Saturday, December 10th

Garden-In-A-Box Program


Garden-in-a-Box Program

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Helping Low-Income Families
"Grow Their Own"

What is Garden-in-a-Box?
Started in 2008, Garden-in-a-Box is a program created by the Minnesota State Horticultural Society to provide a gardening opportunity for low-income families and children to grow their own vegetables. This year we are working with nonprofit organizations in the Twin Cities, Duluth and other outstate areas. The boxes will reside at nonprofit and community organizations, childcare centers, community centers, schools, and in some cases, at the homes of the families. This gardening program will provide resources and knowledge for a successful gardening experience to improve the lives of individuals and families and in turn the broader community for a lifetime.

What is provided to low-income families?
Families sponsored through nonprofit organizations will begin getting complete garden kits for growing vegetables starting in May. All the materials needed to start a small space container garden will be donated at no cost to the participants:

  1. 3’x4’ polypropylene fabric box with a bottom. The box is 9" deep.
  2. Enough soil to fill the box (9 cubic feet).
  3. A selection of vegetable plants suited for small space garden.
  4. Basic gardening classes.

How does an eligible nonprofit service organization apply to participate in Garden-in-a-Box?
For the growing season of 2016, we are partnering with nonprofit service organizations that serve low income individuals and families. The nonprofit serves as the sponsoring organization to identify and coordinate the activities of the gardeners. Our program recipients receive a free garden kit and classes for the project supervisor /garden coordinator.   Your organization can determine if they want to keep the boxes collectively on your property or manage the program by send the boxes home with families. In either case, we ask that the organization play an active role in monitoring the garden’s success. The nonprofits are to provide instruction and communication with the gardeners and report back to the Horticultural Society.

Application forms for the 2016 growing season are closed.  To submit a request for our 2017 waitlist, click here

For more information, contact giab@northerngardener.org or call 651-643-3601.

How is the program funded?

Garden-in-a-Box is funded through a variety of grants, donations from the community and MSHS members, affiliated garden clubs and plant and horticultural societies, as well as partnerships with local businesses. With these generous donations, we are able to provide boxes to interested families and provide education throughout the growing season.

How you can help
If you would like to contribute financially to the success of this program for 2016, please click here to contribute. You can help low-income families grow their own fresh produce. $100 would set up a family with a Garden-in-a-Box, soil, and vegetable plants to supplement their diet with fresh, home-grown veggies, but any amount is appreciated. 

What grows well in a small space garden?
Click here for ideas about which cultivars will grow best in a small space garden like this one.




Click here to view articles about the Garden-in-a-Box Program.


Thanks to the following partners: 

CreekSide Soils, Farmer Seed and Nursery, My Easy Growin, Sustane and Wagners Greenhouses.

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   sustanenaturalfert-3colorLogoA-web       Wagners-web

2016 Program Funded in Part by:

Cargill Foundation

Gannett Foundation

Health Partners' yumPower

St. Paul Garden Club

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MSHS Spotlight - Garden-in-a-Box

Frost Lake Elementary Families- Known as “Frost Lake Learning Gardens”

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When Cheri Romero, a teaching assistant who doubles as a Master Gardener, Robin Landowski - Frost Lake’s Family Liason, and translators along with the backing of Principal Stacey Kadrmas come together, the dream of a schoolyard garden can happen. This undertaking has taken a little struggle and given a great joyful learning experience.

“It seems to be in the right place in the full sun between the playground and the school. The kids will see it right outside the doors. The spring rains came at the right time, even though it was flooding the day we planted. It turned out alright!” This is the kind of positive attitude it takes to start a schoolyard garden with a little help from the Garden-in-a Box Program at the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. The program with its many funders and quality vendors supplied 3’ x 4’ x 9” poly material boxes, weed free soil, specially selected healthy vegetable plants and some fencing to keep the critters out. The rest of the effort comes from willing spouses and neighbor gardeners that may speak different languages but have one goal. The garden boxes and their produce will be shared by 16 students and their families with the classmates at Frost Lake Elementary in St Paul.

Vandals struck but that did not deter the gardening group. Possibly the resolve to build this garden got stronger. School employees, local law enforcement and neighbors have more eyes on the gardens now. They shared recipe ideas and made new friends. Language barriers including Karen, a Burmese dialect, are part of everyday life for this school but with enough time and resolve this too can be managed. Forms and labels are being translated and the students can help with communication. Cheri Romero says, “ The best part of Garden-in-a-Box program is making new connections with our families, strengthening our community all while enjoying the basics of good food.

--Cindy Gilbert

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