Community Investment Fund Spotlight: Introducing Kids to Urban Gardening

Posted March 6, 2016, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog introducing kids to urban gardening 2016

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site sup­ports a res­i­dent-led Com­mu­ni­ty Invest­ment Fund that award­ed 15 small grants in 2015. This blog post series high­lights how recip­i­ents used their grant to improve the lives of chil­dren and fam­i­lies in Atlanta’s Neigh­bor­hood Plan­ning Unit V (NPU‑V). 

In this post, Cashawn Myers, exec­u­tive direc­tor of HABE­SHA, Inc., shares how his orga­ni­za­tion used a $5,000 grant from the Com­mu­ni­ty Invest­ment Fund to intro­duce youth in Atlanta’s Mechan­icsville neigh­bor­hood to urban gardening.

Pro­gram basics: HABE­SHA Inc. runs an after-school pro­gram called Sus­tain­able Seeds, where kids main­tain an urban organ­ic gar­den to learn about sci­ence, math­e­mat­ics, nutri­tion and envi­ron­men­tal sustainability.

Our pro­gram expos­es these stu­dents to new types of foods — like kale, squash, gar­lic and can­taloupe — and teach­es them how to pre­pare these foods in a healthy way at home. Stu­dents also learn about the health ben­e­fits of many plants found in the gar­den and their role as envi­ron­men­tal stewards. 

The pro­gram, which we launched in 2004, serves 32 stu­dents ages 5 to 12 and oper­ates out of the Dun­bar Learn­ing Com­plex. Ses­sions run for two hours in the after­noon every Mon­day and Wednesday.

Invest­ment details: Sus­tain­able Seeds used our 2015 Com­mu­ni­ty Invest­ment Fund grant to stock up on food-prepa­ra­tion sup­plies, gar­den­ing tools, snacks, soil, seeds and seedlings. We also took our stu­dents on a field trip to the Atlanta Botan­i­cal Garden. 

Evi­dence of suc­cess: Our stu­dents are con­nect­ing with nature, learn­ing in a nur­tur­ing envi­ron­ment and eat­ing some good healthy food!

At the school year’s halfway mark, most of our stu­dents were able to dis­tin­guish between healthy and unhealthy foods as well as artic­u­late the impor­tance of prop­er eat­ing habits. They are also using the sci­en­tif­ic method to apply obser­va­tion skills and hypothe­ses to exper­i­ments per­formed in the garden.

The Com­mu­ni­ty Invest­ment Fund at a Glance

What: A Casey-fund­ed pro­gram that awards a total $50,000 in small grants rang­ing from $500 to $5,000.

Who and Where: A res­i­dent board over­sees the fund, which is open to com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions and net­works in Atlanta’s NPU‑V.

Why: To pro­mote com­mu­ni­ty-dri­ven change by empow­er­ing res­i­dents to tack­le com­mon neigh­bor­hood challenges.

When: Appli­ca­tions for the 2016 Com­mu­ni­ty Invest­ment Fund cycle are due March 182016.

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