Life lessons learned gardening: Milwaukee youth benefit in many ways
MILWAUKEE - No gardener likes a weed. On a spring Saturday morning, weeds are torn, twisted, and tossed from the We Got This garden located on 9th and Ring in Milwaukee.
"It’s about time to start planting," Roshaun Collins said while working in the urban garden.
"It’s endless opportunities when you can grow your own food," Collins said.
Eight years working in the garden, Collins has grown too.
"It opened me up to new things I thought I’d never try or experience," Collins said.
In one of the city's poorest ZIP codes, the We Got This garden has become a haven.
"As long as they have their hands in the soil, they can keep them off the trigger of a gun," said Andre Lee Ellis
Ellis started the garden and program, giving Black boys a chance to learn about gardening while offering community and opportunities. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the important work to make a difference continues.
"I’m not the birth dad, I’m the Earth dad," Ellis said.
Andre Lee Ellis
Ellis is a male role model and mentor to countless youth, helping cultivate conversations on ways to improve the city and help cut down the violent crime surging in Milwaukee.
"One thing we need to do is start accentuating the positive. There are five more good young people than bad," Ellis said.
In early 2021, We Got This announced a merger with Running Rebels Community Organization. Both organizations work to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth.
"It’s so important for us as the adults to help our young people see the light at the end of the tunnel, so they don’t feel they have to choose that negative route," Victor Barnett, executive director and founder of Running Rebels said.
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As weeds are pulled from the soil, life lessons are learned from the flowers and plants that begin to grow.
"Pretty much like people. When people of all different colors get together and try to make something happen it usually does if they do it with love and peace," Ellis said.