There are so many people leaving the earth a better place and we want to help them! In 2010 Nature’s Path partnered up with Organic Gardening Magazine to create the Gardens for Good Grant contest to support organic community garden projects across North America that are feeding their community by growing healthy organic foods. Every year we are inspired by the applications we received, which continue to grow in number– a testament to a community food movement blooming from the ground up!
Every year, three not for profit gardening programs are selected as the recipient of a $15,000 grant. Their stories are below. We encourage you to read, be inspired and put forward your own application in the Fall of 2014!
The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is a hyper-local organization that serves residents from the North End community of Detroit where immense amount of vacant land and structures have become a challenge for the growth and sustainability of the city, but also provide unique opportunity for urban agriculture. The organization’s efforts have been focused on developing the area into a community resource that provides a comprehensive set of agriculture-based resources from educational programming to large-scale community gardens and several pilot programs designed to cost-effectively convert community liabilities into assets. The Gardens for Good Grant will help install new windows and a secure roof on their community resource center and also begin major renovations required to get empty spaces up and running.
Tri-Isle Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc’s Hali’imaile Community Garden project serves residents on the Island of Maui, and works to build a community around food self-sufficiency through educational outreach and garden space. Their newest undertaking
, the Goodwill Garden, grows produce specifically for weekly donations to local food banks and organizations that feed the hungry to provide fresher, more nutritious food to those in the community that need it most. The Goodwill Garden was established in April 2012, and has provided several hundred pounds of fresh produce each month to help feed the hungry. The Gardens for Good Grant will help grow the Goodwill Garden and assist other programs that provide better nutrition to participants and the hungry and homeless of Maui.
The rare Charitable Research Reserve located in southern Ontario is a 900+ acre nature reserve based in Cambridge/North Dumfries that aims to protect a unique landscape and engage the community in nature. Their Springbank Gardens provide a large natural area for people of all ages to get active through gardening and growing their own healthy, sustainable food. The gardens are composed of three areas including education and demonstration gardens, and a Community Roots Food Bank Garden, and 100 community plots. A partnership with the local food bank allows the organization to give fresh, organic produce directly to those in the community who need it most. The Gardens for Good Grant will help improve the gardens by standardizing field sizes, expanding irrigation into the new Food Bank Garden and other projects to enhance the community gardens.
AVAIL: Friends of the Houseless serves to meet the needs of the houseless community of Birmingham, Alabama. With its 48 raised garden boxes on a one-acre farm, AVAIL Urban Farms grows food for meal sharing in the houseless community and for local farmer’s markets and grocers. Since 2011, AVAIL has grown and harvested 16 varieties of produce. With the Gardens for Good Grant, AVAIL will expand the Urban Farms to additional locations with the hope of serving more people while continuing to bring about positive change on the streets of Birmingham.
South Kensington Community Partners is a hyper-local organization serving Philadelphia’s South/Olde Kensington neighborhood, working to strengthen and revitalize the community and private gardens. Three main community gardens include La Finquita, a newly revamped urban farm which recently started the neighborhood’s first farm stand (where items are sold below market rate and even given away); Cohocksink, which donates a portion of their produce to a local food bank; and Tillmon, which was originally created as part of a low-income housing development. The Gardens for Good Grant will fund the start of a South Kensington Youth Garden Corps (SKY GC), which will provide training, educational workshops and employment to local adolescents to assist with neighborhood garden maintenance.
Perth and District Food Bank in Perth, Ontario has provided emergency food access to its low-income community for 15 years. With the mission of increasing access to healthy food in a way that maintains dignity, builds community and challenges inequality, the organization provides community meals, cooking and gardening classes and peer advocacy. The Gardens for Good Grant will contribute to an 8000-square-foot organic fruit and vegetable garden and to teaching gardening and food growing to low income community members, including demonstrating the use of environmentally-sustainable practices, such as rainwater harvesting, bicycle technology, and composting.
CAPI is a Minneapolis-based organization focused on social justice and anti-poverty initiatives among immigrants and refugees in the Twin Cities. They support their community in many different ways, from providing gardening tools and supplies, to securing site permissions and assisting residents in preparing the community garden site for planting. The Gardens for Good Grant will help CAPI create new gardens in poverty-stricken neighborhoods and make improvements to existing gardens. A portion of the gardeners’ harvest will also benefit the wider community through CAPI’s Food Shelf and Elder Care program.
GroW Gardens is a volunteer-led program at Washington D.C.’s George Washington University. Harvests from the gardens serve local Miriam’s Kitchen, a social service agency that provides nutritious meals, case management, and art therapy to local homeless and at-risk citizens. The Gardens for Good Grant will help enhance the existing garden infrastructure and expand the project to other sites in order to maximize yields and serve more people.
The Hamilton Community Garden Network (HCGN) is a vibrant but small group of committed garden enthusiasts who provide a wide array of support to emerging and established community gardens in Hamilton, Ontario. The Gardens for Good Grant will be used to fund Oliver’s Garden Project, a program that provides individual citizens with the knowledge and resources needed to share the organic produce from their backyard with the wider community.
Vallejo People’s Garden is a community coalition grown out of hard times following the closure of their city’s Naval Shipyard and enduring struggle with the economic downturn. The grant will allow the coalition, comprised of volunteers from the Global Center for Success, the Betty Frank Senior Lunch Program, Community Action Partnership Solano, and the Regional Office of the USDA Forest Service, to create a “People’s Garden” which will provide fresh organic produce for the area’s homeless and needy. The garden will also serve the people of Vallejo as an outdoor classroom and a community hub for all ages.
The Damayan Garden Project’s mission is to promote sustainable, local food production and sow the seeds of healthy living and ecological awareness through hands-on gardening activities. The organization plans to use Nature’s Path’s grant to fund a garden that would contribute to local food drives, help teach children where food comes from, inspire enthusiasm about healthy eating, re-establish a lacking sense of community and encourage people to take control of what they eat.