North Hills Community Outreach’s Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden recently received a $30,000 grant from Seeds of Change, after receiving enough online votes from the community to be considered for a grant award. Seeds of Change, a producer of sustainably grown organic seeds and nutritious organic foods, awarded $310,000 in total grants to 24 garden projects around the country to recognize the value of food, farming, sustainability and nutrition education. The annual grant program benefits select school and community gardening and farming programs in the United States that focus on food, farming, sustainability and nutrition education.
“One of the greatest parts of winning this grant was knowing that we had the support of the community,” said Sharon Wolf, NHCO’s executive director. “Everything we do, from feeding families and meeting their most basic needs, to helping people find better employment and education opportunities, is done because community members support us. By voting, people demonstrated that they trust us to serve the most vulnerable in their neighborhoods. We feel blessed to have that honor.”
North Hills Community Outreach is a nonprofit serving local families in hardship and poverty in northern Allegheny County through more than 20 programs. NHCO submitted an application highlighting how they would use a Seeds of Change Grant to grow their gardening program and nourish a healthier, greener community. The NHCO garden, located in Bellevue, is a community organic garden which, with the help of many volunteers, produces thousands of pounds of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables annually for low-income families who receive food from NHCO’s three food pantries.
Alyssa Crawford, NHCO’s garden and youth coordinator, noted that the grant not only will help feed hungry families, but will support education efforts in the garden. “There is a huge educational component to what we do here,” Crawford said. “Volunteers, including young people, participate in every step from hoeing to weeding and harvesting. Youth groups and school groups learn about sustainability and food justice issues by working in the garden, in educational programs in the schools and through presentations at conferences. There’s so much this garden offers the local and broader community.”
NHCO received the grant following a close evaluation of several hundred applicants,
and a public voting period, and a competition among the 50 gardens receiving the most votes . Twenty-four gardens received grants: 12 school gardens and 12 community gardens. Of those, 10 school gardens and 10 community gardens received $10,000, two school gardens received $25,000, and two community gardens – one of which was NHCO’s garden – received $30,000.