Bennett’s Mill Middle wins grant for community garden

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Project XL Readiness Program, Inc. has been awarded a $3,000 grant from Whole Kids Foundation to build an edible educational garden at Bennett’s Mill Middle School.

Bennett’s Mill Middle is about to get greener. Local nonprofit Project XL Readiness Program, Inc. has been awarded a $3,000 grant from the Whole Kids Foundation to build an edible educational garden at Bennett’s Mill Middle School. Project XL’s Garden-to-Grub Service Learning Program partners with local schools to create edible gardens and help to sustain them throughout the year.

“This is an opportunity to create a beautiful space where the entire Bronco Community can come together,” said Melanie Holt, founder and managing director of Project XL.

Holt, who also serves as the Parent Liaison at Bennett’s Mill, shared that this gives families and staff members the opportunity to work together. So far, the school’s Environmental Club, 7th Grade Science Department, School Counselor, Media Specialist, and Title I Teacher participate in the garden club. The club also includes several families and community partners. Future plans include a community ribbon-cutting, a brick fundraiser, and plot leasing.

Whole Kids Foundation’s Garden Program helps schools and organizations in the US, Canada, and the UK connect students to real food through edible learning gardens aimed at improving children’s nutrition and wellness. The organization has awarded funding for over 6,000 edible education gardens, investing more than $12.5 million in Garden Grants, and benefiting 8.2 million students across all Whole kids Foundations programs since 2011.

“We believe in the power of a garden as a learning space,” said Nona Evans, president and executive director of Whole Kids Foundation. “Every garden grant creates an opportunity for kids to learn more about where their food comes from, gain a deeper understanding of the connection between what we eat and how we feel, and put all of that learning into action as they make daily choices for meals and snacks.”

Gardens are becoming an increasingly common educational tool and for good reason: school gardens are shown to improve children’s behavior and performance at school and improve their attitudes about and appreciation for the environment. Additionally, only two percent of children eat enough fresh vegetables and fruits, but children who have a hand in growing food are more likely to eat vegetables and fruits and to be more knowledgeable about nutrition.

Established by Whole Foods Market in 2011, the company covers Whole Kids Foundation’s operational costs, allowing 100 percent of every dollar donated to directly support schools, including the Garden Grant Program.

For more information on Whole Kids Foundation Garden Grants and how to apply, visit wholekidsfoundation.org. Additionally, those interested can also sign up for the Whole Kids Foundation newsletter to get up-to-date information on all the foundation’s initiatives.

For more information about Project XL and for garden updates, visit readytoXL.org or facebook.com/readytoXL.