The #green Shorty Awards Campaign was an attempt to find support for school gardens across the US using… twitter. In the process of finding support we found over $1 million in seeds, plants, compost and landscape design services for schools and youth food projects in New Orleans, Portland, Los Angeles, Washington DC and yes, New York. The shortyawards are tonight, and ironically, Alice Waters is in San Francisco presenting in front of the corporate execs of Twitter to expand her “delicious revolution, the @edibleschoolyard. The work of greening schools and kids takes all-hands-on-deck. It will take your hands too.
All projects have similar needs: seeds, plants, compost, landscape design services AND a few tools, staff salaries and a greenhouse or two would be nice. It would be stellar if we could use this “bootstrap-DIY-donorschoose-crowdsourcing” festival to find the funds to launch a platform that supports greening projects year round. That’s where you, the tech crowd come in. We need start-up funds. We need your marketing and tech brains to create a platform that allows schools all over the US to access support as they work to not just green their campuses, but also grow community and take on the childhood obesity good-food-fight.
The Robert Wood Johnson reported last year that obesity-related illnesses would surpass $300 billion dollars a year. Nearly 20% of school-age children are obese. That’s a tragic loss of quality of life for way too many kids. Additionally, British researchers are now linking food additives and preservatives to ADHD, Attention Deficit Disorder. The fast food industry annually spends over 10 billion in marketing to children and the USDA school lunch budget is just under $30 billion. While these problems are staggering in scope and impact, there are solution at hand: kids that grow broccoli, eat broccoli.
School gardens, according to the California Dept. of Education, don’t just get kids outside, they are the only proven method of getting kids to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Gardens build team work skills and 77% of all kids that participate in environmental ed programs do better on tests too. But gardens don’t just grow themselves. Current state education budgets have been slashed. The USDA has offered just $1 million in federal, pilot funds for gardens. Teachers and parents at schools are forced to fend for themselves if they want to effectively fight childhood obesity and get kids outside working to grow better food choices.
We have a seedling of a project on our hands and as “amateurs” we’ve found corporate support for our work. To get past that seedling stage. We’re in your hands. Thank you all who’ve supported us this far. On behalf of school gardens everywhere I look forward to all the help that you can provide.