Twenty public schools across Chatham County are getting supplies and $40,000 in grants for school gardens thanks to a new partnership between a local nonprofit, the local school system and a nationwide educational gardening organization.
Loop It Up Savannah and the Savannah Chatham Public Schools System have teamed up with nationwide nonprofit Big Green to provide dozens of grants to build new or support existing school gardens throughout the course of the upcoming school year.
“We are elated to kick off this new partnership,” Loop It Up founder and Executive Director Molly Lieberman said. “Many partners have worked together to build and operate gardens, which bring fresh food, well-being and educational opportunities to our neighborhoods, schools and residents. Savannah’s new relationship with Big Green brings an additional layer of resource, structure, sustainability and support to this important work which is vital to our well-being.”
This collaboration is already paying off in a big way. Twenty schools are each receiving $2,000, and 18 of those schools will also receive kits for raised garden beds. The first round of grants was awarded earlier this month to the following local schools:
● A.B. Williams Elementary School
● Gadsden Elementary School
● Garden City Elementary School
● Georgetown K-8 School
● Godley Station School
● Haven Elementary School
● Isle of Hope PK-8 School
● JHC Butler Elementary School
● Lee Roy Myers Middle School
● Marshpoint Elementary School
● Pulaski Elementary School
● Sarah Mill Hodge Elementary School
● Savannah High School of Liberal Studies
● School of Humanities at Juliette Low Elementary School
● Shuman Elementary School
● Southwest Elementary School
● Southwest Middle School
● The Early Learning Center at Henderson E. Formey Jr. School
● Virginia L. Heard Elementary School
● Woodville Tompkins Technical and Career High School
These grants are part of Big Green’s Jumpstart program, which equips schools with a comprehensive Learning Garden kit, including a raised bed and/or a $2,000 grant to support school garden programming and implementation. The application window for a second round of grants will open Sept. 1.
“We are excited about the impact Big Green’s Jumpstart program will have in our schools,” said Bernadette Ball-Oliver, Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning for SCCPSS. “We know that Learning Gardens provide opportunities for students to learn skills in all disciplines and that the gardens will promote healthy eating, as well as how to grow food for our school families and staff. Planting, learning, growing, harvesting – what a difference-maker this will be for our students.”
To support successful implementation of the Jumpstart grants and Learning Garden kits, Loop It Up was awarded a $40,000 grant from Big Green to serve as a partnership liaison – helping new gardens get up and running, supporting existing gardens, identifying prospective schools and more.
“Communities throughout Savannah and Chatham County have a long and collaborative history of school and community gardening,” Lieberman said. “Loop It Up, along with other local agencies, such as the Savannah Urban Garden Alliance, have been proud to partner with SCCPSS on school gardening initiatives for many years. We are looking forward to both deepening and broadening integration of school gardens into ongoing the educational experiences of our students with Big Green’s partnership and support.”
Big Green, which is based in Colorado, provides scalable gardening programs supporting food literacy education to school systems and communities across the country.
“Big Green is excited to partner with Savannah Chatham County Public School System and the nonprofit Loop It Up to bring Learning Gardens and Jumpstart grants to schools across the district,” said Kimbal Musk, Co-Founder and CEO of Big Green. “It's clear that the district leadership strongly supports the integration of garden programming into its goals and priorities. Together with the district and Loop It Up, we can't wait to see the positive impact this will have on the teachers and students in Savannah as we start planting seeds and growing food this fall.”
For more information about the Big Green, visit biggreen.org
. To learn more about the Jumpstart grant program in Savannah, visit biggreen.org/jumpstartsavannah