January 24, 2023
For Immediate Release
RE: Growing Together Community Garden Grants
Growing Together Rutherford
The Community Health Council of Rutherford County is offering grants to non-profit organizations who plan to start a community garden. The Council’s hope is that groups throughout the county will begin a garden where neighbors work together to construct the garden and grow food for their own consumption and share any extra produce with those in need. Awards will be considered from non-profit entities, clubs, or churches. Each group will be expected to commit at least three years to the project.
The Healthy Eating Committee from the Community Health Council will review applications and select up to five Growing Together Awards representing different areas in the county. Each winner will receive up to $1,500 for items such as supplies, plants, seeds, water sources, fencing, or tools needed to start the garden. Existing community gardens may apply for up to $500 to expand their project.
Training for all aspects of gardening is available through the local extension office. The Health Council will communicate opportunities for garden leaders and volunteers to learn more about gardening throughout the season. Awardees will gather to talk about best practices and discuss the progress of their projects. Normal progress reports will be required by the grantees. As desired, the Health Council will connect growers to local food pantries to receive donations through established partnerships.
A food study conducted in 2019 established that access to healthy, local produce is restricted in Rutherford County. Many of the county’s rural communities are cited as food deserts, meaning that affordable, healthy food is limited or non-existent because grocery stores are too far away. Over 29% of residents in Rutherford County live more than 10 miles away from a full-service grocery story. Growing food close to home is a healthy, economical way to help local families.
Jill Miracle, Executive Director of the Community Health Council, explains the Growing Together Rutherford project. “We want to support a new network of community gardeners because the consumption of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables leads to improved health in people of all ages. The Community Health Council first developed the grant opportunity in 2018 to assist residents of the county to become intentional about increasing the number of servings of locally grown food in their diets. Providing grant funding for groups to experiment with growing and preparing different kinds of fresh foods is one strategy toward healthier eating.”
The grant application can be found in the NEWS section on the Community Health Council of Rutherford County website, https://www.healthcouncilrc.com and from posts on their Facebook page. The deadline for grant applications is 5:00 on March 15. Contestants will be notified about awards by March 31. For more information about the opportunity or to request a printed copy of the grant application, please call 828-202-4630 or email HealthCouncilRC@gmail.com. The Community Health Council of Rutherford County is grateful to RHI Legacy Foundation for providing funding for the Growing Together project.