Growing Our Future, a community program based in Bemidji that supplies free seasonal gardening kits to local youth, is seeking funds for its next round of gardening kits.
Written By: Pioneer Staff Report | 1:28 pm, Oct. 11, 2021
Growing Our Future, a community program based in Bemidji that supplies free seasonal gardening kits to local youth, is seeking funds for its next round of gardening kits.BEMIDJI -- Growing Our Future, a community program based in Bemidji that supplies free seasonal gardening kits to local youth, is seeking funds for its next round of gardening kits.
The Ground Our Future program was founded by Bemidji resident Bridget Westrum in January 2021 and began by giving out more than 130 free “starter garden” kits that included everything from detailed planting information to seeds and soil. All youth age 18 and younger were eligible to receive a kit.
"It was a huge success," Westrum said in a release. "Growing Our Future brought knowledge of gardening and a broadened sense of self-sustainability into the lives of 130-plus families. I was in awe. This newfound success expanded my expectations for the program and the goals for this organization. Thus began the process of our upcoming batch of kits."
The next round of kits, available for anyone 18 years and younger, will be free indoor herb gardening kits, which will include a grow light, a window pot, soil, five to eight seed varieties, a spray bottle for watering and plant markers.
"Our goal for this batch of kits is to reach 200 youth from in and around Bemidji," Westrum said. "It is so important for youth to have the opportunity to garden and be self-sustainable."
The program is entirely youth-led and donation-funded. The fundraising goal for the next project is $3,000 and so far they are a third of the way to reaching that goal. According to the release, donations will be primarily used to purchase grow light bulbs and window pots. Any money left over will go toward soil or other supplies for future batches of kits (like seeds, seed starting trays, spades, etc).
Westrum is seeking the community's help in gaining more funds to reach the target goal. She also mentioned that they recently overfilled their barn used for storage, so are on the lookout for any enclosed sheds that are in decent condition. The shed would be used to hold kit supplies and soil bags.
"Please consider making a donation to help create the next generation of gardeners," she said. "They are the future."
How to donate:
visit their Facebook page @growyourownfuture,
Or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Listen to the interview here: www.kaxe.org/sustainability/2021-03-10/bridget-westrum-cultivating-a-love-of-gardening-with-growing-our-future
People talk all the time about how we aren't going to have a future... I sort of want a future... a good one!... and I want everyone else to, too! So, I might as well start somewhere and just get some stuff done...and everyone should be able to garden. - Bridget Westrum, 16
She had never grown anything before, but when the Covid-19 isolation blues hit last spring, Bridget Westrum decided to try a garden. Her venture quickly grew into a passion. Today, she’s spreading her love of growing food with other kids in the Bemidji area. Her Growing Our Future initiative offers free gardening starter kits to anyone under 18. Kits include seeds, seed trays, spray bottles, and more. In addition to the kits, she’s organized a gardening hotline for kids to connect with older gardeners when they have questions, and she’s establishing a gardening arsenal young growers can access for various gardening needs. Her initiative sprouted when she learned of a grant opportunity with the Minnesota Youth Council. Learn about Bridget and her mission to create a brighter future with her Growing Our Future project in this segment!
Have kids in your life that would like a gardening kit? Connect with Bridget on her Growing our Future Facebook page!
Lakeland Public TV: Betsy Melin — Mar. 3 2021
One Bemidji student decided to start a program that gives out free gardening kits to anyone under 18 to start them on their journey of gardening. The program is called “Growing our Future.”
16-year-old homeschooled student Bridget Westrum was new to gardening. COVID-19 gave her the extra time needed to start growing her own produce and plants, which led to her getting involved in plant forums online and allowed her to start giving back.
Westrum is also a member of the Minnesota Youth Council, so when she found out about a grant to create a program, she immediately thought of her new hobby. So far, she has 90 youth signed up for the kits and has the materials to make over 130 kits.
She’s not doing this all alone, as she has had the help of community donations as well as family, including 13-year-old sister Logan. The sisters hope to teach other people their age about the importance of sustainability.
The kits are designed not only to have everything you need to get started, including a seed starter tray, 8-12 different kinds of seeds, and spray bottles, but it will also include a guide to teach young people to learn more about how to help something grow.
Those interested in donating materials can contact Growing our Future at email@example.com. Those interesting in donating money to the project can via GoFundMeor by mailing a check to P.O. Box 753, Bemidji, MN, 56619. More information on the project can be found on the Growing Our Future Facebook page.
Bemidji homeschool junior Bridget Westrum has received a grant and many local donations to fund her project “Growing Our Future,” through which she plans to distribute free garden kits to anyone under 18 in the area.
Written By: Hannah Olson | 7:10 am, Feb. 27, 2021
BEMIDJI -- Bemidji homeschool junior Bridget Westrum fell in love with gardening thanks to the support of older and wiser Bemidji gardeners during the summer of quarantine.
Now, she hopes to help other young people do the same.
The 16-year-old received a grant and many local donations to fund her project “Growing Our Future,” through which she plans to distribute free garden kits to anyone under 18 in the area.
GETTING HER START:
Westrum’s journey with gardening began relatively recently. She decided to take up backyard gardening after having free time this summer since COVID-19 kept her mostly at home.
“We haven’t had time to grow anything before, so thought we might as well give it a try,” she said. “I just started gardening last year and loved it so much, (now) I want to teach other people my age.”
She soon became a member of the Facebook group Grow Bemidji, where she received advice and support from more experienced area gardeners.
“The whole group taught me how to garden pretty much,” she said with a laugh.
Westrum is no stranger to taking initiative and getting the ball rolling. She is a member of the Minnesota Youth Council representing Congressional District 7. There she works toward increasing the youth voice at the Capitol and creating change for the students of the district.
When she learned of an opportunity to apply for a grant through the youth council, she sprang into action. She titled her new idea, “Growing Our Future.”
“I’ve done a lot of work with youth in our area,” Westrum said of her budding project. “I want to give more young people that opportunity. The goal is to provide free gardening and seed starting kits to all youth ages 18 and under, from in and around Bemidji, regardless of their living situation or financial status.”
Sharing suppliesWestrum’s back shed is filling up with seed starting trays, pots, soil and seed packets. Since mid-January, Westrum has been collecting and assembling gardening kits, which she hopes to distribute in mid-March.
The Bemidji gardening community seems to already be all about sharing -- advice, supplies, seeds and vegetables. Westrum’s hoping to share some of the love with youth in the area.
She is currently maintaining what she calls a “gardening arsenal” in her garden shed, which is piled high with buckets, pots, shovels and spades. This arsenal will be available to the youth participants upon request.
For those who are interested in participating, yet don’t have a yard, Westrum said she hopes to provide planters and container-friendly seeds to plant at apartment buildings and more.
“Don't have space to garden in the ground? Live in an apartment building? No worries. We will work with you until we figure out a solution,” she said. “I want these kits to be as accessible as possible for everyone.”
Each kit will include 8-12 varieties of seeds, containers for container gardening if needed, soil, plant markers, seed starting trays, planting instructions and gardening guides.
Sharing wisdomWestrum isn’t alone in this effort. Her sister and her cousin are helping her assemble kits, and she’s seen a lot of community support thus far.
Plus, Grow Bemidji has her back.
“I’ve got experienced gardeners from around Bemidji and mostly from the ‘Grow Bemidji’ Facebook page, that have volunteered to create a gardening hotline, that I will share with the youth,” Westrum explained.
She has collected a team of 15 or so experienced gardeners in the area who have volunteered their time to assist youth with their kits over the phone. Each person who applies for a gardening kit will receive a couple of phone numbers from these willing helpers, in case they run into a problem.
In the future, Westrum hopes to continue this effort long after this spring and summer. She wants to explore making indoor kits for fall and winter, so people can grow their own herbs year-round.
“I’m going to keep applying for grants so I can keep making kits,” she explained. “I’ll just keep making kits as long as I can.”
How to applyA link is currently live for youth ages 18 and younger to apply for a gardening kit.
Westrum said she hopes to hold distribution dates in the Bemidji Target parking lot in March. She also noted she has budgeted to ship or deliver some kits as needed, to make sure people without transportation can still take part.
“I’ve just recently started this project in early January and I’ve already had so much support from the community. The project is entirely funded on donations.” Westrum said. “I’ve gotten a lot of donations from the community so far -- everyone is super excited -- and I am too.”
If interested in donating new or used gardening materials, seed starting trays, hoses, gloves, seeds or fertilizer, send Westrum an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those interested in contributing to the project financially can do so via GoFundMe by mailing a check to P.O. Box 753, Bemidji, MN, 56619. More information on Westrum’s project can be found on the Growing Our Future Facebook page.
114962457269733 (Facebook post link)
Bridget Westrum is a Senior from Bemidji, MN. She is the founder of “Growing Our Future,” as well as the content creator.