UNION COUNTY, NJ – Spring must be coming soon when the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced it’s time for the 2017 Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program to accept applications for matching grants to start a community garden, or to expand or improve an existing community garden in Union County.

The Community Garden Grants program is funded by the Freeholder Board with the goal of enabling more County residents to enjoy the benefits of growing fresh produce garden in their neighborhoods. Only gardens that grow produce are eligible for grants.

All applicants must match their award with an equivalent amount from other sources, in cash or in the value of supplies, equipment or professional labor. They must be non-profit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or municipal departments or entities including public libraries, senior centers and community centers. Other volunteer groups may apply for a grant by partnering with their local municipality or a 501(c)(3) organization. Gardens that applied for a grant in 2016 are welcome to apply for a 2017 grant.

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The new round of funding follows on the success of the 2016 Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program, an initiative of Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen.

“The Community Garden Grants program was introduced for the first time last year, and it received an enthusiastic response,” said Bergen. “We provided funding for 19 different garden projects in 10 different municipalities and we are looking forward to another successful season.”

 “Along with improved nutrition, community gardens offer many new opportunities for education, recreation, community service and social activities for all ages,” said Freeholder Vice Chairman Sergio Granados. “Interest in community gardening has been growing rapidly in Union County and across the country, and the Freeholder Board is very proud to support this important movement.”

A minimum grant request of $800.00 and a maximum of $3,000.00 are suggested. Pre-budgeted grant packages are also available.

“The pre-budgeted grant packages were a popular part of last year’s grant program,” said Bergen. “They helped take the guesswork out of ordering supplies and constructing new beds.”

Applications for a 2017 grant are due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7. Union County will notify grant recipients no later than Thursday, March 16.

More details and downloadable application forms are available on the county website, at ucnj.org/garden-grants.

To view the 2016 Community Garden Grants recipients, visit ucnj.org/green-connection.

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.