The Youth Garden Grant

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The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,241 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces, Mexico and China. Visit The Home Depot Garden Club site for more information.

Plants. Soil. Shovels.

Inspiration. Motivation. Recognition.

As sponsor of the Youth Garden Grant Program, The Home Depot provides schools and nonprofit organizations with the tangible and intangible supplies needed to grow and sustain vibrant youth gardening programs.

Partnering with the National Gardening Association since 2005, The Home Depot has provided 1,025 grants worth $410,000 to schools and youth organizations throughout the country. Some grant winners are at the start of their programs just digging in for the first time, while others are expanding upon successful existing gardening endeavors. Reaching all demographics in urban, suburban and rural locations, the award winning programs have reached an estimated 250,000 youth. The gardens themselves are as diverse as the participants ranging from raised beds growing bountiful supplies of vegetables to large butterfly gardens using native plants. Providing hope, joy, and positive learning experiences to young gardeners are what the programs have in common.

Beyond the direct support provided by gift cards to The Home Depot, the grants are like magic bean seeds producing far more than often anticipated. Awarded gardening programs report that the recognition of their efforts results in generous support of administrators, leverage to gather donations from other community entities, and the ability to recruit talented volunteers. Just completing the application, helps garden leaders solidify plans and gather support for their program.

The Home Depot’s support of school and youth garden programs will also result in impacts beyond each individual garden program. Research shows that instilling a love for gardening in youth produces a lasting effect resulting in adults with a passion for plants and respect for the environment. Youth gardens and garden activities improve environmental attitudes and connect youth with nature. They serve as a tool to teach core curricula and to hone social skills like cooperation, patience, and leadership promoting the development of a solid work ethic and community spirit. Gardening encourages youth to try healthy foods and adopt fruit and vegetable rich eating habits. The benefits are endless.

December 3rd is the deadline for applications for the 2013 Youth Garden Grants. Thanks to the continued generosity of The Home Depot Garden Club, five winners will receive gift cards valued at $1,000, and 95 winners will receive $500 gift cards, to purchase gardening materials and supplies from their local Home Depot store specific to the needs of their program. Visit for more details and to apply online.

Here is a brief look at the recipients receiving the top 5 awards for the 2012 Youth Garden Grants:

Henry David Thoreau Elementary

Expanding on an existing outdoor classroom, the students at Henry David Thoreau Elementary in Madison, Wisconsin, used the funds from their Youth Garden Grant to establish a new community rain garden. A student-led effort created an 850 square foot rain garden (with one plant per square foot) utilizing 35 different species of native wildflowers, grasses and sedges. Additional enhancements to the garden included a bench for contemplative study and observation, student-created stepping stones, a peace pole, and an educational sign. Part of a larger community effort, this garden is one of 450 rain gardens established around the city.

“The extent to which the project was student led, particularly throughout garden planning and design is a great source of pride for the project team,” says Stephanie Robinson, parent and garden coordinator. “This was, undoubtedly, an experience these children will remember for a lifetime and, hopefully, they will impart their new understanding to many others. The Youth Garden Grant enabled the project team to create a garden sized adequately to control stormwater runoff, while at the same time creating a beautiful, lasting focus for outdoor education, nature appreciation and environmental stewardship. This would have been impossible without the grant, given current tight budgets and the competition for resources.”

Hughs Middle School

Plans for a Watershed Demonstration Garden to teach 6th Grade Ecology Life Science prompted Hughs Middle School in Long Beach California to apply for the 2012 Youth Garden Grant. An innovative design to encourage learning through experimentation, the garden is divided into two sections. One half of the garden demonstrates the best gardening practices including a rainwater harvesting system, permeable surfaces, water conserving irrigation, and native plants that attract local wildlife. The second half features poor gardening practices including traditional storm water management system, non-permeable surfaces, standard irrigation, and non-native turf and plants not naturally suited to the local climate. A living laboratory, teachers will be able to simulate rain on the garden so that students can witness how the design features in each case study either add to, or eliminate, run-off, flooding, and the spread of pollution.

“In addition to teaching about sustainable design, our project will also have actual environmental benefits,” explains Green Team Advisor Cathy Procopio. The entire garden will annually capture, filter, infiltrate and store gallons of rain and roof run-off water. Any simulated or actual rainwater captured in the poor practices section will actually be stored and used in the garden irrigation system. The garden will prevent litter, chemicals, particulate matter, bio-toxins, and other pollutants from entering our storm drain system, the LA River, and the beaches of Long Beach. It will restore habitat for native plants, insects, and birds – creating a wildlife oasis.”

Thurgood Marshall Middle School

“It is deeply satisfying to hear the students marvel at how they can put a seed into soil, water it, keep an eye on it, and it will become a tasty radish, carrot or pea or wild bevy of flowers,” says Sophia Barashkoff, coordinator of the Thurgood Marshall Community Garden in Olympia, Washington. “Knowing that they understand first hand a bit of the miracle of life through this small act has made it all worth the effort. I see the wonder in the student’s wide eyes when they ask questions about photosynthesis and when they come back after a week and can’t believe how much their plants have grown.”

“Being awarded the grant has furthered the goal of the Marshall Community Garden to provide an educational experience in ecologically minded gardening. Recognition for receiving grants funds has inspired other donors and enabled the students, staff, and community members to become more engaged and committed to being a part of this vital opportunity.”

Community Access Unlimited

Community Access Unlimited is a nonprofit organization based in Elizabeth, New Jersey working to enable people with disabilities to live more fully within their communities. With the Youth Garden Grant, they established a raised bed garden at one of their residential sites in Roselle to help youth with developmental disabilities build self-esteem and social skills while fostering positive interactions with their neighborhood. This summer, youth gardeners planted herbs and vegetables in front of the residence for all to enjoy. The success of the garden is evident in the plans to expand the program. “It has been so exciting to see how quickly the idea of creating the first garden at one of CAU's youth homes, became a commitment to create gardens at all of the 40+ houses CAU maintains,” shares Development Director Sharon Passas. “The Youth Garden Grant CAU received this year has made a big impact on the lives of its members.”

University of Missouri Children’s Hospital

The motto for the new “Happy Garden” at the University of Missouri Children’s Hospital in Columbia lets the community know that it is a place “Where healthy food, grows happy healthy children.” Consisting of raised beds and containers gardens, the primary goal of the garden is to educate youth and families about how to build their own gardens and use the harvest in everyday cooking activities. “The garden binds together health and wellness while bringing a sense of community to this special space,” shares Michelle Imes, Coordinator of the Pediatric Injury Prevention and Safety Outreach Program.

“This grant opportunity made this project all possible, without this grant and your belief in our program, we would not have created such a wonderful space for our hospital to share with the community.”

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