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Union County Freeholder Board offers Grants for Community Gardens

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UNION COUNTY - As part of Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados’s 2018 Union County Plant a Seed grants initiative, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that the Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program is now accepting applications for grants to start a community garden, or to expand or improve an existing community garden.

“Union County Means Green is funded by the Freeholder Board to help children and adults connect with the experience of growing fresh produce in their communities, leading to improved nutrition as well as opportunities for education, recreation, social activities, community service and neighborhood beautification.”

“People of all ages and abilities can enjoy the empowering experience of growing fresh food in their communities, learn about agriculture, and discover how even a small plot of land can yield a bountiful harvest,” Granados added. “Educating gardeners on best practices for a healthy and successful garden is also an important part of this program.”

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The Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program is funded by the Freeholder Board with the goal of enabling more County residents to experience the benefits of growing fresh produce in their neighborhoods. It is part of Chairman Granados’s “Union County Plant a Seed” educational and individual empowerment initiative for 2018.

“Grants from Union County Means Green have helped to transform empty fields and bare lots into thriving gardens that are centers for community activities, with thousands of pounds of fresh produce consumed and donated to local food pantries,” said Freeholder Bruce Bergen, who launched the program when he served as Chairman in 2016. “It is exciting to look forward to another productive year, and I thank Chairman Granados and my colleagues on the Freeholder Board for continuing to support and build on the program.”

Union County Means Green grants include pre-budgeted $1,250.00 all-in-one packages for starting new gardens, $500.00 block grants for expanding or improving gardens (including the purchase of equipment and supplies), and Garden Innovations grants for pollinator, hydroponic and high tunnel gardens.

“The pre-budgeted grant packages have been especially popular because they take all the guesswork out of ordering supplies, coordinating deliveries and setting up new beds,” said Granados. “This year we are expanding the program to include raised beds, Earth Boxes and specially designed waste-high beds, to help make gardening more accessible for young children, seniors and persons with disabilities.”

Funding from the Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program is available to non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, and to municipal entities including public libraries, senior centers and community centers.

Other volunteer groups and civic organizations are welcome to apply for a grant, but they must designate a municipal or 501(c)(3) organization to receive the funds. The grant partner will accept the award on behalf of the garden and ensure that the funds are disbursed in accordance with the grant guidelines.

Applications for a 2018 grant are due by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 16. Union County will notify grant recipients on or about Friday, March 23.

For more details and a downloadable application form, visit Union County at ucnj.org/ garden-grants, or contact Groundwork Elizabeth, 908-289-0262 or info@groundworkelizabeth.org.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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