UNION COUNTY, NJ - Applications for the 2020 UC Kids Dig In grant program have been sent to all school districts in Union County. The program is designed to help schools provide students with new educational and community service activities, by building and tending vegetable gardens on their premises.

All schools in Union County with students in grades pre-K through 12 are eligible to apply for a Kids Dig In grant. The grants are funded through the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

“School gardens offer many opportunities for hands-on learning across a range of academic subjects, and they also encourage students to learn about soil health, water conservation, pollinator preservation, and other environmental topics related to gardening,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

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The UC Kids Dig In began in 2017 as an initiative of Freeholder Sergio Granados, Chairman of the Trust Fund. Now in its fourth year, the program has issued 172 grants for school gardens.

“UC Kids Dig In teaches kids about growing their own healthy food options and empowers them to help those in need, by donating 30% of their harvest to benefit local food pantries and shelters,” said Granados. “The grants are relatively small in size but their impact on the Union County community is enormous.”

Prior experience in gardening is not needed to qualify for a UC Kids Dig In grant. Awardees receive guidance from the UC Kids Dig In grant administrator, Groundwork Elizabeth.

Grant application forms have been sent to school superintendents in all Union County school districts. The deadline for submissions is Monday, March 20 at 5:00 p.m.

Principals and educators who are interested in having their school apply for a grant can contact Victoria Durbin-Drake, Administrator, Office of the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund at vdurbin@ucnj.org or 908-558-2277.