The State Botanical Garden of Georgia was among 28 public gardens in the U.S. to receive funding from the U.S. Botanic Garden and the American Public Garden Association to help support its urban agriculture and community food-growing programs.
The $15,000 award will help the garden continue to produce fruits and vegetables for food-insecure Athens-area residents and will help fund an online summer camp that teaches middle school students about food and nutrition.
“Awards like this allow us to continue to offer our services and programming and resources to the public,” said Cora Keber, director of education at the State Botanical Garden. “While we’re not directly serving people currently with our regular experiential learning programming, we’re still providing needed produce to the community.”
Garden staffers have continued to grow and harvest produce from the Dig and Grow section of the Alice H. Richards Children’s Garden, which has been closed since March because of COVID-19. The produce, usually part of educational programming for children, now is donated to Campus Kitchen, a program within the UGA Office of Service-Learning (OSL) that collects food and prepares meals for senior adults, most of them grandparents raising grandchildren.
A portion of the awarded funding will also help Grow It Know It, another program within OSL, continue and expand its online summer program for middle school students. That program, typically held during the summer months at Clarke Middle School, focuses on agriculture and family and consumer science activities, with topics that include crop science, composting, food science and cooking. Grow It Know It provides materials for campers to engage in the activities at home with lessons online. Both OSL and the State Botanical Garden are UGA Public Service and Outreach units.
“Especially now, during this unprecedented health and economic crisis, communities need access to healthy, fresh foods” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “We are proud to be able to support our fellow public gardens in their vital work of helping local communities grow and gain access to more fruits and vegetables and achieve better nutrition.”
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia is one of 28 public gardens across the United States awarded a total of $378,000 through the Urban Agriculture Resiliency Program, which aims to promote resilience, grow capacity, prevent shortfalls and gather best practices from established programs across the U.S. public gardens community.
Beyond providing immediate support, the Urban Agriculture Resilience Program will provide insight into successful approaches and future opportunities for public gardens—though varying program models—to improve food access and advance food and agriculture education in urban communities, particularly during times of crisis.
“We appreciate the fantastic work public gardens across America are doing every day to support communities to provide horticultural knowledge and food security, especially during this very challenging time,” said Casey Sclar, executive director of the American Public Gardens Association.
Aaron Cox PSO Public Relations Coordinator
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Cora Keber State Botanical Garden Director of Education