Social Pruning

Using my gardening skills to empower youth at risk

My personal Social Pruning project - I discovered the benefits of hand pruning 20 years ago, but I didn't realize at the time the impact hand pruning would have on my life, and on those in it. Today, I consciously bring pruning into people’s lives, namely youth, as a volunteer guide and mentor to youth at risk.

The guys in the picture are my flagship project. I have been working with them for 3 years, using my gardening skills to help them grow and bloom (excuse the pun, but in this case, it can’t be helped). The project runs for 3 years, and is aimed at youth between the ages of 15-18. But what makes all this relevant here, besides the fact that it’s an important part of who I am, is the fact that I use gardening and hand pruning as the central theme and as a tool when leading the group. My pruning knowledge leads us as a group throughout the project, and the youth develop social as well as gardening skills, which will serve them throughout their lives - and they just love it! 

The aim of the project is to empower these youth, each in his or her own way. I do this by allowing them to take responsibility over their behavior and the process. Think about it for a moment, to be handling sharp, dangerous tools, not from a place of power, or to threaten or hurt anyone, but rather, in order to protect and nurture. To take responsibility and make a garden grow, then to see the results that I (the youth) had created. I don’t know a better way to achieve such results and to feel such fulfillment than to prune your garden. At the youth village, we prune the garden while the gardeners do the more heavy-duty work. The sense of pride each and every group member feels when they look at the fruits of their labor – a blossoming garden – is clear and transparent on their faces.

Some pictures from our gardening activities

Building trust using garden plants

A game of trust and plant recognition 

Guerrilla gardening 

 The impact of social pruning 

These kids are my private garden. I'm fertilizing, watering, pruning and taking care of them, and the beauty of it is that they do the same for me. When I say ‘social pruning’ it’s not just lateral - we prune success. Together. And that's what it’s all about. The fruits of our activities cannot be expressed in words, but I can tell you that they’re the sweetest, tastiest fruits you’ll eat.   

I feel privileged to have this project in my life, and to be part of these children’s lives.
If you ever have a chance to volunteer, don't let it pass! It makes for the most beautiful garden. I promise.


More activities

Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking. 

Gardening gift ideas
to use indoors or out