Fort Collins, Colo. – The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) and American Public Gardens Association have partnered to support public gardens and their community partners engaging in urban agriculture and food growing to address food security challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the USBG and the Association awarded $403,450 to 21 public garden partnerships across the United States that will foster public engagement and education in urban food growing and build capacity in urban agriculture programs.
The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program aims to strengthen collaborations, promote resilience and gather best practices from across the U.S. The Friends of the Gardens on Spring Creek, the nonprofit partner of the Gardens on Spring Creek, a City of Fort Collins cultural services facility, is one of the recipient gardens.
The Gardens on Spring Creek grows up to 7,000 pounds of food annually for the Food Bank for Larimer County through its Garden of Eatin’ and manages eight community garden locations – including more than 150 plots – throughout the Fort Collins community. The Gardens offers adult education classes on growing fruits and vegetables and preserving the harvest, many of which are now being offered virtually.
Additionally, The Gardens serves as a collection site for Plant It Forward, a partnership with the Food Bank for Larimer County which invites local gardeners to plant an extra row and donate produce to support low-income, youth, seniors, and other vulnerable populations served by the Food Bank for Larimer County. Participants may drop off their produce at The Gardens, especially on weekends when the Food Bank is not open.
These funds will help participating programs in 16 states and Washington, D.C. integrate urban food growing and education while addressing food security challenges facing their communities. The program seeks to leverage the strength of public gardens working with partners in their communities, ranging from schools, universities, and urban farms to food pantries, community gardens, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program will provide insight into successful approaches and future opportunities for public gardens and their partners to creatively utilize their unique assets to advance food and agriculture education in urban communities.
“The past year has underscored the widespread interest in, and need for, urban agriculture programs that address food insecurity. We are excited to build on the success of last year’s Urban Agriculture Resilience Program and support innovative collaborations between public gardens and diverse partners in their communities,” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “It’s inspiring to see these partners coming together to extend the reach and deepen the impact of their programming.”
“We are proud to continue to partner with the U.S. Botanic Garden and offer these awards that provide opportunities to directly address knowledge gaps and food insecurity in 21 communities nationwide,” said Casey Sclar, executive director of the American Public Gardens Association. “Through these awards we also will continue to gain knowledge of what makes successful partnerships possible, helping more gardens to be the resilient centers of their communities.”
The Urban Agriculture Resilience Program began in 2020 as a way for the USBG and the Association to help public gardens continue urban agriculture and food growing programs facing funding and capacity challenges due to COVID-19.