Community gardens are often developed by city parks groups, nonprofits, individuals or schools who want to enhance their community or grow their own food. Community gardens have many positive impacts, such as supporting healthy lifestyles through the growing of local and organic fruits and vegetables, strengthening the sense of community in the area, promoting self-sufficiency, helping children develop responsibility and appreciation for the environment, and revitalizing neighborhoods.
To support this growing community effort, the Darden Foundation is excited to once again partner with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) on the 2014 Grow Your Park program. This program awards grants to community gardens that benefit low-income families. Through the grants, recipients create or enlarge community gardens that provide healthy produce to food banks and other organizations serving those in need. We’re proud of this partnership that reinforces our commitment to preserving our planet’s resources and making local impacts in communities across the country.
Last year, the Grow Your Park program donated more than 3,000 pounds of produce to low-income families, created two greenhouses, expanded over two acres of gardens, and supported 31 raised beds and many other garden necessities, such as fencing, soil, seeds, tools and water tanks. One of last year’s grant recipients, the Rosemont Park District in Rosemont, Illinois, transformed a gravel lot into a community garden. In an area where the average income is $25,000, families were able to come together as a community to grow fresh produce for themselves and for local charities. You can read more about the transformation of Rosemont Park District’s community garden here.
We’re excited to see what our 2014 Grow Your Park grant recipients will be able to do. From composting initiatives to growing vegetables to transforming underutilized plots of land, we can’t wait to see where and how all these new gardens can grow. To apply for a 2014 Grow Your Park grant, visit NRPA’s website. For more information about the Darden’s preservation goals, visit theDarden Foundation website. Stay tuned as we provide updates on this year’s recipients.