November 22, 2010— Closer to Earth, (CTE) a unique non-profit engaging at risk youth in organic gardening, has won a $5,000 garden grant from Gardener’s Supply Company and Green Education Foundation (GEF). The grant called on youth gardening programs from across the country to submit entries that demonstrated the impact of their gardens on the community.
CTE intercepts at risk youth before they become deeply involved in gang activity, crime or the criminal justice system. The youth are learning valuable life skills through organic vegetable production and the emergency and market food distribution systems. Director of the CTE Youth Gardening program Rachel Kastner says “Gardening with our specific demographic of youth is about more than just educating them in gardening, health and the environment. It’s about empowering them to face the challenges they face so young in their lives, and gardening naturally does this. I have witnessed time and time again the healing and empowerment working the ground brings to people. The Green Education Foundation and Gardener’s Supply Grant is crucial support for our programs expansion, so that we can reach more inner-city youth. I would like to sincerely thank them for investing in the lives of youth in Oklahoma City.”
CTE youth gardens started in 2007 working with youth to take actions to stop climate change through organic gardening and landscaping, recycling, composting and assisting zero waste events by composting the waste stream. Closer to Earth works at two garden sites: Community Youth Outreach Urban Farm in a food desert region of NE Oklahoma City and Central Park Community Gardens located in inner-city NW Oklahoma City. The urban farms include a greenhouse, worm beds, compost piles, and a quarter acre garden. The youth who work in the gardens are encouraged to take home freshly harvested food for their families. Food not taken home is split, half given to local food pantries and half sold to local restaurants.
GEF, a sustainability education non-profit, launched the Green Thumb Challenge in late 2009. The largest youth gardening initiative in history, the Green Thumb Challenge mobilized a nation to plant 5,000 youth gardens in 2009. Standards-based lessons, activities and one-stop gardening resources are all provided on the website, www.GreenThumbChallenge.org.
About Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Green Education Foundation (GEF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides environmental education resources for Pre K-12 classrooms and youth groups nationwide. GEF believes that what is healthy for the environment is healthy for kids, and promotes learning opportunities that develop sustainable habits of environmental stewardship in children and their communities. Visit www.GreenEducationFoundation.org.
About Gardener’s Supply.
Founded in 1983, Gardener's Supply (gardeners.com) is an employee-owned company that serves gardeners nationwide. Gardener’s Supply is known for providing innovative garden-tested, earth-friendly products combined with practical information. Located in Burlington, Vermont, the company has won many awards for its patented products and progressive management style. Gardener’s Supply actively promotes gardening as a way for people to make a difference in their own backyards, in their communities, and in the world at large.