March 24, 2011

How to fund a community garden

If it were up to us, every community playground would have a community garden, or vice-versa. Gardening and play go hand in hand -- they both connect kids with the outdoors, promote public health, and strengthen neighborhoods. Here, Wendy Irwin, from the Yellow Tractor Program gives us some tips on how to get started:

How are we going to pay for it? That’s often one of the first questions asked as communities plan and prepare for any project, from community-built playspaces to gardens. As an organization that advocates for and creates safe spaces conducive to healthy lifestyles, Yellow Tractor Program delivers activity-based nutrition education and the actual know-how and tools for groups to grow their own healthy food. In the opening stages of projects, Yellow Tractor inevitably encounters concerns about funding, particularly for multiple-user groups, and we’ve developed the following helpful guidelines. 


Whether you plan to seek project funding covering everything from assessment (or “Is the space we have in mind suitable for a fruit and vegetable garden?”) to harvest (or “To whom and how will we deliver our surplus produce in the spirit of helping those in need?”), or you simply plan to get materials donated piecemeal, the “ask” or how you approach the potential business or foundation is key. Win-win partnerships are always the most successful. 

For local business, the ask is built on benefits to the business owner or donations decision-maker, who likely will consider:

  1. Good will in the eyes of his or her established customer base.
  2. The likely growth of that base to include new clients who make their decisions to patronize one business over the others based on the business’s activity level in and financial support of their community
  3. The fact that they are helping develop healthy children and families.  

When approaching foundations, you should know the areas of support listed in their mission statements and that are clearly evidenced by previous grants they have awarded. Sometimes creativity is the key to aligning your needs to fit their support goals. The good news with nutrition gardens is that the benefits are endless and encompass most areas of support: health and nutrition, active lifestyles, community building, leadership training, youth development, hunger, and education for any age garden participant. 

It's time to roll up your sleeves and dig in!

Listen in to our on-demand online workshop, Community-Built Gardens: an Introduction with Yellow Tractor Program, and find more resources at You can also get or give gardening advice in our online Gardening Zoned In group.

community gardens, fundraising, green, funding, gardening