ELIZABETH, NJ—PreK students to seniors in high school in 11 city schools are getting their hands dirty as recipients “Union County Kids Dig In!” grants, sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The 11 schools were among the 32 in 12 county municipalities to be awarded the grants. The eleven schools:

Mabel G. Holmes Annex No. 5

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Jerome Dunn Academy School No. 9                                            

John Marshall School # 20

Abraham Lincoln School 14

Albert Einstein Academy School #29

Thomas A. Edison Career & Technical Academy

Winfield Scott School #2

Victor Mravlag School #21

Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy

Juan Pablo Duarte- Jose Julian Marti School No. 28

Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy

The Freeholders granted 32 schools in 12.

The grant assistance covers establishing/building of gardens, garden boxes and/or tools and equipment. It is aimed at educating students about gardening and fostering the growth and creation of community gardens at the schools.

“Our goal is to teach children how food is grown, to educate them about nutrition, and to make them think about the environment and the world around them, including their own communities,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados, who thought of the program and worked to create it this year as the chairman of the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. “This is a great way to get everyone involved in community gardening—not only the children, but also their parents, the teachers and local residents.”

Granados noted that the grant requires that 30 percent of the harvest be given in a community donation, teaching children about charity. They also must enroll in Come Grow With Us!, a free countywide information and resource sharing network for community gardens.

“Studies also show that when children are engaged in gardening programs, their school performances improve and health outcomes improve,” Granados noted.

The County presented the Union County Kids Dig In! grant program to each school district through its Open Space Trust Fund, offering a total of just under $40,000 in grant assistance through revenues from golf fees administered through the fund.

The grant program covers produce gardens including vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, herbs and spices, pollinator-attracting plants and plants for pest management. It does not cover ornamental plants or non-producing gardens.