A Community Garden Grows With Young Boy’s Help

In Bismarck, North Dakota, one community garden started after a 10-year-old boy and his mom went shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables. Bryce Dahle and his mother Julie are part of the local Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op, where members pool their money to purchase produce for low prices. After getting their basket, Bryce expressed concern at the fact that the program cost anything — but he wasn’t thinking of himself. Instead, he felt if the produce were free, then more people could share in the program’s benefits. This thinking planted the seeds of an idea.

Inspired by Helping Others

Around this time, a local company called earthkind was promoting a kindness initiative. Julie Dahle was involved with the local women’s leadership group, which gave $50 to each member with an eye toward doing a random act of kindness. Julie used hers to help Bryce fill baskets with fresh fruits and vegetables to give away at a local rummage sale — but Bryce wanted to do more.

After learning that a local family had fallen on hard times, Julie started ordering an extra basket every week so Bryce could deliver it to them. He brought baskets filled with produce such as fresh strawberries and tomatoes, and the family’s three children and their squeals of excitement met him at the door. Their joy inspired Bryce.

“There’s got to be more than just a few people that need helping,” Bryce told The Bismarck Tribune. “Everyone needs vegetables, but not everyone is getting what they need … because they can’t afford vegetables.”

Born With Kindness?

Bryce’s willingness to perform these acts of kindness opens up a high-level debate: When a child is motivated to do such selfless acts, is it a result of nature or nurture? Well, according to a 2006 study, it’s both. Two researchers put groups of young children in situations where they had to help the researchers. For one group, the researchers spent some time playing what they called “reciprocal” games, such as bouncing a ball back and forth. Meanwhile, the other group played on their own. The researchers found that children who did the reciprocal play were three times more likely to help pick up a dropped ball than the children who played by themselves. In other words, children were especially inclined to help when they were in an environment that encouraged relationships.

That prominence of relationship and community certainly made a difference in Bryce’s case. His mom says that he has always had a giving heart, so she wanted to encourage his dream. Bryce went back to earthkind, and they helped him start a community garden. He recruited his fourth-grade classmates, and under the guidance of earthkind founder Kari Block, they broke ground outside a local church in May. They will be spending the summer learning about organic farming while tending to the garden.

The harvest is expected to feed hundreds of people through donations to local shelters and food banks. Bryce and his friends will deliver baskets to families in need through his new organization: Helping Handfuls. The baskets will be filled with vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, all grown in a community garden planted with seeds of kindness.

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