2010 challenge winnersCloser to Earth has big plans for the upcoming season! They received a substantial grant from the United Methodist Church and Rachel was able to hire 20 youth to work in the garden. The young adults who have been training all year will get to exercise their leadership skills by teaching the newcomers. The group will continue donating to food pantries and marketing food to the surrounding community and restaurants. They also have some service projects on their agenda, including traveling to food pantries and volunteering there. Additionally, the group plans to experiment with starting a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Closer to Earth Garden from Oklahoma City, OK, was the winner of our 2010 $5,000 grant! GEF recently followed up with garden co-coordinator Rachel Kastner to see how their season is going.
When Closer to Earth received the GEF grant last year, the youth gardeners were thrilled and excited. They had all contributed ideas to the grant writing process, so each young gardener felt invested in the submission. Knowing that GEF wanted to support their program gave them a boost of confidence.
After the Closer to Earth gardeners received the grant, they were largely in agreement on how it should be spent. A large hail storm earlier in the year had damaged the greenhouse and it was in desperate need of repair. The grant helped Closer to Earth make those crucial repairs in the late fall, and as a result the gardeners were able to grow greens like salad mixes and kale all winter long. They sold half the produce to restaurants and donated the other half to a local food pantry that serves AIDS patients.
When asked whether she felt confident about Closer to Earth’s chances of winning the grant, Rachel responded that Closer to Earth meets a unique need, which makes it stand out. She pointed out that youth gardening is taking off all over the country, but Closer to Earth is in a predominantly minority area and works with at-risk youth, which sets them apart from many of the other youth gardens.
Congratulations again, Closer to Earth!