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Funding a School Garden

Funding your school garden can become the biggest obstacle to overcome. But don't fear—help is available and in many forms!

The first step to acquiring money is to formulate a budget. When developing your budget you will need to consider many things. Gather estimates for costs for such things as soil, plants, fertilizers, garden tools, educational supplements, and miscellaneous items.

Once you have composed your budget, it's time to locate money. Funding can come from many places, the first being your school. Ask your school if they have a budget for a garden project. The school may be more likely to fund your garden project if the garden is shown to be an educational tool and classroom asset.

The next place to look is to your parent/teacher organizations. These organizations may have funds to offer, or they may be willing to help host a fundraiser to help bring in funds for your garden.

Another place to look is your local community businesses. These businesses can be, but should not be limited to, garden centers. Garden and landscaping centers may be willing to donate plants and soil as well as offer expert advice. Other community businesses may also be willing to sponsor your garden project.

Garden clubs can be another source of support. Garden clubs may not only offer monetary support but volunteer assistance, which comes with added garden skills and informational knowledge.

Also check with local service organizations to see if they can help provide funds for your garden project.

Consider your county extension office. The county extension office may be able to help you not only with funding, but also with expert advice from local agents and Master Gardener volunteers. The county extension office is also an excellent place to find information on starting a garden in your area.

Funds are also available on a national level. The National Gardening Association offers Youth Garden Grants to schools developing school gardens. Many franchise organizations may also be willing to offer support to your garden project. Additionally, if your garden will have environmentally positive implications, you may be able to apply for grants from organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture.

One other avenue to consider is an actual fundraising effort. Many schools have raised money for their garden projects through a variety of fundraisers. Some schools have sold plants and vegetables raised in their garden, while others have made vinegars and other crafts from the fruits of their gardens.

Still other schools have found it hard to break even with these types of efforts and have turned to more traditional efforts such as chocolate or cookie sales. Whatever you decide to sell, be sure that you will make money from the effort and not just break even.

The key to finding funding is not to be shy. Asking for money and donations is not always a fun prospect, but unless you want to pay for the garden out of your own pocket, you will have to find support elsewhere. Many businesses and organizations are willing to help local schools and students in worthwhile endeavors. Well laid-out projects with goals, objects, and budgets will help organizations recognize worthwhile causes.

There are many resources available to help you fund your garden.

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School Gardens
University of Florida
P.O. Box 110675
Gainesville, FL 32611-0675