Contests encourage school and community gardens
By REBECCA PERRY / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Big, juicy, organically grown tomatoes; crisp green peppers; perfectly purple eggplant and enough freshly dug potatoes to share with local families in need are reasons enough to tend a plot in a community garden.
Still need convincing? Consider fresh air, exercise and conversation with neighbors. The reasons for community gardens can pile up in a hurry. The cost of gardening materials can add up, too, but there are resources available to help community-minded gardeners meet their goals.
Grants and award programs aimed specifically at school and community gardens are multiplying. They reward chosen recipients with plants, tools and more. The programs are listed in order of application deadline. Stay informed on additional funding opportunities at sites including www.kids gardening.com/grants.asp or www.csrees.usda.gov/business/business.html as new deadlines are posted and other grant information becomes available.
Bayer Advanced “Grow Together With Roses” School Garden Award
This award helps school and community organizations beautify their world with roses. It is intended for groups with the goals of nurturing peaceful relations and involving community members who will be gardening with children between the ages of 3 and 18.
10 rosebushes and education materials
Application deadline: Jan. 23, 2009
Lowe’s Toolbox for Education
Nonprofit public schools for grades K through 12 may apply for grants that cover a variety of education projects. Suggested projects include turning an outdoor space into an inviting reading garden with benches, walkways, shady trees and flowers or planting a vegetable garden where history, social studies, math and science all come together in an active way. $2,000 to $5,000 per school.
Application deadline: Feb. 13, 2009 (or sooner, once 1,500 applications are received)
Fiskars Project Orange Thumb
Getting needed tools in the hands of community gardeners is the idea behind this project. A range of groups – community centers, clubs, youth groups, etc. – are eligible to submit their community garden, neighborhood beautification or horticulture education project. Up to $1,500 in Fiskars Tools; up to $800 for garden materials such as plants, seeds and mulch.
Application deadline: Feb. 17, 2009
Past winners have included schools, churches, correctional facilities, community gardens and many other organizations. Charitable and educational not-for-profit groups trying to increase their community’s access to fresh, nutritious foods are welcome to apply. 25 programs will each receive a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator
Application deadline: March 1, 2009
Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards
This award targets nonprofit community groups striving to turn local eyesores into oases by planting trees, bushes and shrubs. Project examples include reclaiming an abandoned lot by creating a fruit orchard to provide fruit to nearby residents or refurbishing the landscape in a community park. Grand prize $2,500 in plants; first place $1,500 in plants; second place $1,000 in plants.
Application deadline: April 1, 2009
Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program
This year more than 1 million third-graders will be planting and tending their own cabbage plants from Bonnie Plants, according to the company’s Web site. More third-grade teachers are invited to sign up for next year’s round. Free cabbage plants; $1,000 scholarship awarded to one student in each participating state.
Application deadline: Sept. 1, 2009
Healthy Sprouts Awards
Kids working together in a garden get much-needed exercise in addition to benefiting from healthful fresh veggies. Through these awards, the National Gardening Association supports youth garden programs focused on nutrition and hunger issues. School and youth programs for kids ages 3 to 18 may apply. $200 to $500 in Gardener’s Supply Co. gift certificates and 25 packets of seeds.
Application deadline: Oct. 15, 2009 (applications available Feb. 1, 2009)
Operation Green Plant
America the Beautiful Fund offers grants of free seeds to community groups. 100 to 1,000 packets of vegetable, flower and herb seeds (you pay $14.95 for shipping and handling for the first 100 packets, $5 for each additional set of 100). Applications accepted throughout the year.