Imagine an educational program that can improve students’ health, gets kids excited to learn science and math, and instills a love of nature? School garden programs can accomplish all of these feats and more.
In fact, school gardens are sprouting up across the country, as educators and school administrators begin to realize their many benefits.
For one, they are a hands-on and effective learning tool for teaching just about any subject, including social studies and language arts.
In addition, gardens have multiple beneficial health impacts. Studies on children and adults show that gardening can increase the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables, alleviate stress, and improve cognitive function. Plus, gardening gets kids moving outdoors.
Finally, gardens teach responsibility, teamwork, and environmental stewardship. Children feel a sense of accomplishment and awe as they witness a tiny seed grow into a sprout, and eventually, a plant bearing fruit.
Whether you’re looking to start or expand an existing school garden program, now is the best time. With the beginning of the schoolyear, many school garden grant opportunities are now live and accepting applications. Check the list below to see if any of the programs are a match for your school. (The list includes national programs and those specific to my own state of Florida.) You can also check out the USDA’s “People’s Garden” web site, that has a searchable list of funding opportunities for different types of community and school gardens.
In addition to getting funding for your garden, check out the many resources on the internet for how to create a program at your school, like this awesome guide published by the USDA. (Hint: the first step is constructing a Farm to School Team of interested parents and school staff).
Finally, contact your local Extension Office (a national educational network concerning agricultural matters) for specific information about which crops will do best with your state’s climate.
National School Garden Grants:
Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant Program
The Whole Kids School Garden Grant program provides a $2,000 monetary grant to support an edible educational garden on the grounds of a K-12 school. Schools, or a non-profit organization working in partnership with a school, may apply. Since the grant program started in 2011, garden projects at more than 2,110 schools have received funding.
Deadline: October 31, 2016
Walmart Community Grant
K-12 public, private, and charter schools are eligible to apply for a Community Grant ranging from $250 to $2,500 in four core areas of giving: Hunger Relief & Healthy Eating, Sustainability, Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Opportunity. Schools can apply under the “Healthy Eating” core area. Potential grantees should located within the service area of the Walmart store, Sam’s Club or Logistics facility from which they are requesting funds.
Deadline: December 31, 2016
KidsGardening.org Youth Garden Grant
This grant opportunity will be going live later this fall. Make sure to check the web site so you won’t miss it.
Annie’s Grants for Gardens
This grant opportunity will re-open in November, so be sure to check back then.
Slow Food USA’s National School Garden program + Chipotle
This one is not a grant, but a great fundraising opportunity provided by a partnership between Slow Food USA and Chipotle. Chipotle will host an in-restaurant fundraiser where 50% of the sales are donated back to the school. Chipotle can also donate food for a school garden fundraiser taking place at the school. They can also provide free coupons and materials you can use.
Check it out here: http://gardens.slowfoodusa.org/chipotle-resources-for-school-garden-programs
Florida Specific School Garden Grants:
Florida “Agriculture in the Classroom” Teacher Grants
Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Inc.’s Teacher Grant program strives to fund classroom projects that teach Florida school children about the importance of agriculture and introduce them to agricultural producers and representatives in their areas. The grant is open to general education and agri-science teachers in pre-K through 12th grade who want to use agricultural concepts to teach core subject areas.
Apply at: http://faitc.org/teacher-grant/
Deadline: September 30, 2016. Only the first 40 complete applications will be accepted.
Florida County Farm Bureau School Garden Grants
In addition to the Florida Farm Bureau, County Farm Bureaus may also disburse funds for school garden programs. Check the web site of your county’s farm bureau for more information. To find it, Google the name of your county plus the term “farm bureau” (example: “broward county farm bureau”) or call them directly.
Apply at: County Farm Bureau website
The Technology Education Research & Redesign Alliance’s (TERRA) Mini-Grants are intended to support school-based projects in grades pre-K through 12 that utilize technology in a new and innovative way or sustainability initiatives seeking to encourage and support creative, local environmental education and stewardship activities.
Deadline: September 30, 2016