The Bloom Center is a 9,000 square foot greenhouse that sits right outside Central Baptist Church of Bearden. Recently bought by the church from the previous owner, it now serves as an outreach site that gives opportunities and horticultural therapy for youth with disabilities and developmental challenges, while using the products grown to serve those in assisted living and hospitals.
Girl Scouts from troop 20114 decided to partner with the Bloom Center when it was first being developed, earning their Silver Award. Girl Scouts Orly, Amelia, Evy, Adisyn, Addison, Millie, Bella, Joey, and Harper, along with troop volunteers Beth and Leah cataloged plants, determined best practices, painted the exterior of the building, and more. As an extension of their Silver Award, they recently earned the funding and built a water harvesting system in May 2020.
The troop applied and were accepted for the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant for $500. Working with Walter Cromer, a retired engineer, on the design they assembled the plumbing to the barrels and solar panels. The rain collected on the roof will go down the gutter into the barrels, which will then water all the plants. With this new technology, one inch of rain will generate 6,000 gallons of water to be used to support the greenhouse!
“The work this troop has done,” said Walter, “gives [the Bloom Center] a platform to demonstrate good stewardship of natural resources like water and how everyone in a community is valuable and can come together to make something worthwhile.”
Because of the Bloom Center, special need students and adults are able to work in the solar powered garden. Plants that are grown are donated to Random Acts of Flowers, a Knoxville nonprofit that delivers recycled flowers to hospitals and nursing homes.
Orly, now a seventh grader, says her favorite thing about Girl Scouts is giving back. She attends Central Baptist Church and this brought the greenhouse needs to her attention.
“I’m passionate about this project because we’re helping create something that helps people with disabilities, giving them more experience in work and life,” she said. “Making other people happy makes me happy.”
From left to right, top to bottom: Evy, Harper, Bella, Millie, Joey, Orly