Writing a Winning School Garden Grant

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A common question that NGA often receives from grant applicants is, “WhatCedar Springs Waldorf 2011 Youth Garden Grant WinnerCedar Springs Waldorf 2011 Youth Garden Grant Winner makes a youth garden grant application a winner?” Truly, it comes down to planning and/or implementing a good program; one that possesses enthusiastic community support, creatively meets the specific needs of the youth it serves, and is sustainable. The application simply asks that you effectively communicate the many qualities and benefits of the program in concise, descriptive language.

Once you’ve completed the application, ask someone to proofread it for you. We suggest asking a friend or family member who’s not involved with your school gardening program to read your application. They can offer a fresh perspective and may be better able to identify an area that needs clarification or elaboration than someone who has helped plan or implement the garden project.

Completing a grant application can give you the opportunity to look into the history of the garden and the programming that has taken place.  NGA's grant applications ask programs to provide a list of leaders and support organizations. This is a chance to find out who has contributed to the garden and perhaps an opportunity to reconnect with those people who have made a difference. 

Here are highlights of a few 2011-2012 grant winners that are fine examples of well organized and inspiring projects.

Druid City Club at University Place Elementary 

2011 Vlasic Farmer's Garden Grant

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

On April 27, 2011, our school was destroyed by a powerful tornado that devastated many of Tuscaloosa, Alabama’s communities. Our garden was also damaged and we lost many of our implements. Though the garden recovered, our school was moved to an interim location. One of the many challenges we faced after the storm was to secure the resources to be aDruid City Club at University Place Elementary 2012 Vlasic WinnerDruid City Club at University Place Elementary 2012 Vlasic Winnerble to continue our garden outreach program with the University Place students at their new school. We were fortunate enough to find a community partner who was willing to sponsor and assist with the building of six raised beds, as well as pay for soil and irrigation materials.

So far, our gardening program is off to a great start. In September, we began actively working with 14 classes from the elementary school, aged pre-K to 5th grade, as well as students from the autism program. Our program works with over 200 students! Students visit the garden every two weeks for handson learning with DCGP staff and volunteers, and also have the opportunity to visit the garden during their class time to augment learning in science, math, reading, and writing. Over the last 2 months, students have seeded carrots and radishes, planted Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, collard greens, bok choy, cilantro, cabbage, mustard greens, and strawberries, and have helped water, weed, mulch, and harvest. Students also made a bok choy slaw and did “kitchen math” as part of a cooking lesson. In addition to biweekly educational activities, this year’s classes have the option of participating in a complementary program called “Salad Days”. During this time, DCGP staff prepare a “garden snack” for students in the classroom and demonstrate proper food preparation skills and talk about good eating


Earth Care

2012 Home Depot Youth Garden Grant Winner
Sante Fe, New Mexico

Earth Care staff have successfully overseen the launching of six community gardens and one urban farm in the City of Santa Fe, and have made sure that there is space for youth voices in the planning and execution of the gardens. We have approached the Zona del Sol Board of Directors (they are the group managing this area of land) about creating a youth-led community garden, and they are supportive. The Zona del Sol Board has expressed wanting to develop this area of land for some time, and is excited to have found a group who is able to take it on. As an organization that serves primarily minority and low-income youth, we have extensive experience designing projects and programming that are inclusive, accessible, and empowering. Participants will gain confidence and a sense of agency as they connect gardening, their health, and environmental restoration. Participants will also gain a sense of community and belonging as they enhance this relatively young/new neighborhood. They will explore their personal lifestyle choices and how they can positively impact their health and the environment. 


Smilie Elementary School

2011 Healthy Sprouts Winner

Bolton, Vermont

This grant is a collaboration between Smilie School and the Greater Burlington YMCA after school program that is on this site. The director of the Y After School for Smilie is Brenda Brigham. Brenda is a registered in Horticultural Therapy (HTR). Throughout the school year both in our academic programs and in our after School programs students will receive instruction in nutrition and hunger. Both nutrition and hunger are topics in science, social studies, health and physical education units of study. Students grow plants in pre-school, kindergarten, and first grade. Students study Vermont farming and nutrition in first and second grades. We also have a health curriculum that teaches nutrition, healthy eating, and the value of physical exercise in our physical education and guidance programs. Third and fourth grades have units of learning that explore photosynthesis, life cycles, and the water cycle. With parent volunteers in our after school programs students will be working toward making the raised beds and exploring the best varieties of plants for our climate and needs.

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