While some might caution, "you can have too much of a good thing," the Kansas Health Foundation is choosing to infuse nearly $50,000 additional dollars to fund a bumper crop of exceptional Kansas Community Garden Grant applications.
With 2013 the second year of a three-year $100,000 per year grant effort to encourage developing community gardens and teaching gardening skills, the Foundation is awarding $147,004 to fund 35 grants, said Evelyn Neier, a horticulturist and K-State Research and Extension 4-H youth gardening specialist serving as the state coordinator for the community garden grants.
An increased interest in gardening
In 2012, the first year the grants were offered, 24 gardens were funded, said Neier, who noted that the 2013 selection committee is "delighted with the increased interest, and pleased to expand funding to develop gardens in cities and towns with varying populations in many areas of the state."
According to Neier, Kansas communities and community groups are invited to submit grant applications for up to $5,000 toward the start-up costs for community garden site preparation; installation of water wells and irrigation lines; tools; storage sheds and other miscellaneous expenses in establishing a community garden.
With physical activity known to promote health, and gardening considered a potential lifetime interest, Neier said the goal for the grant effort is to provide – and encourage – educational opportunities for citizens of all ages to grow their knowledge about gardening by learning how to prepare the soil, plant seeds, tend plants, weed, water, harvest, and add fresh, health-promoting fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks.
The process also is expected to build community, she said.
Rick Miller, grant coordinator for the Community Garden at the Center of Grace in Olathe, Kan., explained: "Kansas Health Foundation funding will allow us to expand the garden, and teach a greater number of people about gardening."