Youth plant seeds of change in Toronto with social enterprise Hope Blooms

Hope Blooms, the social enterprise operated by 68 Halifax youth ages 12 to 18, has become an example for the rest of the country.

Rather than trying to control the licensing of its products across Canada, however, the famed organization aims to spread its message of youth as change agents by encouraging groups in various communities to develop their own brand of social enterprise.

The first step toward spreading the word about how youth-operated enterprises could be used as a positive influence may have started in north-end Halifax but last week the group, working with the Loblaw Cos. Ltd., brought its message to Toronto.

Jessie Jollymore, executive director of Hope Blooms, along with a representative group of 17 youth ages 12 to 20 travelled to Toronto where they launched the sale of Hope Blooms Fresh Herb Dressings and Possibili-Teas specialty teas at the Loblaw store located in the famed Maple Leaf Gardens — former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.

The usual output for Hope Blooms salad dressings is about 200 bottles a week, says


Jollymore but somehow the group managed to produce 4,000 bottles to bring to the Toronto launch.

Through the sales of the Hope Blooms product, the

organization will support

local youth at Toronto-area Scadding Court Community Centre, providing funding

and business experience to centre participants.

Back home, Hope Blooms operates an award-winning community garden, greenhouse and community kitchen.

The youth grow about 1,820 kilograms of fresh produce each year, which is used in their herb dressings and specialty teas, as well as feeding members of the local community.

Jollymore said Hope Blooms was chosen by the United Nations to spread the message about a sustainable environment by promoting the goal of a healthier community through their social enterprise, urban organic food gardens, nutrition and experiential education programs.

The profit from the sale of Hope Blooms dressings and teas in Toronto is going to the 300-strong Scadding Court group in the hope it will spark the creation of a social enterprise similar to Hope Blooms, she said.

Now, 12 Atlantic Superstores in Nova Scotia and the Loblaws store in Maple Leaf Gardens carry the dressings. To date, more than 50,000 bottles of dressing have been sold, with 100 per cent of sales going back to Hope Blooms to fund a scholarship program that supports the organization’s youth members as they graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education.

Now that it has expanded to include Toronto, Jollymore said Hope Blooms hopes to carry its social enterprise message across the country.