Project is in Final Year
Application Deadline is Jan. 15, 2014. MANHATTAN - For anyone who has considered starting a community garden in Kansas, this is your chance. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to fund new community gardens, thanks to a project by K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Health Foundation.
"The Kansas Health Foundation is interested in the health and well-being of Kansans. The foundation approached K-State Research and Extension to partner with them in establishing a grant program to help expand the number of community gardens in Kansas" said Evelyn Neier, associate extension specialist in youth development. The two organizations collaborated on a three-year project. 2014 will be the final year. The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2014. Many individuals and groups would like to start a community garden, but don't have the startup funding, Neier said. This is an opportunity for people to do something good in their communities and get some funding to get a project started. Application information and descriptions of the 2012 and 2013 grant recipients are available at www.kansascommunitygardens.org or by contacting Neier at 785-410-3760 or email@example.com. "The first year we had $100,000 and 90 applications," she added. Demand was so great that the KHF increased the amount available in 2013 to $150,000 and that's the amount available in 2014, the final year for this funding." To be considered, a garden has to be publicly accessible. It can be either an allotment garden where the community's citizens rent a spot or a communal garden where the produce is grown and distributed for the good of the community - or a combination of the two. Funds can be used for such resources as sheds, fencing, site preparation, tools, and irrigation systems, including rain barrels as well as more traditional irrigation methods. "We encourage applications from all areas of the state. We're very pleased that we have gardens in urban and suburban areas, as well as rural communities," Neier said, adding that groups in Sublette, Colby, Mulvane, Wichita and Olathe were among the 35 recipients of the 2013 grants. The Inner-City Garden in Wichita, for example, is affiliated with Breakthrough Club, a non-profit organization that provides services for adults with serious mental illness. The goal is to teach members about gardening and how to supplement their food source with healthy choices at an inexpensive cost. The Mulvane Community Garden is located on city property adjacent to the city swimming pool. Twenty-eight plots are available for rent by residents of the Mulvane school district. All 28 plots are rented and there is a waiting list for those that want to rent plots in 2014. Organizers of the Wilson Community Garden coordinated with the Summer Lunch Program, which provides daily hot meals to youth during the summer. They created a "start-up" garden on unused raised beds and planted cantaloupe, honeydew, peppers and tomatoes for the program. Garden participants led educational lessons about science and nutrition for youth twice a week. The Wilson FFA Chapter has taken over management of the garden and teachers have been encouraged to get involved. The wood shop class is interested in building raised beds and students in the National Honor Society plan to pair with elementary students to garden and give produce back to the school. The Lyndon Pride Community Garden, which is a source of fresh vegetables in the community, is located conspicuously just to the side of the road as drivers enter town. In that way, it serves as a visual reminder of progress and volunteerism, Neier said. Special consideration for the grants is given to groups that are far from sources of fresh fruits and vegetables - what are often referred to as food deserts, she said. "It helps if the group is well organized going into the (grant application) process," she said. Thought should be given to such considerations as rules and fees for the garden before the group applies and applicants should keep in mind that these are startup grants. Those who are applying should indicate how they will sustain the garden when this initial funding is gone. "Oftentimes these gardens are on city property, such as a park or an empty lot, and sometimes they're on church property. It can be a good way to put underutilized community property to productive use," Neier said.