Walker, Troy principal seeks grant to expand garden program

Grants to be awarded Dec. 15
By Ben Holbrook | Dec 04, 2012
Photo by: Ben Holbrook Glen Widmer, principal for the Troy and Walker schools, is seeking a $10,000 grant to help increase the number of garden programs n Regional School Unit 3.

A $10,000 “Share the Good” grant could help expand programs at several Regional School Unit 3 schools by increasing the number of raised gardens and improving greenhouses.

Glen Widmer, principal of Troy and Walker schools, said the grants are awarded by Seeds of Change –– a West Coast-based company that processes organic food –– to help schools and communities expand their garden programs. The company awards 12 grants in the amount of $10,000 each as part of the program.

If awarded, Widmer said, the money could be applied to building more raised garden beds at Walker Elementary School, adding more gardens at Monroe Elementary School and possibly expanding the greenhouse at Morse Memorial School.

“It would really benefit us,” Widmer said, if the grant is awarded.

The greenhouse at Walker Elementary School served as a pilot program to determine if similar projects could be implemented in other RSU 3 schools. In addition to providing local produce for students and the cafeteria, the greenhouse was incorporated into the curriculum, primarily in science, although teachers were also able to include some math and writing, as well.

Because of the positive response from students, teachers and community members, Widmer has been looking at ways of expanding the program into outlying schools. To help him with that, the district brought in FoodCorps member Katie Morabito, who is now assessing what type of program to implement at the different schools.

As part of the grant evaluation process, 10 percent of the application is evaluated based on nominations from members of the community. Widmer said he contacted parents and supporters asking for nominations and was pleased at the response he received, as many responded to say they filled out the nomination form.

With funding cuts at both the state and federal levels, Widmer noted that the competition for grants has increased significantly in recent years.

Widmer said there are many grants available for garden projects, but the increased competition makes it that much more difficult to secure the funding. He said he applied for a large grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, but has yet to be notified whether his application was selected or not.

Applications for the Seeds of Change grant were accepted until Friday, Nov. 30. Widmer said he anticipates being notified about whether the grant was awarded or not by Dec. 15.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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