Gardens in Impoverished Areas

It’s crazy to think of getting all the essentials for living like groceries and toiletries from a local gas station, but when the local Kroger pulls out of the area, the gas station is all that’s left.


This is the situation for many people in parts of Terre Haute. The freshest fruits and veggies come from Circle K. Gas station produce is the reason Ryves Up! is making such a difference. By teaching children how to garden, they can bring those skills back to their families and eat healthier.

Community gardens are a great way to get people involved and making healthier food choices. They are extremely beneficial in big cities where large green patches to freely cultivate a personal garden do not exist. A study completed in New York City in 2008 found that many residents lack a sufficient amount of fresh food stores in their neighborhood area. Many people in NYC can’t afford enough food for each meal in the day, so they spend what they do have on unhealthy options because it’s the cheapest

Gardens like the one Ryves Up!, if placed near other low-income and at-risk areas across the country, can grow fresh food for those who are in need and can’t get out to garden. There are programs all over like “Plant a Row for the Hungry” that grow fresh produce and donate it to food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. 


Please consider donating to Ryves Up! to help them further their reach to those in need in the Terre Haute area!

Poverty In Terre Haute

The Terre Haute community now more than ever is facing an increasing rate of poverty. According to an Indiana public media article the unemployment rate has increased 11 percent with the relocation of multiple large business. 1 in 3 Terre Haute children are living in poverty since 2009. Vigo county schools have reduced lunch programs and emergency dental care to help low income students. However, state funding has been continuously cut throughout the years, which makes it harder for schools to help as much. The following map shows the poverty levels in Terre Haute:

According to this map there are some areas have 50% of their citizens living below poverty levels. The same article compared the poverty level in Terre Haute to the state of Indiana and it shows that the poverty level percentage is double the state of Indiana. The Ryves Up! program is trying to help students by teaching them how to grow produce instead of just donating food, which helps them learn a new trade that will help them in the future.

Recipe: Ham and Bean Soup

Ok, so you you have some beans, and some leftover ham. What shall you ever do with these ingredients? Well, as my dad always did with leftover ham, you make some ham and bean soup. A great side for his ham and bean soup was his cornbread (made proudly from a box of Jiffy cornbread mix), which was great when I dipped it in the broth.




  • 1lb of beans
  • ½ lb of ham (leftover ham works just fine), cubed
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley, minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Jiffy Cornbread mix


Follow directions for cornbread on Jiffy mix box. If using dried beans, add beans to a pot of boiling water and with a few pinches of salt and remove pot from heat. Let beans soak for an hour and then drain. (Just use fresh beans as you would these soaked beans in the recipe) Add beans to large pot with 1-2 cups of water along with onion, salt, and pepper. Bring pot to boil for 20 minutes and then reduce to simmer. Add carrots, ham, and parsley to pot. Simmer for 60-90 more minutes. Serve soup hot with cornbread.

Building for Success

Ryves Up! uses a variety of activities to help build crucial skills for the participating elementary students.  Students learn about basic science concepts related to plants, such as photosynthesis and how to water and grow plants.  And best of all, the kids have a great time with these activities!  As second-grader Jackson Schommer exclaimed, “I like learning how to grow plants.  We get to water them and take some home.”

Experiments are also run to reinforce concepts that they learn.  Kids partake in activities such as predicting if celery or a white radish will absorb more water, or writing down in journals what they think will happen to several seedlings that are grown either in the light or in the dark.  These experiments make the students think about what they have learned and apply concepts to real life applications.  This increases critical thinking and hypothesis forming skills of the students.

An article from The Hanen Centre discusses why critical thinking is so important.  Critical thinking and language influence each other as children learn.  Critical thinking makes kids use words such as because, if, then, and different verb tenses to expand their language.  This expanded language also improves the ability to critically think and form well-structured statements.  Increased critical thinking abilities also helps improve literacy by allowing kids to problem solve, read between the lines, and connect multiple concepts and ideas.  The kids even bring seedlings back home to grow to continue their learning outside of school and the Ryves Up! program.

Afterschool Gardening at Franklin Elementary