By Sam Piha
Farming the Future offered the following remarks on how to find funding for an afterschool gardening program.
“Having a garden for your school can be one of the most rewarding projects, not only for your students, but also for you! But, as rewarding and special as school gardens can be, they can be difficult to get started. Getting your school garden off the ground and running requires funding and support. If you are having trouble finding grants for your garden, we have just the right resources for you.
Introduction to Grants: For starters, grants are money specially designated for a distinct purpose. They are typically given out to a wide array of those in need of specific funding like businesses, governments, and even individuals. You or your school can also apply for grants. Grants are always for a specific purpose and often require some level of reporting or compliance to the rules stipulated in the grant. In order to get a grant, you will have to apply and follow the rules and guidelines as well as answer the questions provided in the application process. There are many routes to take when applying for grants but one of the best things to do as a precursor to applying is to have a plan. Create a plan that maps out the intended garden size, potential activities, and how a garden will impact your school overall. This plan will strengthen your case to get approval for the garden from your school administration and will help you answer questions when applying for grants. The next step is to actually find grants that are for your project: a new school garden!
Finding Grants for Your Garden Project: Finding grants and applying to them can actually be one of the hardest and most frustrating things when starting a school garden.” Not only does it seem overwhelming with the number of potential grants there are and figuring out where to start, but also applying and waiting on the results can be a pain. A potential helpful tip for this problem is to start somewhat small. Apply to small foundations and grants before swinging for the fences with the larger grants. Also, knowing the proper places for applications and committing to the work will benefit you in the long run. The process can be time consuming but ultimately very rewarding because it can lead you to your very own school garden! Here are some of the best places to find grants for your garden:
One of the most helpful sites is called $eedMoney. This foundation gives out 255 grants totaling in $40,0000 dollars to all kinds of community garden projects, as well as, school gardens. $eedMoney gives grants and raises money based on a crowdfunding challenge that runs a month long. You are also able to donate throughout the year. The great thing about this foundation is that it is a one stop shop for many grants that you could possibly qualify for. They also offer helpful tips on starting a school garden as well as all kinds of regular gardening tips once your garden is up and running.
Another potential website for grants and gardening help is Growing Spaces. This site focuses on selling and building domes and greenhouses, but they also have an entire page for non-profit foundations that offer grants for community gardens. Growing Spaces offers discounts to schools when buying from them which is a nice kicker along with their support. They continually update their list of potential grants and have an email and phone line for those with questions.
There is another route to take when finding or applying for grants and that is through credit unions. Oftentimes, credit unions offer grants to various businesses and schools in order to grow a strong community around them and support their customers. Right here in North Florida, Envision Credit Union offers their own Envision Classroom Grants. This focuses on giving teachers the opportunity to “expand their curriculum and engage their students” (Envision Credit Union). This is perfect for a school garden and the application process is quick and easy.
- Starting a School Garden: A Toolkit for Success Developed by Sydney Klein and Jackson County Health Department, Illinois