Hope is blooming in Bearden

Brooke ConnerOur Town Kids, West Knox

Girl Scouts from troop 20114 worked with retired engineers on designing and assembling a water harvesting system for the Bloom Center, an outreach site that gives opportunities and horticultural therapy for youth with disabilities and developmental challenges. With this new technology, one inch of rain will generate 6,000 gallons of water to be used to support the greenhouse.


The Bloom Center is a 9,000-square-foot greenhouse that sits right outside Central Baptist Church of Bearden. Recently bought by the church, it now serves as a solar-powered ministry that provides special-needs students and adults with work. Plants that are grown are donated to Random Acts of Flowers, a Knoxville nonprofit that delivers recycled flowers to hospitals and nursing homes.

The Girl Scouts decided to partner with the Bloom Center when it was first being developed, earning their Silver Award. Girl Scouts Orly, Amelia, Evy, Adisyn, Addison, Millie, Bella, Joey, and Harper, along with troop volunteers Beth and Leah, cataloged plants, determined best practices, painted the exterior of the building and more. As an extension of their Silver Award, the troop applied and were accepted for the Joyce Maienschein Leadership Grant for $500 to build the water harvesting system.

Walter Cromer, a retired engineer, assisted on the design and assembly of the plumbing. The rain collected on the roof will go down the gutter into the barrels, which will then water all the plants.

“The work this troop has done,” said Walter, “gives us a platform to demonstrate good stewardship of natural resources like water and how everyone in a community is valuable and can come together to make something worthwhile.”

Orly, now a seventh grader, says her favorite thing about Girl Scouts is giving back. She attends Central Baptist Church and this brought the greenhouse needs to her attention.

“I’m passionate about this project because we’re helping create something that helps people with disabilities, giving them more experience in work and life,” she said. “Making other people happy makes me happy.”

The Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians has nearly 15,000 girl and adult members in 46 counties from southwest Virginia, through eastern Tennessee, and northern Georgia. Girl Scouts is open to all girls from kindergarten through the senior year in high school. Girls are welcome to join throughout the year. Info: girlscoutcsa.org or 800-474-1912.

Brooke Conner is social media and content coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.

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