The youth garden movement has grown steadily in the past decade as more educators, caregivers, and families get excited about garden-based learning opportunities for kids. With that, the number of national and state grants available for youth gardens has increased.
To better understand the scope and impact of grant-making to youth gardens nationwide, and whether funding is keeping pace with demand, KidsGardening, Big Green, Captain Planet Foundation, Green Our Planet, Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, and Whole Kids Foundation conducted a national survey in March 2023 that revealed more than $14M was awarded to youth gardens in 2022 in the form of about 3,000 grants.
That might sound like a lot, yet with more than 70 million kids in the US, the demand far outpaces the funding. In fact, KidsGardening has found that finding funding is often the biggest challenge facing youth garden programs.
Dollar-wise, grants for youth gardens aren't huge, the survey found that the median size of grants for youth gardens is just $4,425. Yet this amount of funding has an outsized impact. On average, one youth garden touches the lives of a hundred children annually.
The organizations surveyed funded their youth garden grant programs using a range of sources, from foundation and corporation funding to federal, state, and local funding. Programs in Maine and Florida found innovative ways to support youth gardening by using a percentage of a state’s specialty license plates!
For many youth gardens, the benefits extend beyond their borders as kids grow food to donate to those in need in their community. Seventy-three percent of the grantmakers surveyed reported their grants supported edible gardens for youth and their communities.
Our survey found that 84% of grantmakers fund schools. Right behind schools includes school districts, preschools, and non-profits, all at 61%. Other program types include child care centers, head starts, libraries, YMCAs, homes, churches, and after-school programs.
Finally, organizations shared which states and territories they funded, and every state, territory, and the District of Columbia received a grant in 2022 except for the Northern Mariana Islands.
Thank you to the organizations listed below for completing the survey. And, thank you to the many other organizations who shared and helped us outreach about the national survey. While thirty-one organizations completed this survey, this data does not include all youth garden grant funding in the United States. It is our hope to continue to gather additional data in future surveys.
Organizations That Completed the Survey:
National or Multiple State/Territory Grantmakers: American Heart Association, Big Green, Captain Planet Foundation, FoodCorps, Green Our Planet, KidsGardening, ReTreeUS, SeedMoney, Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, USDA Food and Nutrition Service - Community Food Systems Division, Vital Communities, and Whole Kids Foundation.
One State/Territory Grantmakers: Alabama Partnership for Children, CT Department of Agriculture, Florida Agriculture in the Classroom, Idaho Botanical Garden, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems, Montana State University, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Oregon Department of Education, RI Farm to School Network, Sage Garden Project, South Carolina Farm to School Program, The Food Trust, University of Missouri Extension, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah State Board of Education, Vermont Agency of Agriculture - Food and Markets, VI Good Food Coalition, Inc., and Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.