project, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, supported through Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) Global Family education program.
Today, the kids are here to learn about how vegetables are grown. Chris Buhler, co-owner of the greenhouse, leads them to a bright room where tomatoes and eggplants twist their way up to the ceiling.
Kaytee Edwards, who runs the Bread for Success program for MCC, points to another staff person. “Guess how many Myriams go into a full-sized tomato plant?”
The kids throw out some guesses. “Six to seven,” she says. “Tomato plants can grow up to 35–40 feet!”
Most of the participants are new immigrant, refugee and Indigenous children from Meadowgreen, a historically underserved neighbourhood in Saskatoon. Bread for Success operates from a rented apartment suite in the neighbourhood. Staff and volunteers help children with homework and teach them about nutrition and cooking.
Bread for Success is part of a new approach by MCC. Global Family supports education around the world but, until this year, has not run programs in North America. “I think at times we can be focused on these important needs far away and then lose sight of what’s right around our corner,” said Lynn Longenecker, education coordinator at MCC.
To address these local needs Global Family is now supporting three programs in North America – Bread for Success in Saskatoon, Gee Gush Koon (You Can Do It) in Kashechewan First Nation in Ontario, and Kingdom Builders Network in Philadelphia.
At the greenhouse in Saskatoon, everyone gathers around as Buhler holds out a mullein plant, pointing to white Dicyphus bugs crawling around the green leaf. He explains these small winged creatures eat harmful insects, particularly white fly that can devastate crops.
Field trips like this are novel. Many of these kid’s parents work several jobs to make ends meet. That means the children don’t often get to leave home. They are sometimes left unattended and during these moments can get into trouble with their friends.
Bread for Success provides a safe space for kids to learn and spend time with their friends. “Sometimes we think about it as a restorative justice program because kids are learning alternatives to violence,” says Edwards.
This fits with the kid’s club rules:
1. Respect each other
2. Respect the space
3. Respect the leaders.
The tour at the greenhouse is almost over. Edwards passes out baby cucumbers. The kids chomp on the green snack as they walk up to the Buhler’s house for supper. On the menu tonight? Micro-greens salad from the greenhouse, with pulled pork sandwiches. Another delicious, healthy meal idea the kids can take home to their parents.
To view story on MCC’s site: http://mcccanada.ca/stories/global-program-goes-local
The Appleby ministry has roots in Bethany College’s service learning projects, celebrated at 2015’s Discipleship and Context conference.