SEEDS: Growing gardens, growing minds

A garden provides a child a place to belong, to explore, to learn, and to grow. SEEDS offers educators, parents and caregivers 72 learning activities to be used with children in the garden. Based on early childhood education best practices, the activities are designed around the four seasons of a garden. Learn more.

Urban agri-hood seeds change in blighted Detroit community

Detroit’s North End neighborhood has been chronically plagued with vacant land, blighted property, food insecurity and nutritional illiteracy. The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI), a 100% volunteer led organization, aims to unite the community and solve for these challenges using agriculture as the platform to promote education, community engagement and sustainability to area residents.

MUFI currently operates a three-acre farm and high-density orchard that helps feed more than 200 poverty-stricken households within two-square miles of the farm, operating on a pay-what-you-can model. Produce also goes to neighborhood food pantries, churches and is sold to local restaurants and vendors.

Through community supported agriculture, MUFI is redeveloping a two-square-block area in Detroit's North End and positioning it as an epicenter of urban agriculture, demonstrating best practices for sustainable urban agriculture, effective strategies for increasing food security, cost-competitive and scalable models for blight deconstruction, and innovation in blue and green infrastructure.

MUFI recently announced plans to create the nation’s first urban agri-hood, an alternative neighborhood growth model, positioning agriculture as the centerpiece of a mixed-use development.

Community members fight back against neighborhood hunger

Rochester, New York is a city at a critical turning point. The fifth poorest city in America, with more than half of its children living in poverty, it has some of the highest concentrations of extremely poor neighborhoods in the country. Poverty in Rochester is synonymous with inadequate nutrition, poor health, and lack of access to healthy foods and knowledge about proper nutrition.

But Pamela Reese Smith is determined to change this in her community... through gardening.

Working with the City of Rochester’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute, an organization designed to develop community leaders who will instill positive change in their neighborhoods, Pamela created twelve neighborhood teams who began community gardens in their different zip codes. The effort soon became contagious and there are now more than 30 gardens throughout the City of Rochester growing healthy foods for their neighbors and communities.

Pamela was instrumental in creating the Rochester Urban Agriculture Garden and Training Center, which provides education and hands-on training for community garden leaders, urban gardeners and area youth.

Sensory garden connects special-needs students to the community, each other

“For Sophie, who is unable to walk or talk, being in the garden is really calming. There are so many wonderful sensations in the garden, the smell of the plants, the texture of the lawn, the scents of blossoms, the sound of birds, the varied colors.” – Park School Family

The Park School Family in Evanston, Illinois––a public school and therapeutic day program for students, ages 3 through 22, with special needs––first imagined a sensory garden for its students as part of its year-round horticulture therapy program led by the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Park School Family provides a wide range of special services and therapies to support every student and his or her specific needs, and Principal Marlene Grossman knew her teachers could expand their therapeutic services through a larger, in-ground sensory garden that could enhance the students’ experiences.

And that dream soon became a reality.

A sensory garden, including handicapped accessible raised beds and walkways and plantings that heighten all of the senses, was built with GRO1000 support, allowing students with limited cognitive and physical abilities to see, smell, touch and hear the many colors, fragrances, textures and sounds from the garden as well as fostering an inclusive space where students can participate in community-based activities.