School Garden Grants Winners: Spring 2011

Slow Food First Coast (SFFC) is proud to announce the winners of the Spring 2011 School Garden Grants. Congratulations to the winners:

  • Sarah Goselin and Lynne Kruse of Hickory Creek Elementary School hickoryCreek01_ws
  • Jacqui Konecny, Daw Mariotti, and Patty Keene of South Woods Elementary School
  • Lee Samuels, Leah Cygan, and Carla Froehlich of Liberty Pines Academy


The SFFC School Gardens Committee received 13 noteworthy applications from across the St. Johns County School District and was very pleased with the quality and originality of the proposals submitted. According to SFFC leader Richard Villadóniga, “As a teacher, I know I work with many creative and talented educators, but I was very impressed by the high caliber of extraordinary applications we received. It made for a most difficult selection process, but in the end, we are confident we decided on the three proposals that will have the greatest positive impact on the students of St. Johns County.”

Samuels was thrilled to be selected, remarking, “Winning the garden grant from Slow Food will have a tremendous impact on our kindergarten students here at LPA. On top of teaching important science concepts like the life cycle of plants, good nutrition, and environmental issues, we can integrate the garden into other facets of our curriculum. The possibilities for learning are endless. We are delighted to have won the grant!” Goselin echoed those sentiments, saying “The Slow Food First Coast grant will provide our students a hands-on opportunity to watch plants grow from seed to seedlings, and ultimately to flowering plants that produce fruits and vegetables. Without this opportunity, our children may not get to experience that sense of accomplishment as they grow their own foods.” Keene agreed, noting, “The children are having a blast playing in the dirt. Little do they know how easy the learning is 'going down'. This makes our job easy and fun to watch as they learn through these very meaningful experiences that the garden activities provide. We know that we are 'planting seeds' that will affect these children in a variety of ways and degrees. They are learning about a healthy respect and responsibility to Mother Earth, a healthier alternative to current food choices, a healthy hobby in which to engage and a sense of community that through cooperative work and play that will produce goodies to share at the end of the day.”

As part of its educational programs, SFFC has focused on the youth of our region, including offering teachers this opportunity to receive a raised bed container garden kit, complete with funds for organic soil and heritage seeds, a guidebook and lesson plans, and mentoring with experienced gardeners to learn about organic farming. In return, winners will plant a school garden this Spring, record their work in a portfolio, and offer their students a taste experience with their harvest, all in an effort to promote a healthier, more sustainable food system and educate children about making more informed food and nutrition choices. More school garden grants will be offered in Fall 2011 for interested educators. Slow Food First Coast is a non-profit organization that promotes a food system based on quality and pleasure, environmental sustainability, and social justice.

If you are interested in being a sponsor for a garden in the next grant, click here for more information!