Growing up: Hope Blooms project awards first scholarship from fund
Mamadou Wade joined in 2010 and led his peers during a 2013 business pitch on CBC's Dragons Den
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When Mamadou Wade joined the youth-operated community garden project Hope Blooms in 2010, he had no idea he’d be growing more than produce.
The project began as a seed of an idea and has blossomed into a successful enterprise that has youth growing more than 2,000 pounds of fresh produce each year in Halifax’s north end.
That produce is used to produce fresh herb dressings that sell for $8 per bottle. All proceeds go into a scholarship fund for Hope Blooms youth.
Wade is just completing Grade 12, making him the first “graduate” from the program and the first Hope Blooms scholarship fund recipient. He’ll receive $8,000 from the fund.
The scholarship was officially announced during a celebration event on Thursday at the Young Street Superstore.
Wade was 12 when he joined Hope Blooms in 2010. In 2013, he led his peers during the group’s successful business pitch to Canadian millionaires on CBC’s Dragons Den.
He said the leadership and entrepreneurial skills he developed through his involvement with the initiative led to his receipt of a $70,000 national leadership scholarship in addition to the Hope Blooms scholarship.
“Initially I wasn’t much of a fan of gardening, I was more of a fan of the business side of things,” Wade said in an interview following Thursday’s celebration event.
“As time went on, I realized that food is a universal language and everyone can connect with food. Our salad dressing is basically a bottle of inspiration, and it holds so much in the bottle other than just salad dressing. It can change lives.”
Wade said he has plans to create a summer tutoring program for youth in his north end neighbourhood to ensure they have an academic edge when they return to school in the fall.
In September, Wade will pursue a commerce degree at either Dalhousie University or the University of Toronto.
“Our motto is ‘plant a seed and harvest a dream’ and so for me, it’s a dream becoming a reality,” Hope Blooms executive director and founder Jessie Jollymore said.
“It can’t get any better. The biggest dream I had was seeing the youth go on to post secondary, and seeing the confidence being built, and for them to feel so empowered that they can do whatever they set their minds to.”
The Hope Blooms scholarship program is open to Canadian students at least 16 years old living in Halifax’s north end. They must be active members of the program for a minimum of four years and pursuing full time post secondary studies.
Hope Blooms adds two new dressings, expands to four new Superstore locations
The youth involved with the Hope Blooms project in Halifax’s north end keep growing their product line and their distribution.
During a celebration event on Thursday, the director of corporate affairs for Loblaw Canada announced that Hope Blooms dressings will now be sold at eight Halifax area Atlantic Superstore locations.
Mark Boudreau said since late last year, the dressings have been available at four local Superstore locations: Joseph Howe Drive, Barrington Street, Portland Street and Bedford.
Based on what Loblaw described as “extraordinary sales to date,” the dressings will now also be available at the Young Street, Quinpool Road, Sackville and Braemar Drive locations.
“When we launched this partnership last November we were hoping to raise enough money to raise a university scholarship for a local kid. Well we didn’t do that,” Boudreau said.
“Based on our sales to date our stores have actually sold enough dressings to fund six additional scholarships. That’s six scholarships of up to $8,000 each through Hope Blooms.”
Thursday’s event also served as the launch pad for the unveiling of two new fresh herb dressings.
Lemon smoked caesar and chipotle spiced oregano dressings will join maple sage balsamic and fresh basil pesto, the two original Hope Blooms dressings.