Larry Keyes – Director of IT & Foundation Relations

What does an art teacher, a substance abuse recovery program director, a cooperative extension agent, and an elementary school cafeteria manager have in common? They all applied for and were awarded Youth Garden Grants for 2016.

This year’s Youth Garden Grants from consisted of tools, seeds, soil, and irrigation equipment to assist in starting or enhancing a school or community garden. Our team was impressed by the diversity, number and quality of grant applications, and we were especially gratified by the number of innovative programs and original ideas that were presented.

Here are two winning programs we'd like to highlight:

Julie Midkiff, Art Teacher at Bradley Elementary School in Mount Hope West Virginia, proposed a collaboration with the school, the PTO, local farmers and gardeners to create the Community O'Keeffe Flower and Vegetable Garden project with two objectives:

  • Teach  third, fourth, and fifth graders about the tools and processes of cultivating, raising, and harvesting flowers and vegetables then incorporate these lessons and activities into the school’s curriculum.
  • Provide living examples of flowers and vegetables for students to explore when studying Georgia O’Keeffe in art class.

Another example of an inspirational youth garden program came from Amy Voles, Program Director at the Preferred Family Healthcare Kirksville Adolescent Program in Kirksville, Missouri. Their team intends to create the Growth and Recovery Garden to provide opportunities for personal growth and change for youth experiencing substance use disorders and related issues. Goals that they included in their application included:

  • Instill and model responsibility necessary to nurture growth in the actual garden.
  • Use the process of gardening as an analogy and processing tool related to the effort of personal growth and change.
  • Provide life skills training and education related to nutritional and healing properties of plants and use of these plants through basic culinary training.
  • Provide an outlet for expression and stress management through the incorporation of garden art and a meditation space.

In addition to their innovative approach, these Youth Garden Grant winners also demonstrated a strong leadership team, partnerships with surrounding community organizations, and planning for a sustainable garden project.

Congratulations to all 20 of our YGG 2016 winners! We look forward to sharing more ideas and tips from these exceptional programs with you in future blog posts.

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