Community Giving Garden

Final Report for YENC14-072

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2014: $1,978.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Manager:
April Hoy
Stratford Ecological Center
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Project Information


[Editor's Note: To see this report with photos, open the PDF version.]


Our project was to educate youth about sustainable agriculture by engaging them in all aspects of a community service garden, while providing fresh organic produce to People In Need, our local food bank.


This project was accomplished in the following ways;

  • 3,500 students planted, harvested and maintained the Giving Garden during Farm and Field Trips
  • 350 Farm Campers ages 3 - 17, harvested food for the food bank, planted fall crops and maintained the Giving Garden by composting beds, watering, mulching and weeding
  • 250 High School Students gained hands-on experience and instruction to take back to their school service garden, as well as, tomatoes and pepper plants planted by the students.
  • Donated 1,498 pounds of fresh organic produce to People In Need.
  • Stratford held Organic Gardening for Adults, Organic Gardening for Kids, Small Farmers, Native Plant Propagation and Cultivation classes for 115 participants from the general public.
  • Partnered with 10 organizations in our community.



I have been involved in teaching youth about sustainable agriculture for 10 years. My training has come through hands-on life experience. First, during my childhood growing up on a small family farm where we raised sheep, chickens, hogs and rabbits, as well as, ate from a large vegetable garden. Later as an adult I became a Volunteer, Farm and Nature Guide at Stratford Ecological Center, which then lead to a full-time paid position as Field Trip Coordinator and eventually Farm Camp Director/ Education Director. I have had the opportunity to work with students from pre-school age to college students. With a 236-acre farm and nature preserve serving as a living classroom the lessons are diverse and adaptable to any age.


Stratford’s mission statement;

Stratford Ecological Center is dedicated to the education of children and adults in understanding the relationship between living things and their environment, thereby fostering an appreciation for the land and all life that depends on it.


Being an ecological center the lessons we teach are primarily focused on the relationships between plants, animals, insects and other living things in our natural community. The Giving Garden project expanded these lessons to include our relationship with each other as people, exploring the ideas around what kind of community we choose to create through our relationships with each other.



The 2014 giving garden project goals are to educate thousands of people about sustainable gardening techniques and hunger related issues in our community. As well as, to support and act as a resource for local groups and organizations working to end hunger.






Seed flats; leek, onion, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli

Up-date/create Giving Garden promotional information on web-site

Education – Visited Thomas Worthington High School, Food and Fitness Class. Seed flats of lettuce, tomatoes and peppers (for school Giving Garden). SEC will grow the flats in greenhouse until the school giving garden is ready for planting.

SEC Education Coordinator gave a 45-minute presentation about the basics of Organic Gardening, the importance of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Service to 120 high school students.


People In Need – Continue to donate fresh greens from the greenhouse. Met with Kevin Crowley to discuss the produce needs of the food bank. Created recipe cards, added organic gardening in small spaces ideas and tip to the back of the cards for PIN clients.



Seed flats; kale, cauliflower, celery, parsley, lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers.

Direct seed; peas, spinach

Depending on the weather pull back mulch to dry soil and turn in cover crop.


Set up Facebook access system for visiting groups.


Education – SEC began Farm and Field Trips. Over 2,000 students, teachers and parents visited Stratford during a spring Farm and Field Trip.   Giving Garden activities were set up for the students to gain hands-on experience in the garden. Children harvested early spring crops, planted transplants, turned in cover crops, worked compost into the garden beds, watered, weeded and planted seeds in the Giving Garden. Not only did the students gain an understanding of Organic Gardening but also the value of Community Service, and an appreciation of hunger in our local community.


People In Need – Donated early spring produce and greens from the greenhouse.



Seed flats; basil, cucumbers, squash, marigolds, calendula

Direct seed; beets, carrots, potatoes

Form Adult Giving Garden volunteer crew.


Education - The Thomas Worthington Food and Fitness class visits SEC to volunteer in our Giving Garden (continuing their gardening experience and education) and transplant their lettuce, tomatoes and pepper plants.


SEC offered Small Farmers, Organic Gardening for Adults, Organic Gardening for Kids, Vegetable Variety Seeding and Native Plant Propagation and Cultivation Classes to the public.


People In Need – Donated early spring produce and greens from greenhouse. Trained volunteers about the donation process.



Transplant; Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumber, squash, basil and other warm season crops. Compost and mulch beds. Reestablish paths with newspaper and straw, make worm casting tea, water, weed, harvest and cultivate.

Plant beneficial companion plants.


Education – Continue Farm and Field Trips;

The Thomas Worthington Food and Fitness class visited SEC to volunteer in our Giving Garden (continuing their gardening experience and education) and pick up tomato and pepper plants to take back to school Giving Garden


People In Need- Donated produce, container tomato plants to hand out at the food bank with care instructions.



Tended warm season crops, transition out Cole crops. Focus on session plantings of beet, carrot, bean, turn compost, water, weed and mulch.


Education – Small Farmers program worked in the Giving Garden to plant harvest and learn about our food bank program.

Farm Camp begins- for 8 weeks Monday – Friday children ages 3 – 16 will work in the Giving Garden. Over 320 campers will participate in the Giving Garden project


People In Need – Donated produce



Tended crops, watered, weeded, mulched, side dressed, turned compost. Harvest garlic and potatoes. Seeded fall crops


Education- Farm Camp and Family Farm Chores continue.


People In Need – Donated fresh produce



Harvest, watered, weeded, cultivated, transplanted fall crops, direct seeded (lettuce, spinach)


Education – Farm Camp Family and Family Farm Chores continue.


People In Need – Donated fresh produce



Transition out warm season, tend fall crops, harvest, plant cover crop, mulch, and turn compost.


Education – Fall Field trips begin, SEC will host around 1,500 children during the fall Field Trip season. The students were involved with everything from harvesting to covering the beds to getting ready for winter


People In Need – Invited PIN to set up a booth at the harvest fair.

Donated Produce



Transition out warm season, tend fall crops, harvest, plant cover crop, mulch, and turn compost.


Education Small Farmers harvested for the food bank, fall field trips continued. Thomas Worthington, Food and Fitness class returned to volunteer in the Giving Garden and learn about Sustainable Agriculture.

People In Need – Donated Produce, with a total of 1,498 pounds of fresh organic produce donated.


November – January, Plan for 2015 Garden and Educational Opportunities and continue to donate from SEC greenhouses.



  • April Hoy, SARE Project Manager, Education Director, Stratford Ecological Center (SEC)
  • Jeff Dickinson, Director /Farmer, SEC
  • Kevin Crowley, Executive Director, People In Need, Inc
  • Ray Domire, Deputy Director, People In Need, Inc
  • Glen Snow, Videographer, Snow Peak Productions
  • David Hoy, Development Director, SEC
  • Bob Harter, Retired ODNR Division of Wildlife
  • Emily Pidock, Administrative Assistant
  • Nancy Shapiro, Delaware General Health District



Stratford Ecological Center donated 1,498 pounds of produce to PIN.

SEC strengthened relationships and partnerships with PIN and its base, other volunteers in and around Delaware County, the families of these volunteers and visitors to serve a greater need in our own community.

SEC became a model for community involvement.

Created practical educational experiences for students and program participants. Such as, Practical knowledge of growing their own food. How to plan, design, build, plant, maintain and harvest a community service garden. Became more aware of the issues related to food security.

SEC Donated 50 Container Gardens to Area Community Service Groups and organizations.




The biggest thing I gained in 2014 from being the Giving Garden Project Coordinator is a better appreciation and understanding of how many groups and organizations are working to fill the need for food in our community. With a project that addresses hunger relief through local-small scale-sustainable agriculture, the need for many partners is great! Stratford can’t fill the need all on our own! But we can have a big impact by making the thousands of people who visit and participate in on-site programing aware about the need for hunger relief. As well as, by working together as a community using Organic Gardening practices and we can create real change.

In 2015 I plan to use reusable grocery bags for the container gardens instead of the buckets. The buckets required a lot of labor and extra expense. The reusable bags will accomplish the same goal with less labor and expense.



  • Glen Snow of Snow Peak Production created a “Giving Garden” video that was shared with;
    • Friends of Stratford reception, community leaders and donors
    • SEC Board of Directors
    • SEC staff and volunteers
    • SEC Giving Garden presentation

  • Delaware General Health District, Delaware County Hunger Alliance, United Way, Delaware Community Foundation helped SEC Donate 50 Container Gardens to Area community Service groups: Council for Older Adults, Feed program Vineyard Church, Woodward resource center, Andrews House, Mobile Feed Truck
  • SEC highlighted the Giving Garden project in the Nov. 20 – E-News Blast sent to around 4,000 people.
  • SEC highlighted the Giving Garden project on Social Media: Facebook and Twitter.






I truly appreciate the opportunity to work with the North Central Region SARE Program!

Thank you for your support for our community





Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.