The Gardens for Good program was born from the success of our previous community garden initiatives and most notably our 2009 Compassion Into Action organic breakfast and food bank fundraiser, which raised over $250,000 in cash and food for the Greater Vancouver and Richmond Food Banks. As we looked to encourage other communities to provide accessible, healthy, organic foods, the Gardens for Good Grant program was born in the spring of 2010.
As our founder and CEO, Arran Stephens, puts it: “Our goal is to plant it forward. By providing access to healthy, organic food and the education needed to grow it, we hope to encourage and cultivate socially responsible community leaders who will bring people together to feed those in need.”
So with the help of Organic Gardening magazine, we just wrapped up our 3rd successful Gardens For Good grant contest on July 1st, which is now an annual program. Each year, three deserving non-profits who demonstrate a passion and vision for organic urban farming will each receive a grant of $15,000 toward an organic, community garden project. Where the gardens bloom is left up to the people – passionate community members and organizations are encouraged to go to our Facebook page to apply and vote. From the nine organizations (six U.S. and three Canadian) that receive the most public votes, Nature’s Path will choose three winners (two in the U.S. and one in Canada based on the strength of the application) to become the recipients of: a cash grant, technical design and production mentorship provided by Organic Gardening magazine, and support for a garden dedication celebration.
We have been so inspired by these incredible organizations that are making big impacts on their local communities, and it is a true privilege to be able to support them and help further their work. Each of these remarkable organizations share our vision to provide organic food for those who might not have access to it, and we are honored to be able to walk the path toward making positive change in the world together.
We welcome you to get to know the winners from the last three years & encourage you to put forward your own application in the Spring of 2013!
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.