Youth gardens are such wonderful spaces for kids to build community, self-confidence, and so much more. The GroMoreGood Grassroots Grant, brought to you by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening, is designed to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens to communities across the United States. The grants are part Scotts’ larger GroMoreGood initiative, which aims to bring gardens and greenspaces to 10 million children by the end of 2023. Of the 160 grantees, five are also awarded the GroPride grant, designed to fund new and existing garden programs that serve a majority of LGBTQ+ youth.
“GroPride is dedicated to fostering an inclusive, supportive network that empowers all associates to bring their whole selves to work every day,” says Matt Groves, President of ScottsMiracle-Gro’s GroPride associate group. “It gives us great pride that KidsGardening and our Foundation provide gardening grants that give LGBTQ+ kids an outlet to be themselves.” In honor of Pride Month, we are rounding up the wonderful work these programs are doing to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in the garden and create spaces that are joyful and welcoming to all.
Holland Patent High School
“This club was started by LGBTQ+ youth who are environmentally aware and wanted to explore a common interest/passion of theirs. By coming together and starting this club, it gave students a safe space to be themselves while socializing, learning, and exploring,” says Sarah Joseph, Spanish Teacher at Holland Patent High School and co-advisor of the Holland Patent Gardening Club.
“This past week, our high school students put in their time, sweat, and effort to build and fill four raised beds in our school courtyard. At this time, we've planted a few annuals and some end-of-season tulips that were donated from a local greenhouse just to bring color to the space for the last couple weeks of school. The beds are visible from many classrooms as well as the large windows in the school library, so hopefully it will bring joy as students are studying for exams! One unique idea that the group came up with for next year would be to construct an additional raised bed specifically for cut flowers. We would plant zinnias and other early summer varieties in a rainbow of colors and then cut small bouquets to give away or sell for fundraising efforts. Given the nature of the grant, it would be amazing to sell bouquets during the month of June for PRIDE month. Any profits from that sale would go directly back to helping LGBTQ+ youth in our community — either by partnering with and giving back to our school’s GSA or making a donation to the CNY Q Center.”
True Colors Flint Hill
“True Colors is a nonprofit located in Manhattan, KS that serves middle and high school-aged LGBTQ+ youth in the Manhattan area through education, advocacy, resources, and support. As a result of our organization being youth-led, our garden program will also be youth-led, which will teach responsibility to our youth in an exciting, tangible way,” says Katie Baker, Executive Director of True Colors Flint Hills. “We hope that youth involved in the program will develop a passion for gardening and learn to love being involved in the outdoors at a capacity they may not have been exposed to prior to this opportunity. Our garden program’s mission is to promote learning, cultivate joy, and increase mental well-being through the rewarding process of growing and gardening. We know that gardening will bring challenges and we know our youth will grow from this process. In Manhattan we have our big Pride celebration in April (because we are a college town). The youth organized a big picnic before Pride began where we all hung out, then they marched in the parade and helped us at our booth during the event. There is a big drag performance and our youth were in the audience cheering the performers on! Our herbs are going crazy so one of our more invested youth is researching on how to dry and store herbs so we can use them throughout the year. Throughout the course of summer our youth will incorporate our ingredients into snacks and meals for the house. We just cleared out another patch by the house and planted pumpkins for Halloween! It has been exciting for them to see the rewards of their hard work. I am so proud of them and their ongoing investment.”
“The KidsPeace Georgia Youth Garden program is an all-inclusive program for any and all youth to participate in while they reside at KidsPeace. We view this program as a way for youth to have an outlet not only to learn but to express themselves through their involvement with gardening,” says Ashley Denton, KidsPeace Unit Supervisor. “We have been committed to incorporating the benefits of gardens and gardening in our therapeutic approach to mental healthcare for many years, and we’re excited about our new ability to do so thanks to the GroMoreGood grants. So far this spring the children in our therapeutic programs have created an additional three raised garden beds and they are currently planting with the funds from the GroMoreGood garden grant. At KidsPeace, youth are encouraged to be themselves and embraced for the uniqueness that makes each person their own special self. Currently, there are sixteen youth, over one third of the population in care, who openly identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride grant funding is supporting a “stepping stone” awareness project adjacent to the garden, which will be completed in June as part of our “Pride Month” activities. Youth will use their creativity to make garden stepping stones with various art mediums to be placed in and around the raised garden beds by each living unit to give these spaces more color and character.”
Montessori School of Durham
“With the guidance of Rainbow Collective for Change, we have started a "Rainbow Club" for which all elementary-age students are eligible. Our goal is to help MSD families learn about and practice solidarity across intersecting marginalized identities,” says Laura Jackman, Toddler Teacher and Campus Beautification Committee founder. “The Rainbow Club helped create our rainbow-inspired native garden that surrounds our Little Solidarity Library. This library houses inclusive and informative books that will help celebrate Pride both in Pride month and throughout the year! It is located by the sidewalk on the main road and is accessible to children at the school and the many passersby on the road from the surrounding workplaces and neighborhoods. The garden will burst into color in June. The children painted the Little Solidarity Library in rainbow colors and signed their names with their pronouns. With funding from this grant, the children have created rainbow-themed stepping stones to the library from the sidewalk by the road, and helped in the planting and mulching. It is a beautiful and inviting scene that is welcoming, educational, and fun. It's safe to say they're taking great "pride" in it!”
Cultivating Connections Montana
“CCMT hopes to create a welcoming and safe space within our new teaching garden, which will not only serve as a place of learning about agriculture but also a safe space to open discussions about acceptance, kindness, and respect," says Isabella Easley, Youth Engagement Coordinator at Cultivating Connections Montana. "While working with youth, we often find that being surrounded by plants, green spaces, and soil helps them open up to staff and peers about things they may not feel comfortable discussing otherwise, and as such, we hope our teaching garden will provide a space for youth to feel safe enough to discuss their identities. The Pride Specialty Award will be used to build, paint, and place Pride benches in and around our teaching garden. Not only do we hope these benches will allow LGBTQ+ youth to feel safe and supported when visiting the farm campus, but our goal is also that through the building and painting of the benches, our youth interns and AmeriCorps members will engage in meaningful discussions about LGBTQ+ allyship (or membership) and how they can support themselves and each other.”