The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department’s Step ONE program offers grants to neighborhoods and organizations to begin and sustain teaching gardens. The purpose of the teaching garden initiative is to:
- Demonstrate to children and families the importance of food choices for overall health;
- Provide opportunities for people to learn valuable skills such as communication, responsibility, teamwork, and leadership.
Teaching gardens improve the relationship we have with food. Research shows that people- especially children- are more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables they produce. Additionally, when a group of people come together around the garden process they also grow healthy relationships with each other and the community around them.
“Each garden tells a unique story,” says Step ONE Garden Grant Coordinator Renee Craig, “It’s a story of overcoming obstacles, cultivating relationships, and learning core values such as hard work, cooperation, and leadership. When these values become rooted in the garden, they become rooted in our community.”
Since December 2008, Step ONE has funded 54 teaching gardens around Hamilton County. Any organization such as neighborhood associations, churches, schools, businesses, or daycares may apply.New teaching garden grants are awarded in the amount of $1000, and previous grantees can apply for $250 a year for up to 3 years.Now through September 1st, Step ONE will be accepting applications which can be found on the Step ONE website.
Current grant recipients have this to say:
- “Through this garden project, the children are developing a deeper appreciation for nature and our beautiful world.We have children who normally don’t touch a green thing on their plate jumping at the chance to taste their cucumbers and tomatoes straight from the vine!” – First Centenary Children’s Enrichment Center Garden
- “The children that go to this school are in an urban area without a lot of gardens around the school. Having the garden there ensures we educate them early on where food comes from, healthy eating and the science involved in gardening. I’m so glad we have our garden!” – UTC Children’s Center at Brown Academy Garden
To apply for the teaching garden grants, visit the Step ONE website or call 423-209-8090.