WESTFORD — A new business has bloomed in Westford — and it’s run entirely by students.
On a parcel of land near the Westford Community Garden, young women between 12 and 16 years old grow flowers and create bouquets under a newly founded organization — Flowers to Empower.
“From the beginning, we’ve had a vision of this land being used as a community space,” Elizabeth Almeida, one of the founders of Flowers to Empower, told WestfordCAT. “It’s about food, outdoors and community, so we’re trying to find a way to draw people around that.”
The program is “completely free” for young girls to attend, and received “tremendous support,” from the community, including donations from the Westford Rotary and Westford Remembers, as well as land leased by the Agricultural Commission. Almeida hopes the program will be self-sustaining for years to come.
“Now that we have a fence up and you know, some of those big expenses we won’t have next year, I’d love for it to be self-sustaining going forward,” she said. “Folks love the idea of what we’re doing.”
The goal, Almeida says, is to teach young women about entrepreneurship and leadership.
“I was looking around at the opportunities for middle school, high school age young women in the community and saw the need for better entrepreneurship and leadership opportunities,” she said.
She continued, “what we’re doing here is learning to run a business and then the proceeds from the business are used to fund outdoor adventures.”
The group has raised over $6,000 in sales, which have been used to fund camping trips, bike rides and small day trips. Almeida believes these experiences provide young women the experience and skills they need to succeed.
“We hope to provide a variety of experiences and then they can all get what they need,” she said. “They are all getting something different out of it.”
Students share their perspectives
A number of students approached WestfordCAT to share their perspectives on the organization’s inaugural season.
Kiera Walsh, a sixth grade student at Blanchard Middle School, noted that she loves growing and maintaining the garden alongside other students.
“I first heard about this from the principal from my elementary school, so I cam here for the first time and I was like ‘I loved it,'” Walsh told WestfordCAT.
She continued, “It’s really fun to learn about the flowers. By the end of this season, I basically know more than I’ve ever known about flowers.”
Other students, such as Akshaya Rajendaran, a sixth grade student at Blanchard Middle School, are more fond of learning how to run her own business.
“I’ve learned a lot about how to do business and made a lot of friends,” Rajendaran told WestfordCAT.
Giana Rosario, an eighth grade student at Blanchard Middle School, shared Rajendaran’s sentiment.
“I love the business part of it, learning how to sell and cooperate with everyone else,” Giana Rosario told WestfordCAT.
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