Vermont Community Garden Network: Gardens for Learning

2016 Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants

Vermont Community Garden Network: Gardens for Learning - Initial Grant Award: $8,200 (actual check: $11,448.11)

The Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) is a nonprofit organization that supports and connects the state’s 370+ community and school gardens. They help people of all ages and backgrounds grow their own fresh, healthy food by providing hands-on garden education, and technical assistance, resources, and connections for all types of garden groups. VCGN’s Gardens for Learning is a statewide program that teaches children at risk of summertime hunger how to grow, cook and share nutritious fresh foods. VCGN provides funding, training, technical assistance, resources, materials, and an evaluation framework to the site leaders, who manage the program at each site. 

2017 Update:

Through the Gardens For Learning program, the Vermont Community Garden Network continues to expand its support for groups that educate youth by teaching gardening practices, strengthening awareness of local food systems, and empowering people to grow, prepare, eat, and preserve their own food. 

Gardens for Learning is a grant and technical assistance program that provides a unique opportunity for participating communities to support summer gardening, nutrition, and cooking programs for children at risk of summertime hunger.  By learning how to grow their own food in an engaging and supportive environment and using that food to make healthy snacks, children are not only changing their own habits, but increasing their families’ overall food security.

Programs run at affordable housing sites, schools, community health centers, and summer camps.  Some locations almost exclusively engage in gardening and cooking activities, while others are part of a larger program offering a host of other summertime activities. Each site is responsible for planning its own program and tailoring hands-on activities to suit the needs of their preschool to middle-school aged youth participants, within the framework of the Gardens For Learning educational goals.

The City Market Seedling Grant allowed us to expand from 9 to 13 program sites this year.  The Gardens For Learning grant program provides funding for gardening and cooking supplies, food and equipment, as well as coordinator stipends.  The 13 sites funded in 2017 are:

  • Alburgh Community Education Center, Alburgh
  • Bakersfield Elementary/Middle School, Bakersfield
  •  Enosburgh Public Library, Enosburgh Falls
  •  Family Room, Burlington
  • Green Acres Apartments, Barre
  •  Highgate Apartments, Barre
  • Highgate Public Library, Highgate
  • Little Lambs Early Learning Center, Rutland
  • Lunenburg/Gilman Schools, Gilman
  • Richford Health Center, Richford
  • St Johnsbury School, St Johnsbury
  • Upper Valley Haven, White River Junction
  • Williamstown Elementary School, Williamstown

This year’s applicant pool included a large number of child care sites, reflecting an increasing demand for resources and support for early childhood food and garden programing. Thanks to the additional funding from a City Market Seedling Grant, we were also able to offer a new Mini-Grant for Child Care Centers. Five child care centers participated in a professional development workshop on Garden-Based Activities for Child Care Centers and received a stipend to purchase gardening and cooking supplies.