Ashley's Green Thumb
Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
Amazing Port Street (Garden Project)
Ashley Cooper wields a shovel or a pick ax—her tools of choice—when she’s not busy going to school or frequenting a local playground. Though only 12 years old, she and some friends already know more about planting flowers than many adults. Five years ago, Ashley discovered the Amazing Port Street garden project at Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Baltimore and was opened to an exciting new world of vegetables, fruits, and flowers.
Vacant lots in the church’s neighborhood used to be filled with trash and animal excrement. Now, after the church decided to make those lots a breeding ground for new life, they are home to beautiful gardens maintained largely by people like Ashley who wanted to make a difference in her community and help provide food for low-income neighbors.
She loves planting cabbage and squash and waiting for days and weeks until the fruits of her labor come to full bloom. Learning about various tools and techniques used in gardening has been the most rewarding extracurricular activity of her childhood. Someday, she hopes to have her own garden where she will plant sunflowers, tulips, strawberries, peppers, squash, and lettuce—enough to provide a healthy source of food for herself and her family.
“I like being powerful and doing something good with the power,” Ashley says. “If someone doesn't have a garden, I would recruit them by telling them that it is fun—hard work and fun.”