Eyes, Ears, Hands & Heart

There are many benefits to gardening for any child, but especially for one who is an orphan. Besides being inherently vulnerable, research shows that children who are raised in privation have an increased risk for a variety of developmental and behavioral issues. Not only has gardening been long  recognized as a therapeutic healing activity which positively impacts mental health and well-being, studies show that for children especially, it significantly increases self-understanding, maturity, self-esteem, responsibility and interpersonal skills. The goal of this project is to bring these benefits of gardening and farming to orphaned children around the world. Paired with my farming knowledge, culinary skills and passion for youth development, I will work with orphanages to build organic gardens that will be a crucial component and positive force to the development of all the kids involved.

My first project will be at Aadarana, located right outside of Hyderabad in southeastern India. Upon arriving in India I will be spending my first three months WOOF’ing (Worldwide Organization of Organic Farmers) in the area. This program connects people who want to live and learn on organic farms with people who want to share their lifestyles, teach new skills and welcome volunteer help. As a volunteer I will be working hand in hand with three different local farm communities to gain a richer understanding of the harvest season, the best way in which to grow the most bountiful crops, and a more comprehensive grasp of the land in general.

I will be blogging and posting on social media about my entire experience from farm to table. I will be creating and sharing recipes for the tastiest and simplest meals using only ingredients that I have harvested or sourced from the land I am working on. You will get a glimpse into the lives of families around the world as I work alongside them creating daily provisions. This will be a unique and personal opportunity to see how communities come together to cultivate one of the most important aspects of their daily life, the food that sustains them.

Simultaneously during my weekly three days off, I will be spending some time to better understand the purchasing market, the city’s water systems, the people that govern the community and most importantly, the children I will be working with. My time off will be used to build my relationship and trust with the kids and staff of volunteers. I will be spending time educating them on the project and building their enthusiasm. My time will also be spent volunteering in the kitchen, putting my skills and passion for cooking to use helping to prepare meals, getting a better understanding of what foods the orphanage supplies and learning how to enhance the meal plans using what will be produced on site. Via the video updates you will be with me in the garden, chopping vegetables in the kitchen and working with the kids every step of the way.

After I have gained the appropriate amount of knowledge I will be spending the last three months living at the orphanage and working toward our goal every day. By building a small sustainable farm at an orphanage we are not only giving kids an outlet for knowledge, growth, responsibility and excitement. We are giving them healthy food to consume when the budget is at a minimum. This is a gift that will surpass days, weeks and years. It is an ever growing gift. With the appropriate funding it is something that will surpass our lifetime and impact them, and future generations for decades.

I want to be the eyes, ears, hands and heart for all of you that are not able to pursue a project like this.  I take seriously my role as steward for the resources entrusted to me by your generosity.  Through my blogs and social media you will see firsthand how this project is progressing and how your support is making a difference. I will also have a very concise explanation of every dollar spent through an appropriate spreadsheet. Every dollar spent will be explained as I embark on this journey. You will have an opportunity to see how a community across the world comes together to cultivate one of the most important aspects of their daily life, self sustainability.  You will meet the children whose lives you are affecting.  Our future starts with the children of today. Lets impact them in more ways than one.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” -Audrey Hepburn


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Jenny Robinson 
Put-in-Bay, OH
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