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Winners of the 2012 Green Thumb Challenge $5000 Grant! 

Location: Brewster, New York
Ages of the children working in the garden: 5-21
This garden was established  in 1947.

How Green Chimneys Will Use the $5000 Grant Award 

The funds will be used for several needed maintenance projects in the children's garden that will allow the school to continue offering high quality gardening programs in a safe environment. The maintenance will also protect the garden and garden structures from further deterioration, weathering and destruction by animals. 

About Green Chimneys School, in their own words: 

GreenChimneysGarden7 Green Chimneys, located on a farm in Brewster, New York, is a therapeutic day school for more than 200 special needs children from the Greater New York Metropolitan area. Since the founding of Green Chimneys in 1947, the gardening program has played an important part in the lives of the students. Many of our special needs students experience emotional disturbance and mental illness, which is a disengaging process where people become increasingly isolated from reality and from the world of relationships. At Green Chimneys School, our goal is to work with each child to learn to cope with their disabilities and deal with their deficits. We must teach our students to reconnect, to relearn basic social skills, and to rebuild the self-esteem that will allow progress towards a high functioning life. Our gardening program is an effective teaching tool because students see first-hand that their contribution makes a difference. They learn that their hard work produces results, not only the creation of produce for the rest of the school to eat at the dining hall, but also the recognition they receive for their change in behavior and improvement of their social skills.

GreenChimneysGarden6 Our gardening program is integrated into our curriculum and is provided to every student as part of the regularly scheduled school day. In addition to the integration of the gardens into our science, math and language arts classes, formal gardening classes are taught year-round by a certified horticultural therapist. During the spring, summer and fall months, classes are held in one of our organic gardens, where planting maintenance and harvesting of the crops are taught. In the winter, students learn about the scientific side of horticulture, such as plant anatomy and seed propagation in our greenhouse. Last year, students raised over 7,500 pounds of produce that was used in our dining hall, the life skill and nutrition classes, our farm stand, as well as our Green Cuisine Culinary Arts Program.

At Green Chimneys, we take our gardens seriously. We nurture and care for plants so that our students become nurturers and gain new skills to overcome years of difficult situations. The agricultural component of the community is pivotal in the strengthening process because a farm becomes a constant celebration of good work and healthy relationships. Our gardening program helps our students by offering opportunities to build greater self-esteem and to make a positive contribution to the community.