Contact: Rose Getch
National Gardening Association
(800) 538-7476, ext. 129
Gardener's Supply Company
South Burlington, Vermont (February 15, 2008) - The National Gardening Association (NGA) and Gardener's Supply Company are pleased to announce the winners of the Healthy Sprouts Awards. These in-kind grants support schools and community organizations that use gardens to teach about nutrition and explore the issue of hunger in the United States.
"Malnutrition among children is rampant in this country, but the garden projects undertaken by the Healthy Sprouts Awards applicants are evidence that some people are turning the tide in their communities," says Mike Metallo, president of NGA. "Changing the culture of hunger amidst plenty requires that all people, including youngsters, feel empowered to be part of the solution. Kids and teens who share their harvests are making real contributions to food security in their schools and communities, and they're becoming educated about why so many people in this wealthy country are going hungry and suffering diet-related diseases."
Each of the 20 winning programs has received a gift card towards the purchase of gardening materials from Gardener's Supply Company to support their food gardening projects. The top 5 received cards valued at $500; 15 more received $200 gift cards. Award packages also included educational materials and seeds from NGA.
Here are brief profiles of two of this year's winning programs:
Oakland Based Urban Gardens (OBUGS), Oakland CA
The mission of this grassroots nonprofit is to build healthy communities in a network of neighborhood and school gardens, green spaces, and farmers' markets in West Oakland. All told, they work with four elementary schools to garden a total of one acre of plots! They do it all: in-school instruction supplements lessons in science, health, nutrition, and ecology; after school programs work in the gardens and learn to cook the harvest and discover the health benefits of regular activity; YO!BUGS is an internship program that offers teens pay for working in the garden and learning life skills, social justice activism, nutrition, and environmental education; and a summer camp gives elementary and middle school gives kids all the benefits of the after school program plus educational field trips. More than 75 percent of the participants are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.
Garden educator Christina Cherif says, "OBUGS has a specific in-school curriculum for older students regarding food insecurity and social justice. With each lesson we emphasize the students' role in helping to maintain the gardens and grow food for people in their community who may be hungry. By learning that urban agriculture can enable them to be self-sufficient, as well as give to their community, students become empowered to serve as a model for others."
Early Sprouts Project, Keene, NH
This project is a partnership between Keene State College, Cheshire Medical Center and southwestern New Hampshire Head Start programs. As the name suggests, Early Sprouts focuses on young children, but it also engages parents, providing them with tools for moving towards a healthy lifestyle - all centered around the garden. During the pilot year of Early Sprouts, program leaders reported a significant increase in the number of children who like the vegetables they grew and positive dietary changes in homes of participating families. In 2007, they expanded the Early Sprouts program to a total of 200 children by implementing the program in 8 Head Start classrooms. In addition to growing, maintaining, and tasting an array of vegetables, each week families take home a vegetable-based recipe and all the ingredients to make it to help them establish nutritious eating habits at home. "As 60% of the children in the Early Sprouts program are from families who live at or below the poverty line, the weekly food prep kits may help address food security issues," says Karrie Kallich, Ph.D.R.D., Assistant Professor of Health Science at Keene State. "Early Sprouts has motivated many families to plant gardens in order to provide fresh produce to help meet their household needs."
For a full list of winners, and to obtain an application for the 2008 grant cycle, please visit here.
About the Sponsors
Gardener's Supply Company was founded in 1983 by a handful of enthusiastic Vermont gardeners. Today, they serve millions of gardeners nationwide, offering products from seed-starting supplies to garden furniture. To learn more about how Gardener's Supply Company is improving the world through gardening, visit www.gardeners.com.
Founded in 1973, the National Gardening Association is a national nonprofit leader in plant-based education, respected for its award-winning Web sites and newsletters, grants and curricula for youth gardens, and research for the lawn and garden industry. NGA's mission is to advance the personal, community, and educational benefits of gardening by supporting gardeners and teachers with information and resources. To learn more about gardening with children and youth, please visit www.kidsgardening.org.