The Paradise Community Peace Garden

In 2014, SIPS funded Michelle Stearn and Cat Skolnicki to begin a project during the summer of 2014. Michelle and Cat collaborated with the Paradise Community in the Parkside-Kenilworth neighborhood of N.E. DC. The Paradise Community Peace Garden is a project that aims to empower its community’s residents through education and responsibility.

In its initial year, the Paradise Peace Garden developed an intensive curriculum based on a youth empowerment and conflict mediation, which was taught to the community youth as a component of an annual summer camp. Michelle and Cat began this initiative with the mission of empowering the youth to learn about the cycles of life, reflect on their life experiences, learn about and employ tactics of non-retaliation, and create a culture of sharing and peace based on healthy food and food autonomy. 

Michelle and Cat hoped that through youth and family connections and knowledge transfer, the garden could become a tool for the community to become self-empowered and tackle the challenges of lack of access to food by growing their own crops. The program engaged with over 40 children and the families over a 6-week period during which they grew, harvested and cooked dozens of types of crops, visited 5 other community  gardens throughout the district, and certified the youth as “garden masters” according to criteria established based on our environmental education curriculum. Michelle has continued to tutor the youth at the community center at Paradise throughout the year, and plans to transfer the leadership of the garden to the community this summer by connecting garden program to a Biodiesel laboratory educational and work program.

To check out more photos from last summer and follow our progress for the upcoming garden season, please check out their blog: (new window)