Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Slow Food First Coast Announces School Garden Grants Winners

Slow Food First Coast (SFFC) is proud to announce the winners of the Fall 2012 School Garden Grants.
Congratulations to the winners:

  • Tracy Ruark and Dayle Timmons, Chets Creek Elementary 
  • Sarah Jane Todd and Cathy Gurick, Mill Creek Elementary 
  • Jennifer Spess and Greg Lulkoski, First Coast Technical College Pre-K 
  • Michelle Smith, San Mateo Elementary 

The SFFC School Gardens Committee received several noteworthy applications from across St. Johns and Duval Counties and was very pleased with the quality and originality of the proposals submitted. According to SFFC leader Richard Villadóniga, “As a teacher, I know I work with many creative and talented educators, but I was very impressed by the high caliber of extraordinary applications we received. It made for a most difficult selection process, but in the end, we are confident we decided on the proposals that will have the greatest positive impact on the students of St. Johns and Duval Counties.”



Slow Food First Coast received a very generous contribution of $2500 from the Hayes Family Foundation in 2011 to make the possibility of funding a number of new school gardens in the region. With these four new gardens, SFFC will have established or helped to establish 24 school and community gardens in Northeast Florida. “We are thrilled to have partnered with the Hayes Family Foundation, and even more so to be able to continue to provide garden kits to local teachers who are making such a tremendous difference in our community,” said Villadóniga.

Established in 1997, the Hayes Family Foundation supports charities in Atlanta, GA, Highlands, NC and Jacksonville, FL. The Foundation’s mission is to promote intergenerational family unity by using venture philanthropy to enhance the effectiveness of worthy organizations. The trustees strive to improve their communities by enhancing the capacity of individuals and organizations. The Foundation is pleased to support Slow Food First Coast in its effort to establish new school gardens in Duval and St. Johns County, FL.

In addition to its other efforts in supporting the local foods movement, Slow Food First Coast has focused on programs centered on the youth of our region, including offering teachers this opportunity to receive a raised bed container garden kit, complete with funds for organic soil and heritage seeds, a guidebook and lesson plans, a Slow Food plaque, and mentoring with experienced gardeners to learn about organic farming. In return, winners will plant a school garden this Fall, record their work in a portfolio, and offer their students a taste experience with their harvest, all in an effort to promote a healthier, more sustainable food system and educate children about making more informed food and nutrition choices. More school garden grants will be offered in Fall 2013 for interested educators. Slow Food First Coast is a non-profit organization that promotes a food system based on quality and pleasure, environmental sustainability, and social justice. For more information, please visit www.slowfoodfirstcoast.com.