Now that the garden is growing and you are harvesting regularly, it is important to think about ways to sustain these efforts. One major responsibility of the garden committee is to find funding opportunities and secure resources to keep the garden thriving.
It is important to get buy-in for support and participation from community members and organizations. Gardens can bring together many community entities and provide opportunities for involvement to anyone who has an interest. The garden committee should consider these questions when preparing to reach out to the community:
- Which organizations in the community are potential partners?
- Do other gardens or gardening organizations exist within your community?
- Which organizations and community members share a passion for gardening?
Asking for monetary and in-kind donations might seem challenging, but it is a simple and necessary task to keep the garden growing. Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and ask for support. Finding help in the form of volunteers and financial support reduces the challenges of high out-of-pocket costs for committee members, and many businesses and organizations are willing to help! Developing relationships with organizations and members of the community will encourage the support of the garden and this chapter will focus on how to secure donations. There are three main types of donations, which are below, that will help sustain your garden and each will require different approaches.
Resources or In-Kind Donations
When seeking volunteers to provide their time to help with the garden, success will come from searching for people who are knowledgeable and passionate about gardening. There are a number of ways to recruit volunteers, such as posting a notice in a newsletter or to a social media site. If you are having a garden work day and would like to recruit a large group of volunteers, consider submitting a press release. This is a great way to let the community know a work day has been scheduled and volunteers are needed. Below is a sample press release letter which is one method to help recruit volunteers for an event.
SAMPLE MEDIA ADVISORY
CONTACT: Jane Smith
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 28, 2010
WHAT: Townville Elementary School Garden Harvest Event
WHEN: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 – 2:00 p.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Corner of Main and Oak Streets, Townville, S.C.
WHO: Everyone is invited!!
Public invited to the School Garden Harvest Event
TOWNVILLE, S.C. – Principal John Doe and the City Council invite everyone to attend the Harvest Dinner of the Townville Elementary School Garden at the corner of Main and Oak Streets in Townville, S.C. Hugh Weathers, Commissioner of Agriculture, will be on hand to greet everyone at 2:00 p.m.
Children and teachers from Townville Elementary have been nurturing and growing fresh tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn and a variety of other fresh vegetables all spring and now they want to share the fruits of their labor with the community!
What better way to celebrate summer than with a meal from the fresh produce grown in the school garden and fresh flowers grown by the students and teachers at Townville Elementary. Parking will be available in the school parking lot out front.
To participate in this wonderful event or for more information about the Townville Elementary School Garden Harvest, call Jane Smith, garden coordinator, at (803) 123-4567.
In addition to the press release, there are other options to consider when recruiting and securing volunteers.
• Recruit volunteers through horticulture clubs, local businesses, Clemson Extension, Boy/Girl Scouts, YMCA, Master Gardeners, 4-H, FFA Chapters, volunteer fire departments and other service organizations.
• Find organizations within your community that require members to complete service hours.
• Reach out to parents to volunteer through newsletters, PTO/PTA meetings, open houses and social media.
• Market this volunteer opportunity as a hands-on, exciting and rewarding experience.
• Contact your volunteers often, whether this is through e-mails, newsletters or web site postings.
WORKING WITH VOLUNTEERS
• Schedule a time to meet with the volunteers to tour the garden and discuss how they will be helping in the garden.
• Establish clear roles and responsibilities for volunteers to provide them with a greater sense of ownership and regularly provide feedback about their performance.
• Invite volunteers to committee meetings so they can share prior experiences.
• Show appreciation by thanking volunteers for all of their hard work. Send personalized thank you notes from the garden committee or
When seeking donations from local community organizations and businesses target those with services that match your needs; be specific, transparent and professional with your requests. Carefully create a donation letter unique to each organization and business. Develop a reasonable “wish list” as a garden committee to include with the letter. Dropping it off in person with a store manager/owner will help make a personal connection, increasing the likelihood he or she will want to donate to the garden. If donations are received, acknowledge and thank donors by sending them a thank you letter. Donors can also be recognized on garden signs, websites, social media or any other events related to the garden.
SAMPLE DONATION REQUEST LETTER #1
Name of Business Address of Business City, State Zip Code
Dear [potential funder],
The [enter appropriate grade(s)] grade children at [insert preschool/school name] have planned a preschool/school vegetable garden that will include a birdhouse and journaling benches. They are hoping to plant the garden in the spring and they are asking for your help.
Please consider donating some of the tools we will need for this new garden. We need hand trowels, rakes and hoes for our [insert #] children. Whatever you are able to
provide us would help out. Our children would love to use wheelbarrows and wear garden gloves!
We will have a groundbreaking ceremony this spring in the garden in front of the school. You and your staff are invited to help break ground for the first plants that will be grown. We will provide more details closer to the date, but we hope you will be able to join us!
Thank you very much for your help.
[Insert your preschool/school name] and the children of [insert preschool/school name]
[Insert Preschool/School Contact Information]
Students can even sign their names at the bottom to personalize the letter even more.
SAMPLE DONATION REQUEST LETTER #2
Name of Business Address of Business City, State Zip Code
Dear [Potential funder name],
[Your preschool/school name] is interested in beginning a garden for our classrooms. With limited funds in our budget for special projects, we are unable to cover the cost of this activity. We are therefore requesting that community partners join us in implementing this worthwhile program for our children.
Gardens are a special kind of learning center for children. A garden:
Encourages fruit and vegetable consumption.
Promotes physical activity.
Provides an opportunity for children/students to connect with nature.
Helps students better understand the origin of food.
The gardening project proposed for [Your preschool/school name] will begin with lessons about how plants grow. Each child will participate in the planting, harvesting and maintenance of the garden. Children will be able to care for and watch the progress of their growing plants as they connect to where their food comes from.
This request is being submitted to [Potential funder name] to fund the materials and supplies needed for the proposed plan is to plant the garden in [Month]. If funding is approved, please resubmit to:
[Your preschool/school name]
[Garden Committee Contact]
Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. If you have any questions or would like more detailed information about this project, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely, [your name here]
- Harvest produce or small bunches of flowers from the garden to sell at a regularly occurring market
- Sell seedlings at an annual plant/flower sale event
- Create a recipe book based on the produce grown
- Sell handmade items such as garden art
Grants are a monetary award to help fund projects which can help sustain the garden. Grants are awarded from all levels of government, private foundations and corporations. The grant process requires submitting an application that should be thoroughly developed and reviewed. Follow the instructions for the grant you are applying for and provide a persuasive argument for why the garden is worth funding. The funding cycles vary across grant opportunities; be aware of the submission requirements and deadlines when applying.
This list of grants provides a snapshot of organizations that typically fund gardens.