Starting a school garden can be such a game-changer for children’s education, but where does the funding come from? Check out these grants for school gardens to see if your program is eligible.
Gardens have a ton of benefits for schools. Kids learn patience, taking turns, math skills, reading skills, life cycles, botany, entomology, germination, nutrition, colors, shapes, numbers, sensory learning and so much more. I could go on all day.
Benefits of school gardens
Gardens are full of science lessons for kids such as what makes an insect beneficial or not for the garden. How much water do plants need? How do plants make sunlight into food? What will help a plant grow bigger, taller, or produce more? What do different foods taste like? The science of it is obvious.
Gardens are also full of math. How tall can this grow? How long are the roots? How many okras will grow on this plant? Which variety of tomato grows the biggest? You get the point, there is so much sorting, counting, and measuring that can go on.
Besides all of the obvious cognitive benefits of the school garden, there are untold health benefits. The physical activity of planting and caring for a garden is great. Fresh air and sunshine are great for the body and obviously the garden grows healthy food we can eat, but did you also know that the garden is good for mental health?
Studies of garden programs in prisons show a far higher non-reoffending rate among prisoners that were taught how to garden. They get a skill they can carry on with them when they get out, but there are also beneficial things the garden does for the mind.
The beneficial microbes in the soil are now known to reduce anxiety and depression. I know for myself; I was always very depressed before I had my garden and I hardly ever experience symptoms of it now. In addition, my anxiety is far lower when I work in my garden.
There is something that happens in the brain as well when we are responsible for a living thing. Puppy or other pet programs do wonders for nursing home patients, hospital patients, and prisoners, but the garden takes it to another level that’s hard to believe.
School garden funding
If you want to build a preschool garden like the one at Little Sprouts. Where do I get the money? We spent a lot of time and effort going door to door to local businesses asking for their help in building our gardens. We also reached out on Facebook and did crowdfunding to collect money and materials.
Little Sprouts is not a non-profit or a public school, it’s a private preschool, so it was very difficult to find funding for our gardens. Grants for school gardens are mostly for public schools. You can read more about how we raised what we needed to build the preschool garden here.
Grants for school gardens
If you are a public school or a nonprofit, there are even more options for you in getting funding to start a school garden. There are many organizations that offer money to help students of all ages to get started learning to grow at school.
Doing research on how to get funding for the kind of program is a great place to start. First, you’ll need to come up with a budget. Any grant you write will require you have a budget, space, and support for the school garden in place before you request money.
How much space do you have? Do you want to garden in ground or in raised beds or containers? Who will take care of the garden once it’s going? (the kids aren’t going to do it all) Do you want to grow all types of food or certain kinds? Do you need trellis for vines? Do you need fencing to protect the garden from animals or from vandalism from the public? What type of area are you in?
Check out this article on how to get started with a preschool garden to see what your needs might be.
Once you have a basic budget set and you know what you’ll need, map out the garden area on some graph paper and form a committee of people that will volunteer to help maintain the garden and get other workers together when necessary.
Then print out a copy of the grant or grants you’ve chosen to apply for and get started filling them out. They usually are not too complicated. Most garden grants for schools are fairly competitive, so include all of the information requested and use passion in your explanation of what you are doing. Include pictures of the kids if allowed as well.
Funding for school gardens
You can also collect funds from your children’s parents and families through donations or fundraisers where you sell products that you sign up to sell or even make yourself. We raise some money for our preschool garden’s yearly maintenance budget by saving seeds and selling them on Etsy. You can access them here.
School garden grants
Here are many sources for school garden grants. There are obviously always more coming out regularly, so keep googling it and scanning the internet to find grants that you qualify for that can meet your needs. We actually did get a small grant when we started building our expansion that covered the cost of the cedar planks we needed to build the raised beds.
Each year, SeedMoney offers challenge grants to diverse food garden projects through a 30-day crowdfunding challenge running from Nov 15 to Dec 15. Our grants are open to all types of public food garden project (youth gardens, community gardens, food bank gardens, etc.) regardless of their location.
Captain Planet Foundation™ invests in high-quality, solution-based programs that embrace STEM learning and empower youth to become local & global environmental change-makers.
Since 1982, the Youth Garden Grant has supported school and youth educational garden projects that enhance the quality of life for students and their communities.
Since 2008, through Annie’s Grants for Gardens program, Annie’s has donated funds to over 270 schools. This means Annie’s has put more than 80,000 children in direct contact with growing real food.
Do you know of a local school, nature center or youth group in need of funding for a native garden or habitat for hands-on learning? If so, please invite them to apply for a Wild Ones Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Grant Program (SFE).
We know finding the financial resources to plant and maintain a youth garden is one of the biggest obstacles educators and volunteers face, so in addition to providing our own grant programs, here is a list of some additional grant opportunities that support youth garden programs.
Kids who grow veggies, eat veggies, so school gardens can make a big difference. Through our Garden Grant program, schools and non-profit organizations turn outdoor spaces into powerful hands-on learning gardens that connect kids with food, spark their curiosity and support classroom curriculum.
Keep applying and keep trying because this is a project that is worth doing. And grants for school gardens are out there. Growing the garden has changed my life and my program for the better and has helped countless kids learn a ton of new and lifelong skills that they never forget. I still have teenagers stopping me and talking about their good times in the garden and asking me if my kids still get to do it.
Gardening makes a lasting impression on people for life, no matter how young they are.
For more fundraising ideas for daycare, check this out.
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