If we have brought you a bounty of nature-related grants lately, there is good reason for it. As it turns out, what is good for the environment is good for us as well. In addition to improved physical and mental health for individuals, green space is critical to urban areas. The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company agree. They have partnered with each other to grow one thousand community gardens and green spaces by 2018 with their GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Grant Program.
The GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Grant Program
GRO1000 will provide $40,000 in cash and product to winning recipients to either help establish new gardens or make additions to existing green spaces. The projects should not only enhance their surroundings but engage local residents as well, especially young people. There are four focus areas:
- Outdoor play
- Urban Revitalization
- Nature gardens – including plants and habitat that will attract pollinators
- Supplementing food deserts with fresh produce
Selected Past Recipients
- On duty firefighters in Atlanta, GA, sit down to meals that include fresh veggies from the city’s ten successful firehouse gardens. The gardens also serve as demonstration plots to help local residents nurture their own green thumbs.
- Monarchs flutter across the St. Louis Riverfront Butterfly Byway as the GRO1000 Grant helped the city create monarch habitat for these beloved creatures who are at risk of being added to the endangered species list.
- A fruit tree grove may soon become an enchanted forest or secret fort for the children around General Street Park in Providence, RI. In a demographically underserved area, the addition of fruit trees is meant not only to encourage imaginative play, but provide healthier food options and environmental education to local youth.
- Unique desert beauty is featured in McKellips and Ellsworth Park Botanicals Walkway in Mesa, AZ. Both locals and visitors will learn more about native desert landscapes.
- The Karamu Garden in Minneapolis, MN, is not only beautiful, but in conjunction with Project Sweetie Pie, it provides food for residents and educational efforts around environmental justice concerns.
- Planting and play is intertwined in Houston, TX. The Gabriela Mistral Center for Early Childhood added raised beds, container gardens, fruit trees, rain water barrels, an outdoor classroom, fort, pond, embankment slide, music area, sand pit and playhouse.
- Kids of all ages get to dig in the dirt in the Florida city of Miramar. It expanded its community garden to include an Intergenerational Fruit and Vegetable program. A fruit grove, a culinary herb garden, a seedling nursery, an outdoor classroom and agricultural workshops help seniors and youth grow their appreciation of Mother Nature together.
The Environmental Benefits of Green Space
In previous posts, we have pointed out how natural environments can contribute to improved emotional well being, why school gardens foster healthy eating, and how parks can serve as catalysts for economic development. Here we will concentrate specifically on the environmental benefits of green space:
- Reduced energy consumption – Shade from trees and other vegetation helps reduce the demand for air conditioning and offsets heat islands.
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions – A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and sequester one ton of CO2 by age 40.
- Stormwater management – Plants can reduce runoff and absorb rainwater.
- Better water quality – Vegetation can act as a filter for rainwater.
- Pavement protection – Slower deterioration of pavement and other infrastructure means less maintenance costs.
- Noise reduction.
Applying for Scotts Miracle-Gro Company: GRO 1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Grant Program
Eligible Applicants are local government and consortia. Projects may be implemented in partnership with community garden and other relevant groups. Matching is not required. The application page contains instructions, contact information and a complete list of previous winners. Apply by November 15, 2016.
Want to encourage future farmers, back yard gardeners and urban horticulturalists? Click below for resources for establishing and maintaining school gardens.