Gardens For Learning

What is the Gardens for Learning Grant Program?


Children gather around an outdoor cooking station to peel and slice zucchini for a lunch snack, Richford Health Center, 2016

Gardens for Learning is a grant and technical assistance program that provides a unique opportunity for participating communities to support summer gardening, nutrition, and cooking programs for children at risk of summertime hunger.  By learning how to grow their own food in an engaging and supportive environment and using that food to make healthy snacks, children are not only changing their own habits, but increasing their families’ overall food security.

The Gardens for Learning grant program provides funding for gardening and cooking supplies, food and equipment, as well as coordinator stipends.  Programs at affordable housing sites, schools, community health centers, and summer camps.  Some locations almost exclusively engage in gardening and cooking activities, while others are part of a larger program offering a host of other summertime activities. Each site is responsible for planning its own program and tailoring hands-on activities to suit the needs of their preschool to middle-school aged youth participants, within the framework of the Gardens For Learning educational goals.

My son never ate green beans, but when he brings a bag home that he picked from the gardens, he can’t wait for us to both sit down together to eat them.”     – Mother of a youth participant from Green Acres Apartments, 2016

2017 Gardens for Learning Program Sites

We are pleased to complete the fourth year of the Gardens for Learning grant program coordinated by the Vermont Community Garden Network. We are honored to continue the legacy of this important program created in 1994 by Food Works at Two Rivers Center.  By adopting the Gardens For Learning program we continue to expand our support for groups that educate youth by teaching gardening practices, strengthening awareness of local food systems, and empowering people to grow, prepare, eat, and preserve their own food. We are grateful for long-time program funders, the O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation, and new support from City Market.

13 program sites received a full grant award:

  • Alburgh Community Education Center, Alburgh
  • Bakersfield Elementary/Middle School, Bakersfield
  • Enosburgh Public Library, Enosburgh Falls
  • Family Room, Burlington
  • Green Acres Apartments, Barre
  • Highgate Apartments, Barre
  • Highgate Public Library, Highgate
  • Little Lambs Early Learning Center, Rutland
  • Lunenburg/Gilman Schools, Gilman
  • Richford Health Center, Richford
  • St Johnsbury School, St Johnsbury
  • Upper Valley Haven, White River Junction
  • Williamstown Elementary School, Williamstown

This year’s applicant pool included a large number of child care sites, reflecting an increasing demand for resources and support for early childhood food and garden programing. Thanks to the additional funding from City Market, we were able to establishing a new “Mini-Grant for Child Care Centers.” Five child care centers participated in a professional development workshop on Garden-Based Activities for Child Care Centers  and received a stipend to purchase gardening and cooking supplies.

We invite you to read our 2017 Gardens for Learning Final Program Report to learn more about the grant program and the impact it has had on communities across Vermont.



Funding and Applications for 2018 

The Gardens for Learning grant program will only provide funding for returning sites in 2018.  Only the 13 sites that were funded in 2017 will be invited to submit an application for receiving a 2018 Garden for Learning grant.  (If you are the Site Coordinator for one of those 13 sites and have not heard from us by February 1, please be sure to email to receive updated information.)

VCGN is committed to continuing to expand the Gardens for Learning program.  We look forward to opening up the grant program to a wider audience in 2019.


A Site Coordinator demonstrates how to tie up freshly harvested mint for hanging and drying indoors, Green Acres Apartments, 2015

More information on the Gardens for Learning grant program…

Gardens for Learning grant recipients should include in their summer programs:

  • Regular work in a garden, farm, or greenhouse that includes planting, caring for, and harvesting fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs
  • Preparation of daily snacks or meals using garden harvest and wholesome ingredients
  • Participation in activities/lessons to foster an understanding of healthy eating guidelines

The grant award package includes:

  • A grant award of $1,200 to be used for salary stipends and/or program materials.
  • Participation in and a travel stipend to attend the Spring and Fall Retreats intended for Site Coordinators.
  • Two visits from the Gardens for Learning Statewide Coordinator to provide technical assistance and program assessment. The first visit is scheduled in May to provide technical assistance for program and garden planning.  The second visit is scheduled in July or August, when summer programs are in session.
  • Resources for hands-on gardening, nutrition and cooking activities (recipes, lesson plans, teaching materials) and valuable tips for program planning.
  • A $200 gift card from Gardener’s Supply.
  • A Gardens for Learning Supply Box valued at $100 with child-friendly gardening and cooking equipment.

A thematic “First Aid garden” with medicinal herbs and flowers was planted at the Highgate Public Library, 2016

We are grateful for long-time program funders, the O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation, and new support from City Market.  The support and guidance of Food Works Co-Founder Joseph Kiefer, along with funding from the Charles Gamper Fund and the Canaday Family Charitable Trust, were essential to the successful program transition.  The Gardens For Learning program will continue to evolve within our organization, and we look forward to growing and learning with our garden partners.


Children look for vegetables that are ready to harvest from the summer garden at the Richford Health Center.

Children look for vegetables that are ready to harvest from the summer garden at the Richford Health Center, 2015.