Urban Agriculture Grant Winners Announced at 2016 Raleigh Environmental Awards Program

The Foundation will promote the work of each of these organizations as examples of innovative local projects in our community to teach and inspire others to get involved in the community garden and urban agriculture movement. Each grant recipient presented a proposal for a project to be completed this year.

The Alliance Medical Ministry’s Community Garden

will continue their work teaching the 4,000 uninsured patients they serve that their health is directly related to how they live their lives. Promoting healthy eating through fresh fruits and vegetables grown by patients themselves, promoting exercise by patients tending the garden, and creating community and cooperation among the patient gardeners for positive mental health produced incredible results.

Last year the garden harvested over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce which was distributed to patients with healthy recipes. During 2015, Alliance patients involved in the wellness program experienced 43% fewer emergency room visits, 30% fewer missed days of work, and 97% felt a marked improvement in their health with lower blood sugar levels, weight loss, peer support, and increased confidence.

Wake County’s Advocates for Health in Action and NC State University’s Grounds Service and Horticultural Department have teamed up for an innovative project called “Edible Plantings on the Greenway.” NCSU Horticultural Science Professor Anne Spafford and her student will identify optimal locations for Edible Plantings – fruit trees and berries – along the university’s greenway system on their main and Centennial campuses. The university’s facilities department and grounds crew, with the students, will do the planting and maintenance of the edible plantings.

The Liberty Community Garden, located at Cedar Point Apartments in north Raleigh where a large number of residents are recently resettled refugees from countries such as Bhutan, Burma and the Congo, now has more than 50 raised wooden garden beds for vegetables. The garden’s members and volunteer’s hard work earned them the “Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Community Appearance” and the “Certified Wildlife Habitat” designation by the National Wildlife Federation.

Longview school, near downtown Raleigh, develops leaders through the FFA (Future Farmers of America) teaching urban gardening skills with individualized tasks and goals set for each student. The Longview Garden is a model to its surrounding community, demonstrating many forms of agriculture which neighbors are implementing at their own homes.

The Food Ark is a youth-lead-and-run certified nonprofit with the mission to relieve food insecurities and improve local food systems in Raleigh and currently chartered in at Enloe and Broughton high schools. The Food Ark cultivates youth leadership at school gardens to create healthy and sustainable food sources for students and the communities surrounding these schools. Lessons learned in the gardens are integrated into biology labs, cooking classes and create innovation with novel irrigation and composting systems using left-overs from the school’s pantry.

Child Care Network #61 will create a Storytelling Stepping Stones project – creating garden pathways for the pre-school children to discover and explore their garden. Mirroring the indoor classroom, the children in the garden will need to make decisions on which path to take, using STEM and Common Core concepts – learning cause and effect reasoning and the concept of equality as it applies to problem solving. By using these tools, the Child Care #61 teachers incorporate literacy, music, physical fitness and dramatic play.

Country Day Montessori School Gardens will use this year’s mini grant to expand the 3 raised garden plots grown last year to six. Last year the children enjoyed cultivating and eating a variety of familiar and new vegetables from the gardens, prepared meals with them and were proud to also take them home. The teachers learned that children are natural gardeners when it is taught to them as part of their everyday living activities.

The City of Oaks Foundation is proud to support the Raleigh Environmental Awards, the Raleigh Environmental Advisory Board, and the work of Raleigh’s Office of Sustainability to make a great Raleigh even greater.