Picture 10 or 12 children unexpectedly coming to garden at Brilliant Detroit’s Cody Rouge site one Wednesday afternoon in the summer. They were brought out by a middle-school student who had hung out with us the week before and they were excited to get their hands in the dirt. Spotlight shifts to Ms. Rachel, the volunteer garden manager at Cody Rouge. With a patient smile full of deep and genuine kindness, Ms. Rachel guided the children through choosing their own seeds – her own seeds, really, which were donated without hesitation – and planting transplants. Everything came together so simply, as they worked diligently on planting, composting, watering, harvesting and more. Days like this led to an energy in the Cody Rouge garden that nothing save the start of school could diminish, and it was all orchestrated by Ms. Rachel.
Ms. Rachel co-created the Cody Rouge garden in April, having attended Brilliant Detroit programming for several previous months and become a well-known and well-regarded persona. Despite the fact that she runs her own community garden nearby called Rachel’s Kitchen, she seemingly found no trouble stepping up and creating a garden space for her Brilliant Detroit community. Not only did she spearhead the garden build, she connected Brilliant Detroit to the Joy-Southfield Farmers Market and gave up half of her table originally dedicated to Rachel’s Kitchen produce so that Brilliant Detroit would have a space to sell our own produce. When seeds were needed, she gave seeds. When clothes were needed at the Brilliant Detroit house, she gave clothes. When children showed up to garden, she made sure they had snacks – snacks that she provided. She even donated a week’s income at the Farmers Market to Brilliant Detroit’s fundraiser. She often says how important it is to give back to her community. Although she tends to operate as the little red hen – growing food for her community without much help only to have everyone excitedly indulging in the results – it does not seem to bother her all that much. She carries on with powerful determination because she knows that what she is doing is right.
Unyielding generosity is the picture of Ms. Rachel, and that’s what makes her our hero!
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