Gateway Greening Receives $205,000 Grant From The Monsanto Fund To Support Youth Gardens Throughout St. Louis

The Kids Garden Fresh Program helps urban gardening grow

ST. LOUIS – Gateway Greening, a St. Louis non-profit organization promoting urban gardening, has received a $205,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund to continue to support youth garden programs throughout St. Louis over the next two years. The Kids Garden Fresh program, a partnership between Gateway Greening and the Monsanto Fund, was founded in 2011 with a grant from the Monsanto Fund, and provides students with the opportunity to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, while learning lessons in math, science and agronomy.

“We are grateful for the generous gift that the Monsanto Fund has provided to enable us to continue our mission of strengthening communities through gardening and urban agriculture with programs like Kids Garden Fresh,” said Mike Sorth, executive director of Gateway Greening. “Youth gardens allow children to learn hands on about fresh, healthy food, which leads to lifelong positive eating habits. At the same time, the gardens contribute to the vitality of their schools and communities.”

The Kids Garden Fresh Program has awarded a total of 18 new gardens and 13 expansion gardens over the past two years. Last month the 2013 awards were announced and 6 youth programs will be building new gardens and another 4 will expand their existing ones.

In addition to new and expanded gardens, the Kids Garden Fresh Program is introducing a new intensive education program. The focus of this new program is to develop quality over quantity. A garden educator will spend a full day either weekly or monthly in a school, covering as many classes as possible. New and specific curriculum is being developed as well as teacher tools and resources. The Kids Garden Fresh Program hopes to inspire teachers and help them understand how to teach from the garden, benefitting both students and community involvement. Schools that will be visited weekly include Clay Elementary, Lyon at Blow, and Barack Obama Elementary. Schools that will be visited on a monthly basis include Mallinckrodt, Patrick Henry Elementary, and Dragon’s Grove (St. Margaret of Scotland).

“We are excited about the addition of the intensive programming component because we'll be able to provide direct services to each school, work with the students one on one, and put extra effort into strengthening each program to stand on its own and be an example to other youth gardens around St. Louis,” said Betsy Gugala, Youth Programs Educator at Gateway Greening.

With the introduction of Kids Garden Fresh, recipients have experienced first-hand the benefit of knowing where their food originates from as well as how to apply that learning to not only the classroom, but in the workplace. South Tech High School is a first year award recipient with the development of the South Tech Youth Garden which began from the combined efforts of two educators with a love for gardening and the cooperative support of the school’s principal, Dr. Dave Baker. This initiative is unique in that it provides hands-on learning experiences for both preschool students and high school students who work in the preschool and the culinary arts program they attend at South Technical High School. The goal of this project is to provide a hands-on learning experience to both high school students and preschoolers as they learn about growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers as well as teaching them about composting, sustainability and all the other facets involved in growing and maintaining a garden.

“The Monsanto Fund is pleased to support gardens like these because the Kids Garden Fresh program is planting more than seeds to harvest,” said Deborah Patterson, the Monsanto Fund president. “It is sowing lessons deep into the lives of these young gardeners that will serve them a lifetime.”

Other gardens receiving 2013 awards include, Forder Elementary (Mehlville School District), Girls Inc., Al-Salam Day School, Busch Middle School Of Character (St. Louis Public Schools) and Peabody School (St. Louis Public Schools). Expanded gardens include Lift For Life Gym, Second Presbyterian Church supporting Washington Montessori School (St. Louis Public Schools), and Mallinckrodt Academy For Gifted Instruction (St. Louis Public Schools).

Each program allows students to tend to the garden, raise its produce and learn the principles of production agriculture. Those receiving a Youth Garden Award are selected based on a number of factors including: need, the quality of the garden space, the level of community and staff support, and the thoroughness of the plan for using the garden space. Awarded sites are typically supported with seeds/plants, garden tools, materials (hardscape and landscape), curricular resources and trainings. As a part of Kids Garden Fresh and Gateway Greening’s Youth Programs, youth teachers and parents will also have access to Saturday workshops, yearly site visits, curricula advice, technical gardening advice, free seeds and seedlings and professional development workshops.

The Kids Garden Fresh program has only one application period annually from February 1 – June 1. Visit http://www.monsantofund.org/grants/kids-garden-fresh/ to learn more.