Matt Chapman’s Alternative Spring Break with Greening Forward

Greening Forward
3 min readApr 9, 2024


This article is a post that comes from Greening Forward’s legacy blog. It was originally written on March 13, 2012.

Editor’s Note: This reflective blog post is a part of series of blogs written by students from Grand Valley State University who spent their Spring Break volunteering with Greening Forward in Atlanta, Georgia from March 3–10.

Our trip began with a brutal 14-hour van ride to Georgia. While it allowed us to get to know everyone. It was especially relieving when we were able to hop out of the van to a welcoming crew at Rancho Alegre. Pilar, the farm owner, generously lent us their banquet room for the week. A good night’s rest after the long journey down was a great comfort.

Sunday began with our party getting up and exploring the farm. Sergio, the farm manager, kept us busy in the morning cleaning out flower beds and working with the animals. Sunday evening our group decided to journey to downtown Atlanta. Unfortunately, most places were closed but we found our way to the Atlantic Station, where we spent an hour enjoying the shops.

Monday was an especially exciting day. We traveled to Atlanta again to help out at Sylvan Middle School. Joan, a teacher, had projects awaiting us when we arrived. Digging a ditch to relieve stagnant water build-up and replanting the student garden were two of the major tasks. Getting to work with the middle schoolers was a great experience and it was obvious that the kids enjoyed our presence as well.

We also visited an urban garden in College Park where we met Anthony. He provided us with some insight on the best way to start our own gardens while showing us the five acres he farms in the middle of Atlanta.

Tuesday we proceeded with more farm projects and a visit to Mill Creek High School’s Key Club to give a quick presentation to the students about our experience as volunteers for Alternative Breaks and what life as college students is like.

Wednesday was a jam-packed day. We worked at Mill Creek High School with Mrs. Larkin and Charles. We cleaned up A LOT of litter around the school and helped teachers and counselors with busy work. After Charles was dismissed from class we went down to Mulberry Park to pick up more litter. We were met by the mayor of Dacula and learned about the park from the Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation. after that night we met Charles, Stephanie, and Sharon at Moe’s Southwest Grill for some information about Greening Forward. We split into teams to work on projects for Greening Forward. This session was great because not only did we help brainstorm for Greening Forward but it gave us a chance to understand more about the organization itself.

Thursday we met with Charles again and helped with the Earth Saver’s Club at Sweetwater Middle School. We planted a small herb garden and hung bird feeders and houses with the kids. The experience was great because the middle schoolers seemed genuinely interested in learning and working with us.



Greening Forward

Greening Forward establishes, engages, and empowers a diverse global movement of young people for the protection of the environment.