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Project Roots nurtures south Phoenix youth with gardening classes

It is a muggy Friday morning at Garden of Tomorrow, a community gardening space in south Phoenix. Though it faces a busy thoroughfare, the tranquility of a space teeming with fruiting citrus trees, vibrant sunflowers and fragrant herbs seems to hush the rumble of passing cars.

Young children join those watering the land and sprinkling cayenne pepper to keep pests away. A boy no older than 4 helps turn the soil with a shovel almost as big as he is, using his foot to push it deep into the earth and pull out a heap.

When a downpour of cooling rain starts, those weeding the garden along Broadway Road start a community howl in celebration of needed water.

The garden, along with Spaces of Opportunity, is one of the spaces where Project Roots hosts its new youth classes, one of which Brandon Bates teaches. He said it is important to get his students thinking about the benefits of farming and working the land while working in tandem with the community.

“No one can stop us from planting trees,” he said. “But they can miseducate us to not grow trees.”