What to do with an old tennis court that’s not being used? Transform it into garden space, of course! The old tennis court at Boys Home, affectionately nicknamed the “ghetto garden,” is now home to raised beds and a small greenhouse made from found materials. The cracked blacktop, not ideal for tennis, is serving a new purpose – the dark color attracts heat in the cooler months, keeping the raised beds and greenhouse a little bit warmer. Thanks to the raised beds and the greenhouse, farm manager Bonnie Wheatley has already harvested heaps of lettuce to add to the dining hall salads.

One day, while helping in the ghetto garden, Boys Home resident Diego realized that he wanted to plant his own garden too. That evening, he asked his houseparent for help, and they agreed to work together to build a raised bed in front of their cottage. The next day, hearing of his gardening plans, Mrs. Wheatley offered him space in the extra raised beds in the ghetto garden. So Diego got to work! With Mrs. Wheatley and houseparent Linda Angle’s help, Diego went to the garden center, picked out his plants, and planted them snugly in their new home.

Diego is proud to show off his garden. As we walked through, he identified all the different plants, pointing out the little peppers forming on the pepper plants and the trellis set up for the cucumbers to climb. Alongside the cucumbers and peppers he has peas, beans, zucchini, and watermelon (and a few weeds…) He even got a bonus – he thought they had only bought one cherry tomato start, and it turned out to be two! Of all the fruits and vegetables he’s growing, the one Diego is looking forward to the most is the watermelon.

Diego makes sure to check on his plants regularly, watering them with water from the rain barrels. And unlike some of his peers, he’s happy when it rains, because he knows his plants will be happy. (And he gets a break from watering!)