Food Grown Home and
Kind Scholars Mentoring and Tutoring:
Our Biggest Accomplishments from 2021
FLS programs: Food Grown Home and Kind Scholars Mentoring and Tutoring share common purpose: improving academic and career skill sets which lead to better health and mental health outcomes. Consistent with improving health outcomes is our initiative Food Grown
Home (FGH).

The common thread connecting participants from Food Grown Home Clubs at the Albert Einstein High School, Easter Seals pre-K class, Gaithersburg Youth Centers, Asbury Methodist Village and hundreds of households throughout Montgomery County to our organization is their desire to expand their knowledge on how they can grow food indoors—

Picture below: Robertson Youth Center, students learning about Sustainability and Agriculture with FLS created slides

(picture of
potato plant grown by a FGH grower in 2021)
In this newsletter, we take a moment to highlight our top ten greatest accomplishments and milestones of 2021.

  1. Interviewed by The MoCo Show & WDVM Local News

After posting our call for recruitment on our social media pages in February, Michelle Katz from The MoCo Show, a local news organization reporting stories specifically from Montgomery County, reached out to us and asked if she could write a story on our initiative. 

After posting the story to The MoCo Show’s Instagram and website, we received an even greater outpouring of support from our local community members and closed our recruitment opportunity due to too many applications! We are extremely thankful that Michelle Katz chose to promote our initiative and help us gain additional publicity. 
 In addition to this, Randi Bass from WDVM Local News reached out to us to schedule an interview to discuss the mission of Food Grown Home. We were honored to have the chance to speak with Bass about our goals to address the current food insecurity crisis through futuristic and sustainable indoor farming practices such as hydroponic and aeroponic growing methods. Watch our interview here!

Achievements, Goals, and Partnerships

We are super excited to share our first newsletter of 2022, our Achievements
and Goals. Students enrolled in our Food Grown Home and Kind Scholars Mentoring and Tutoring Partnerships attend
Briggs Chaney Middle School,
Easter Seals pre-K, Gaithersburg High School,
Olde Towne and Robertson Youth Centers, and the Treehouse, CAC of Montgomery County
Student Tutors attend Gaithersburg High School, Montgomery College and University of Maryland

pictures of University of Maryland, Montgomery College and Gaithersburg High School students tutoring students attending Gaithersburg High School after-school.

Special Thank you to the GHS Career Center for arranging classroom space

Location: Gaithersburg High School

We are excited to be offering Virtual tutoring to our newest partner the Treehouse
2021 FGH locations included Olde Towne Youth Center “study bubble” (in-person) and the MAEC Alive! after-school program at E. Brook Lee MS (virtual 2020-21).
2. Our First Food Grown Home Pilot Initiative 

FLS is determined to improve the health of our community by increasing access to local, home-grown food. By informing youth and families on the possibilities of growing healthy food at home and providing growing essential supplies, we help individuals experience the benefits of self-sufficiency and improved independence. FGH intentionally creates partnerships that enable us to connect with members of diverse communities and populations, including youth, seniors, food-insecure families, and individuals with disabilities.

The common thread connecting these individuals to each other and our project is their desire to expand their knowledge on how they can grow food indoors—that’s where we step in! In this newsletter, we take a moment to highlight our greatest accomplishments and milestones of 2021

Adult participants were enrolled as well. The adult and youth participants were provided with nutritionally-dense food growing kits, growing instructions, and a list of sample curated recipes at no cost. In this cohort, we began by growing hydroponic broccoli sprouts, radish sprouts, and fenugreek sprouts using mason jars and sprouting lids. After the completion of our first round of growing projects, we distributed a feedback survey to our participants and found that 84% of respondents felt considerably more knowledgeable about growing their own food. We were super excited to have 223 Montgomery County residents participate through the Instagram Announcement. We also had 80 students and FLS staff participating through in-person and virtual after-school programming.
Respondents also noted that food growing offered a meaningful bonding experience with their family during the pandemic and that they felt empowered by their newly developed horticulture skills. “It’s very rewarding to be able to grow your own healthy food. I truly appreciate Food Grown Home for opening my eyes to how it can be managed in an urban area.” “I really enjoyed learning about how to grow sprouts because I've been curious about that for a long time (I love eating sprouts!). I also liked being able to try something and showcase how easy it is to do, so more people can grow their own food in their own homes, even apartments!” 
3. Food Grown Home & Kind Scholars Mentoring and Tutoring Youth

In addition to our cohort of adult participants, we proudly served over 100 MCPS students in four study centers (in-person) and at E. Brooke Lee MS (remote) to provide education on healthy, locally-grown food options and sustainable farming practices during after-school programs.

Since September 2021, a diverse and dedicated staff offers Kind Scholars mentoring and FGH stem/agriculture programming to students attending Olde Towne and Robertson Youth Centers, Gaithersburg City operated Youth Centers serving students after-school. Kind Scholars tutoring takes place at Gaithersburg High School.

Our Kind Scholars program offers creative mentoring activities to boys and girls to support student self-expression and positive mental health outcomes. FGH is set up at Robertson Youth Center and as you can see from the pictures, their hydroponic garden is happily growing !

We are also serving 6th-8th graders at Briggs Chaney Middle School in the Kind Scholars Mentoring program and we hope to inspire students to start an FGH club there in the near future!

Additionally, we are starting virtual tutoring for students referred through TreeHouse in Rockville in addition to tutoring students weekly in-person at Gaithersburg High School.
Boys and Girls are Kind Scholars !
Boys and Girls enjoy Kind Scholars mentoring activities ! Students attend weekly at Briggs Chaney Middle School and Olde Towne and Robertson Youth Centers. All students are welcome to receive help with college essays and academic subjects weekly at Gaithersburg High School after-school.

 Students at Easter Seals in Silver Spring learn weekly about plant science, nutrition and agriculture
Students in pre-K class developed their own Microgreens and are now growing lettuce in a hydroponic countertop system
4. Partnership with Easterseals in Silver Spring, MD 

In November 2021, FGH partnered with the Easterseals Child Development Center in Silver Spring to further enrich their Pre-K STEM program. Alexzander Baetsen, Assistant Creative Director of Food Grown Home, has been collaborating with Center Director Shanelle Patterson to design meaningful food-growing lessons that promote critical thinking skills and help students build strong foundations for STEM education.
As of December 2021, the students have completed radish and broccoli sprout growing projects and are in the process of exploring oyster mushrooms as well as hydroponic growing methods. In the near future, we plan to expand to outdoor growing projects such as potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, and radishes; indoor herbs in containers; growing different crops with our hydroponic systems; and completing experiments on growing conditions for various projects. We are also excited to share that Easterseals will become one of our first community partners to expand to vertical hydroponic gardening so that students will be able to have access to fresh veggies for their meals and snacks in addition to learning more about the hydroponic growing process.

5. Partnerships in Development with Asbury Methodist Village and A Wider Circle

Asbury Methodist Village Senior Living Community aims to bring hydroponic growing systems into the Wilson Health Care Center. This would allow senior residents to have access to fresh vegetables such as lettuce, kale, herbs, and more on a year-round basis. 

A Wider Circle is looking forward to offering their participants throughout the region opportunities to develop a set of career skills in the agriculture field as well as the ability to grow their own fresh organic produce for household consumption to alleviate food insecurity and improve overall health and wellness.

The implementation of these systems would also give residents the opportunity to maintain and harvest their garden as a community, which offers meaningful enrichment to their daily activities.

Additionally, this would provide the added benefit of improved mental health, as gardening and community-building activities have been proven to support mental wellbeing. We are looking forward to seeing this partnership grow and develop in 2022.

6. First Food Grown Home Club Established at Albert Einstein High School

In September 2021, the first FGH-inspired club was established at Albert Einstein High School by club president Miranda Gray, a junior student who is interested in contributing to the environmental aspects of our mission.

Food Grown Home has provided the club and its members with supplies for completing various growing projects, with the most notable being hydroponic gardening equipment.

With this system, club members have been able to grow different varieties of lettuce and distribute their harvested crop to other students in the school for a healthy addition of leafy greens to their lunch.

Food-growing STEM activities can illuminate career pathways into the fields of agriculture, horticulture, public health, environmental science, and more. Further, this STEM engagement provides inspiration for critical discussions on the viability of our food systems, opportunities for increased sustainability in their schools and local communities, strategies for reducing food insecurity, and how one can apply sustainable farming methods to increase access to nutritious food.
7. FGH Curriculum Progress: Growing Instructions & Recipes

Over the course of this year, Food Grown Home created written growing instructions and sample recipe booklets for eleven crops: broccoli sprouts, radish sprouts, fenugreek sprouts, potatoes, oyster mushrooms, ginger, alfalfa sprouts, mung bean sprouts, rosemary, oregano, and thyme. 
Each of the growing guides for these crops were published on our Instagram page so that our food-growing tips could be as accessible as possible to those in our community. In addition to these crops, some members of our cohort also had the opportunity to grow cherry tomatoes, green beans, radishes, and carrots from the Spade-to-Fork growing kits we purchased in honor of our collaborative event with the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Various breeds of spicy peppers such as ghost peppers, sriracha peppers, and cajun belle peppers were also distributed toward the end of summer thanks to a generous donation from the Potomac Garden Center. 
8. FalconVision Student Leadership & SSL Partnership

FLS has partnered with FalconVision Tutoring, a student-led organization started by Poolesville High School students to provide volunteer opportunities to peers attending middle and high schools across MCPS. 

Our nonprofit status allows us to offer certified volunteer Student Service Learning (SSL) hours to the volunteers who participate in SSL activities such as creating cards for seniors and lesson plans for tutoring services. The mission of FalconVision Tutoring aligns with our goal to empower youth to achieve academic success and we are proud to support the continuation of their services. 

Liberty's Promise 2021 Summer Interns: Students had the opportunity to participate in FGH, conduct research, create social media posts and curriculum to support newly immigrated youth. FLS greatly appreciates their contributions to our mentoring programs.

9. Partnership with ACRT, Clifton Park Baptist Church, Project Change-AmeriCorps and University of Maryland, Public Health

Over the summer of 2021, we established a partnership with the Clifton Park Baptist Church to assist in the organization of essential food rescue services for those in need by supplying staff to help harvest the fresh produce grown in their hydroponic garden. FLS AmeriCorps Member Oneyda Hernandez is one of the individuals responsible for helping to maintain these gardens and works alongside the church’s volunteers to package the hydroponic lettuce into food rescue packages in preparation for distribution to community members. 

Prior to this, FLS is fortunate to have created partnerships with ACRT (September 2020) and Project Change-AmeriCorps (September 2018), and University of Maryland (November 2020) whose support has helped us expand our mentoring, tutoring, and FGH initiatives into the wider community.
Special thank you to University of Maryland Student Interns Casey and Linda (Fall 2021) and Lauren (Spring 2021) for your
immeasurable contributions during this unpredictable time.

10. Food Grown Home Etsy Shop Launch

This November, after receiving many questions about how our growers could continue purchasing growing supplies after completing their projects, we decided to launch our very own Etsy shop! We currently sell curated sprouting seed kits that can be customized with your own mix of broccoli, radish, fenugreek, alfalfa, and mung bean sprouting seeds. 

Each kit comes with a BPA-free reusable sprouting seed lid, a mason jar, sprouting seed packages, growing instructions, and a sample recipe booklet. Looking toward the future, we will be selling customizable reusable straws and water bottles.
As we recognize these great achievements from 2021, we are filled with excitement for all that we will accomplish in 2022 with your support. we would like to share what exciting goals are coming up on the horizon. In 2022, we aim to: 
·        Continue offering creative art Kind Scholars mentoring sessions to support student success and positive socio-emotional development 
·        Forge more partnerships with organizations, business owners, and individuals within the community to grow more produce locally with sustainable methods  
·        Organize events such as cooking demonstrations, food-growing tutorials, and sustainability discussions to encourage community-building and social connection among food-growers
·        Create a virtual conference to educate the local community on the benefits of hydroponic farming
·        Continue developing FGH curriculum for youth and adults to provide education on healthy eating, the importance of nutrition, small-scale indoor farming, and sustainable living
·        Inspire as many MCPS students as possible to create their own FGH student-led clubs
·        Offering tutoring sessions both in-person and virtual to support student academic goals
·        Reach as many food-insecure households as possible so that they can benefit from growing their own produce using sustainable farming methods 
In regard to FGH specifically, it is wonderful to see so many organizations and community projects coming together to help address food insecurity in our region.

In this newsletter, we highlighted our top ten greatest accomplishments and milestones of 2021. A huge thank you to our funders who helped us achieve these goals: the City of Gaithersburg Community Services Division, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Montgomery County Council, and the Office of County Executive. We are also extremely grateful to have received grant funding from the Mead Family Foundation, the Takoma Foundation, and the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation to support our academic programming and Food Grown Home initiative. We can’t wait to share more milestones in the future! 

Lori S. Melman, Ph.D., LCSW-C
twitter: @flsmoco

Instagram: @foodgrownhome
@familylearningsolutions (inc.)
@foodgrownhome and @flsmoco
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