YCAP's community garden used as teaching tool for youth

WTVC Y-CAP garden

Growing relationships while growing food. That's what the YMCA's Community Action Program, or Y-CAP, does with its community garden in downtown Chattanooga.

12 year old's Dillon Ford and Demetrice Brandon are spend part of their summer tending to the garden.

"It actually takes a lot of patience. You can't just do it right then you have to wait for the plants to grow," Dillon said.

They spend four days a week with mentors like Tommy Hobbs. Tommy uses it as a teaching tool.

"You see a kid that doesn't know anything about what they're doing and they learn from it and they see other people working toward it, so it gives them an appreciation for work and knowing stuff isn't automatically given to you, that you have to work for it," Hobbs said.

The kids spend up to eight hours a week out in the garden, learning about the different plants, and what it takes to make them grow.

"It teaches them food comes out of the ground and not from Food City."

It's also teaching them how to get along with their peers.

The boys say it helps them cope with stress.

YCAP is for middle school boys, typically between 10 to 15 years old.

Tommy says the goal is to reach them at this critical age to keep them from getting involved in a gang.

"Basically life is about choices. The choices you make can determine where you are going in life."

"We can work on problems and complete our social goals so we can get better in life and have a better life," Dillon said.

"We talk it out with each other," Demetrice added.

Perhaps the best part, once the produce is picked, they get to take it home to enjoy with their families.

"Seeing a kid appreciate that and like to get into the garden and like to pick cucumbers and stuff just makes me realize that it's another generation that's learning something that they need to know," Hobbs said.

Tommy says volunteers are always welcome, especially people who want to read to children.

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