MR. BROWN'S STORY

Community Members Making an Impact

Mr. Brown has been a resident of Armour Oaks Senior Living Community for seven years. During this time, he’s nurtured not only his own garden areas, but countless relationships with many of the youth at our Cornerstones of Care – Gillis Campus. Together, we’re working with Mr. Brown to continue a harmonious partnership with the folks at Armour Oaks and the youth on campus.

“It all started with exchanging information about gardening. I’d talk to Farmer Theo about organic growing and it just kind of went from there,” says Mr. Brown, who has been a proud grower of fresh produce for the community since the 80s. But for the past four years, he’s been an important player in the development of our healthy living & food systems program, too. Mr. Brown not only brings decades organic gardening experience, but enjoys helping the youth build their entrepreneurial skills — like estimating the cost and timeline of a project.

A Legitimate Lifetime Hustle

In recent weeks, youth volunteers from the program have been working with Mr. Brown on a special project. They’ve been planning and building a raised garden bed that will be accessible for individuals who use a wheelchair to get around the Armour Oaks complex. “This could be a legitimate lifetime hustle for some of [the youth],” says Mr. Brown. “They have to come and observe what the client wants, and estimate the general cost of materials and the time it will take and then calculate their hourly rate. For example, this unit we’re working on right here can easily be turned into a math problem. They have to figure out the perimeter and/or circumference of the space before they can calculate how many bricks are needed.”

Respect with Love

Some of our youth haven’t always had adults in their life that they could trust and depend on for advice, guidance and support, but Mr. Brown is teaching them that there are adults who care and are worth trusting. “They have to be open to me, and I have to be open to them. I’ve learned that you can’t go to them with correction all of the time — you have to go to them with love and showing them that they are important. I tell people all of the time, there is a difference between forced respect versus respect with love. I want respect with love, and I believe that if you treat others like they are human and important, then they will then respect you with love,” explains Mr. Brown. Now, every morning as the youth make their way to school or the bus, they stop to say hello, smile and wave at Mr. Brown.

Growing for the Future

Mr. Brown also enjoys sharing his food preparation knowledge and the benefits of different vegetables and herbs. “I think it’s very important for young people to understand where their food comes from.” He continues, “The interaction between Farmer Theo, myself and the children has been memorable. I enjoy sharing knowledge and sharing the fun of planting and seeing it materialize over time.”

Mr. Brown has seen a lot of growth over the past years. In 2012, the Gillis Farm was added as one part of the healthy living & food systems program. Five years later, we added raised beds, a composting area, an outdoor wash area and even a windmill that provides enough wind energy to run the farm.