Outstanding Community Gardens Win 2011 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards

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Three outstanding community gardens from across the United States have been honored with 2011 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards. The awards are sponsored by http://www.naturehills.com.

The 2011 Green America Awards honor community gardening projects that are improving local neighborhoods.

“This year’s crop of Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards winners is proof that horticultural stewardship makes the world a better place,” said Jeffrey Dinslage, president of Nature Hills Nursery.

Three outstanding community gardens from across the United States have been honored with 2011 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards. The awards are sponsored by Nature Hills Nursery, a web-based retailer of plants and gardening products at http://www.naturehills.com.

Honored with the Grand Prize Award of $2,500 in plants was the Urban Harvest Program of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, which grows 5,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables per year for hungry children. In addition to food production, Urban Harvest actively demonstrates the positive impact of urban agriculture.

Chosen for the First Place Award of $1,500 in plants was Slow Food Chicago’s preSERVE Community Garden, a food-producing garden in a neighborhood that many locals have called a “food desert.” The plants donated by Nature Hills Nursery will serve a vital function in establishing this garden as a permanent fixture in the community.

Honored with the Second Place Award of $1,000 in plants was Aviation Community Garden in Dearborn, Michigan, a garden started three years ago by a group of civic-minded neighbors that has turned a blighted city lot into a shining example of the benefits of community gardening.

“The winners of the 2011 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards are nonprofit gardening projects that are truly making a real difference in their respective communities,” said Jeffrey Dinslage, president of Nature Hills Nursery, which sponsors the national awards. “We are proud to support these local efforts to create and expand gardens that foster education and food independence in urban environments.”

The Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards were created to give national recognition and $5,000 in plants to organizations and groups who are making improvements to their local communities and environments.

Winners of the 2011 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards were chosen from hundreds applications submitted by community groups, nonprofit organizations, and gardening programs from across the USA. Nature Hills Nursery-- an Omaha-based website-only retailer that sells trees, shrubs, perennials, seeds, organic fertilizers, organic pest controls and garden accessories-- created the Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards as a way to give back to the communities and people who have contributed to the success of the company.

“This year’s crop of Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards winners is proof once again that gardening and horticultural stewardship makes the world a better place,” said Dinslage.

For more information about the Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards, visit http://www.naturehills.com.

Additional Information: Winners of 2011 Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards

Grand Prize-- $2,500
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Urban Harvest Program
3355 S. Purdue
Oklahoma City, OK 73137
http://www.regionalfoodbank.org

Contact Person: Angie Gaines
(405) 604-7109    againes(at)regionalfoodbank(dot)org

Urban Harvest is an innovative, sustainable agriculture program that grows fresh fruits and vegetables for hungry Oklahomans who often have limited access to nutritious food. This program began more than a decade ago and serves three primary functions — production, demonstration and composting.    

Urban Harvest currently produces 5,000 pounds of food per year, all grown organically on site. These fresh fruits and vegetables are provided to hungry children through the Food Bank’s Kids Cafe afterschool and summer feeding programs. In addition to food production, Urban Harvest actively demonstrates the positive impact of urban agriculture. This demonstration occurs through a series of classes that are geared to home gardeners and through group tours given by the Food Bank. Urban Harvest also has a significant composting program, which composts inedible produce that has been donated to the Food Bank. In the last fiscal year, the program composted 179,538 pounds of organic waste, saving the Food Bank $16,543 in waste disposal costs. The finished compost helps grow healthier fruits and vegetables without chemical fertilizers.

The majority of fresh fruits and vegetables produced by Urban Harvest are distributed through childhood hunger programs, such as an afterschool and summer program called Kids Cafe and Summer Feeding.    

First Place-- $1,500
Slow Food Chicago's preSERVE Community Garden
Central Park Avenue and 12th Place
Chicago

Mailing address:
Chicago Honey Coop
2000 W. Carol St #301
Chicago, IL 60612
http://www.slowfoodchicago.org

Contact Person: Jennifer Sandy
(312) 485-1675     slowfoodpreserve(at)gmail(dot)com

Slow Food Chicago’s preSERVE garden is located in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, which is arguably a "food desert." The preSERVE Community Garden is on a 4,000 square-foot lot that is now an oasis and natural magnet for the surrounding community.

While the 2010 harvest at the preSERVE garden was a success, it was neither as varied nor as sustainable as the gardeners hope to see in future years. The plants donated by Nature Hills Nursery will serve a vital function in establishing this garden as a permanent fixture in the community. Installing fruiting trees and brambles at the preSERVE garden will serve two purposes. These plants will not only provide delicious fresh fruit, but their perennial growth habit will signify the permanence of this garden. These plants also will allow for structural and design interest in the garden space, making it more inviting to the community.

Second Place-- $1,000
Aviation Community Garden
7636 Calhoun
Dearborn, MI 48126
http://eastendgarden.blogpost.com

Contact Person: Barbara Bechard
(313) 584-1188     barb_bechard(at)hotmail(dot)com

The Aviation Community Garden is located in the City of Dearborn's Historic Aviation Neighborhood on a 40 x 120 foot lot which formally had a home on it. The home was abandoned and eventually torn down. The lot became an eyesore to the neighborhood. One of the neighbors, a young college student who was tired of the blight, got together with other neighbors and approached the City of Dearborn with a request to turn the vacant lot into a Community Garden.

The City agreed to the proposal and leased the lot for $1 per year to the neighborhood group with the understanding that the group would be responsible for any improvements to the lot, the costs sustained in these improvements and maintenance.

This was the first community garden in the City of Dearborn, and other gardens are being planned based on the success of the Aviation Community Garden.

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Randy Schultz
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