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City Blossoms: Nonprofit uses gardening to educate and empower

City Blossoms: Nonprofit uses gardening to educate and empower. (ABC7)

No need to keep preschoolers at CentroNia in Columbia Heights inside, there's plenty to learn in the on-site garden.

When asked what her favorite part of the garden was 5-year-old Tatiana Benitez confidently stated, "Carrots."

Kayly Villalta, 4, agreed while embracing a few other garden delights. "Carrots, tomatoes, and apples," she replied.

Those foods might not be in the garden were it not for the help of a nonprofit organization called City Blossoms.

"The idea with City Blossoms gardens that makes them unique is that they are a space that kids maintain and manage and it's a place where they can become stewards and leaders in their own neighborhoods," says Rebecca Lemos-Otero, Executive Director.

City Blossoms develops the gardens in urban settings by offering tools and training to educators and community leaders.

Lauren Newman, 20, a former student gardener, is now an intern.

"The exerience of learning about sustainability and really developing my passion for conservation and the environment, that really started with City Blossoms," Newman explained.

This approach to outdoor learning weaves together art, science, cooking and healthy living. Whether it's making chickpea salsa or achieving simpler goals, the ultimate desire is use gardening to educate and empower.

"Instead of this being an activity that's done to and for the kids it's an activity that's done for themselves as well as for their larger community," Lemos-Otero says.

City Blossoms has also created a cookbook called Garden Gastronomy that is full of healthy recipes for kids.

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