The Dirt Girls program has been planting empowerment since 2016. As we continue to engage youth in outdoor science learning and exposing them to STEM careers, we aim to develop a new and unique program. "Dirt Girl Greenhouse" is an aspiring enterprise where diverse and gender expansive youth explore their power through plant propagation. This hyperlocal, teaching-forward, micro-nursery will make native plants available to the community throughout the year to support sustainable gardening.
Although botany was one of the first "sciences" women were allowed to participate in, formal training was not widely available, so Women's Garden Clubs became niche spaces for civic engagement and social activism. Although women are more represented in the field of horticulture today, the faces of leaders are still mostly white. More remote or rural communities are especially removed from the influences of the horticultural movement that could introduce and expand career choices.
Dirt Girls Greenhouse will provide informal horticulture engagement during out of school time through plant propagation and sale. Using an enterprise-style (selling what we grow), Dirt Girls Greenhouse will provide rich learning experiences for diverse girls and gender expansive youth to engage with plants, each other, and the world while learning a green industry. Recruiting through inclusive grassroots networks ensures our program impacts participants who might not consider a career in STEM.
The rise of interest in gardening during the pandemic led to an emergence of self-taught horticultural influencers. However, in remote or rural locations, the online presence keeps hands-on experience at a distance. Creating a 'real life' niche community related to green industry exposes diverse and gender expansive youth to the many pathways to STEM careers, thus affirming their identity as future horticulturalists. An added benefit is sustainable, year-round access to native plants.
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