Harmony's Heart of Wisconsin: A 12-year-old's mission to feed her community

NOW: Harmony’s Heart of Wisconsin: A 12-year-old’s mission to feed her community

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Most 12-year-olds are scrolling on social media during their time off, but one hometown preteen uses her days to help others.

"That's kind of helped me keep going, knowing that the people I help are very appreciative," Aubrey Zell said.

Aubrey found her calling a lot earlier than most. At just six years old, she witnessed a man experiencing homelessness being mistreated inside a local restaurant.

"I just saw that he was over there, and something clicked in my head. I was like, 'Oh let's get him something to eat,'" she explained.

Since that moment, Aubrey has been dedicated to helping others.

"It feels really nice that I'm able to give them what they need," Aubrey said.

With her Mother Mellissa Zell by her side, Aubrey volunteers and gives back whenever she can.

"She notices somebody on a street corner who needs a meal, we stop, we get something. We put blessing bags in our cars with basic necessities that we take for granted," Melissa said. "So, she's very unique, very philanthropic. If there's something she can do for somebody else, she does it."

The family started a non-profit: Harmony's Heart of Wisconsin.

"If she could give the world a hug and make all of the bad things go away, she would," Melissa said.

While the non-profit is called Harmony's Heart of Wisconsin, Aubrey is its namesake.

"Harmony is my road name because my parents ride motorcycles," she explained.

The nickname is fitting because Aubrey wants to see her community live amicably.

"Her compassion is beyond belief," Melissa said. "Most kids worry about themselves. They worry about, 'Hey, the next iPhone.' Aubrey is more worried about, 'Hey the guy on the street who needs a meal.' She's a special, special girl."

One way Aubrey gives back is through food, but she quickly found that one important part of a healthy diet was scarce at local food pantries.

"They didn't always have enough fresh produce to give out to everybody. They have over 200 people at a time when they open," Aubrey said.

That is what drove her to give her green thumb a try.

"That following Summer, she said, 'Hey, mommy, can we plant a garden? I just want to give it away,'" Melissa explained. "That one plot the following year was three plots, the following was four plots, and last year it was six plots."

Aubrey started planting fruits and vegetables in local community gardens but always knew she could do more.

"I've always wanted my own [garden] since we started at the community garden because we've always used other people's. So, we can't have it all year round," Aubrey said.

Now, she can have it all year round because the pair have secured a city-owned empty plot near 58th and Chambers for the new and improved "Harmony's Harvest."

"I feel lucky to have my own garden, and it's a ginormous space," Aubrey said. "My passion is gardening; it feels different because I haven't met a kid my age whose passion is gardening. It's kind of a unique passion to have, but I love my passion because I love gardening."

Equipped with 20 garden beds, a greenhouse for year-round growing, and a community healing space, the plan is to have it up and running by Memorial Day weekend.

"There's going to be a bunch of raised beds, and there's going to be a little library," Aubrey said.

To pay for expenses, they are applying for a great. However, monetary and physical donations are needed to allow Aubrey to grow and provide fresh produce to food pantries every weekend. There is a GoFundMe page to help cover costs, as well as an Amazon Wishlist for items.

For more information, visit their website.

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