We’re so excited to announce our latest crop of Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grant recipients for this year!

Every year, we watch in amazement as creative and innovative grant-funded projects sprout and blossom in school gardens all over the United States and Canada.

In 2019, we will proudly fund another $1.2 million for 602 schools and nonprofits — creating edible garden opportunities for more than 450,000 students.

These funds will give a boost to incredible programs like Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks in Ocala, Florida, where middle schoolers designed and built their own solar-powered aquaponics system.

Besides enjoying all the benefits of an edible garden — including serving their homegrown tomatoes and lettuce in the school cafeteria — these students also raise koi, catfish and tilapia to fertilize the plants. And they even learn business skills by selling fish to raise money for the program.

Their affordable aquaponics system also is a showcase of water and energy efficiency. The kids are growing 15-16 acres of food in a mere 60- by 30-foot area!

“What we’ve found is students really want ownership in this program,” Principal Troy Sanford said. “The kids are excited to come to school because they’ve got a responsibility to take care of the plants and take care of the fish. They also are proud to learn job-related skills.”

School gardens are growing in popularity because they are such powerful tools to engage students, foster independence, and inspire learning on so many levels. Gardens are shown to boost academic performance, improve behavior, and build more positive attitudes about the environment.

They also encourage healthier habits. Children who have a hand in growing food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and to be more knowledgeable about nutrition.

The Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grant Program accepts applications each year from September 1 through October 15. Visit our website to learn more about eligibility requirements.

Check out our Garden Resource Center for loads of inspiration and how-to links and read more success stories to see the many ways our grants are making a healthy difference in kids’ lives.

Whole Kids Foundation also offers a free Starting With Soil interactive tablet app and our Kids Club highlights cooking activities, recycled crafts, recipe ideas and book recommendations for families to enjoy at home.