Emily Chan, a fourth-year Applied Human Nutrition student at Mount Saint Vincent University, has been completing the internship for her undergraduate program at Hope Blooms this summer.

Hope Blooms is an organization (well known for its fresh herb dressings) dedicated to empowering youth in Halifax’s North End and building community through projects focused on growing herbs and vegetables and developing products for sale. As their website states, “Through their own actions and hard work, youth learn how to grow food, produce and successfully market value-added products, grow a small social enterprise from the ground up, and give back to their community.”

From their site on Cornwallis Street, as well as their community garden on Brunswick Street, Hope Blooms has been able to provide youth with opportunities to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills. One major such opportunity came in 2013, when the Hope Blooms youth took their fresh herb dressings to the popular Dragon’s Den TV show on CBC (you can watch their pitch here).

Emily Chan

Emily first got to know Hope Blooms back in 2016, when her “Ecological Perspectives of Food” class at the Mount toured their Cornwallis Street location.

One thing that really stood out for Emily that day was the idea that her education could be applicable in so many ways. “I didn’t think that a dietitian could work in this type of field,” Emily said as she reflected on learning that Jessie Jollymore, the founder of Hope Blooms and a Mount alumna, was a dietitian. “It was something that blew my mind, because it looked like so much fun to do – you’re making a different type of impact.” (You can read Jessie’s story in the “Plant a seed, Harvest a dream” story here.)

Supporting a new community food delivery project

Since May, Emily has been involved with many different projects at Hope Blooms, organizing youth activities within the garden, preparing and packaging the Hope Blooms dressings, and assisting Jessie with the planning for new projects. One of the more recent projects Emily has contributed to is a food-security initiative, Bicycle Built for Food, that is being developed and launched within the next few weeks.

Emily Chan

Using an electric-assisted bike, the youth of Hope Blooms will deliver locally grown greens to community members and businesses within the local North End area. The idea is to develop an intergenerational relationship between the youth, community members, and seniors who live in the North End of Halifax.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds raised through our community-supported agriculture delivery service will go towards starting [an initiative for] free homemade soups and breads to seniors in the inner city who are food insecure,” Jessie explained.

Emily emphasized how Hope Blooms gave her the chance to brush up on her gardening skills, and gives youth a chance to practice these crucial skills. “Here it’s a lot about learning, and allowing [the kids] to teach me, as well as me teach them.”

Jessie was appreciative of having a Mount student as her intern. As a Mount alumnus herself, Jollymore knows the impact and importance of the Applied Human Nutrition internships.

“I have been taking student interns for more than 10 years now,” Jessie said. “Emily has been one of the [top] interns I have had so far.”

Gaining a new perspective

When talking about the impact this internship has had on her, Emily described her time as eye-opening and transformative, noting how warmly she was welcomed into the Hope Blooms community.

“[As an outsider], I feel like you see the surface, and you see the broader perspectives, but you don’t get to see the individual’s perspective; how they’re being affected by either myself or other community members,” she said. Working as part of the Hope Blooms team afforded her a new and important perspective.

Emily Chan

“Working in such a tight-knit community, you really get to see first-hand the effects these programs have on the youth, the community, and everyone in it,” said Emily. “At Hope Blooms, I get to interact with youth at the garden. I get to meet their parents. I get to see them grow.”