Soulful Seeds helping to rebuild lives through gardening

A local non-profit is looking to give people a hand up by first getting their hands dirty.
Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 10:47 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Most people drive by a two-acre plot of land on the corner of Glendale and Galletti and just see a dry, weed filled space.

It’s no surprise, especially considering the land attached to the new “Our Place” shelter has been left alone for more than 100 years. But where some see a barren wasteland, Earstin Whitten sees an abundance of potential.

“I mean we’re taking virtually a desert area that has never been farmed and turning it into something that’s very very fruitful for the people,” he said.

The co-founder of Soulful Seeds has a vision- to turn the land into a community garden to give people a hand up.

 “If we can help people become more self-reliant on their own skills, rather than expecting things to be given constantly, it’s going to just make, I think, make their life better.”

When built, the residents of the “Our Place” campus will learn about gardening, work the soil, and eat the food they grow. It’s part of a rehabilitation process supported by Washoe County.

“There’s no better way to invest in yourself, and to grow the food that you’ll be eating, and learn the importance of nutrition, and how to make something out of nothing,” Kate Thomas, Assistant County Manager said.

That’s a lesson Whitten himself learned at a young age, growing up as the son of a sharecropper.

“Everybody was poor, but they survived,” He said. “They survived because they work with the soil, and I believe that can occur here as well.”

The overall vision for the garden is a mix of traditional growing, raised beds, and hoop houses so people can grow food year-round. Any extra food will be given to various food banks. Soulful Seeds also purchased Instapots and gave them to people in need, so they can cook healthy meals with fresh food.

“It’s so rewarding just knowing that we’re building a healthier community together and that people are invested in doing that for themselves,” Thomas said.

The project hopes to break ground in July, but it is a massive undertaking. It’s expected to cost about $500,000, but Soulful Seeds has already received a lot of community support. Lumos, Stonegate Development, TMWA and more have all donated services to help make the project come to life. The non-profit is still looking for a company that could grade the land and get it ready for growing.

But once the plants are in the ground, it will be a return to basics that will hopefully set people on the right path toward success.

“This isn’t going to be the end all to the life situations people face, but at least it will be something to show them possibilities on what can happen when a community comes together,” Whitten said.

Soulful Seeds is a KOLO Cares Pillar Partner. If you can help, you can learn more about Soulful Seeds’ mission here.

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