sprouting seed with money in the background, and text "Seed Money to help people grow food"

Helping people with food insecurity grow their own fruits & vegetables!

Seed Money Fund for Growing Food

Huge Interest in Home Gardening Inspires New CCE Outreach Efforts

(ITHACA, NY – May 6, 2020) The CoVid-19 Pandemic has inspired a surge of interest among local residents in growing their own food in home or community gardens.Cooperative Extension’s popular home food growing classes, now offered online, draw from 2 to 5 times as many participants as when they previously were offered in-person, and demand for them remains high. While classes are reaching record numbers however, there are many residents who need additional support – in the form of gardening materials and group or individual instruction -- to start and maintain successful food gardens of their own.

Gardening and Nutrition program educators at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County have designed three related outreach efforts that will help equip people with food insecurity to grow their own produce, and each builds upon work CCE-Tompkins has been doing in the community. These include container gardening kits, community garden expansion and support, and the addition of 3 new sites to CCE’s existing Seed-to-Supper gardener training program for this 2020 growing season.

“Resilience Gardens” are free container gardening kits that come with soil, seeds, veggie transplants and growing instructions. The goal is to distribute 100 kits through programs and partners that provide food to residents in need. These include people who use food pantries or who live in subsidized housing complexes in Tompkins County, and families that receive school food deliveries or reduced-price CSA shares. The kits are designed to provide first time gardeners with an easy way to acquire fresh produce and to experience the success and satisfaction of growing it at home themselves. Container gardening classes are offered annually to the public by CCE-Tompkins staff and to participants in nutrition classes for families with limited incomes.

“Solidarity Gardens” are new or existing gardens in public spaces where vegetables will be grown in raised beds for communal harvest. This effort targets housing sites and public spaces in the City of Ithaca where CCE will establish or renew raised bed gardens and provide seeds and transplants. Volunteers will help residents learn to garden and share recipes for cooking their harvest. Partner sites include Conley Permaculture Park (next to the Sciencenter), Esty Street Neighborhood Garden, Floral Avenue Community Garden, Ithaca Community Gardens, Ithaca Children's Garden and a proposed new site at Titus Towers.CCE-Tompkins was an active partner in establishing the existing gardens.Prospective volunteers for this project may learn more on Facebook and may volunteer online to work at a specific garden site.

“Seed-to-Supper” is a train-the-trainer program that prepares volunteers to teach gardening classes in their own communities. Again, residents who have food insecurity are targeted for the program. Both the Seed-to-Supper trainees and the community members who they work with receive instruction and the supplies they need to grow their own home gardens, as well as cooking instruction to help them make the most of their harvest. For 2020, CCE has funds to support the Seed-to-Supper program at 4 training sites: in Dryden, Groton, Danby and downtown Ithaca. This program is expected to help meet the food growing needs of about 100 residents and their family members. Funds are needed to expand the program to at least 3 additional sites. Seed-to-Supper was first offered here in 2016 through a partnership of CCE and Cornell’s Garden Based Learning program.To date, almost 300 residents have been part of the program at sites across Tompkins County. [Read a 2018 Annual Report article about the Seed-to-Supper Program]

These initiatives are proposed by CCE-Tompkins in response to the CoVid-19 outbreak and are not funded by existing grants and contracts that support current projects. A fundraising drive, “Seed Money to Help People Grow Food” asks for the community's help to purchase supplies including containers, lumber for raised beds, compost and potting soil, seeds and transplants; and to support the staff and volunteers who will build out the sites and train residents to garden. 

To use a credit card or PayPal to make a secure donation to a specific effort or the area of greatest need, please visit: http://ccetompkins.org/seed-money . Checks also may be sent by mail, payable to CCETC with "Seed Money" and a particular project in the memo line, to CCE-Tompkins, 615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca NY 14850.

Background: Originally established in 2018 as "Seed Money for the Future", the fund was created in honor of Monika Roth, Agriculture Program Leader, on her retirement after 40 years of service to CCE-Tompkins and the community. It is intended to continue her legacy of innovative agriculture and horticulture programs and to support new initiatives that address agriculture, gardening and local foods needs in our community.

[Read a 2018 Annual Report article on the original "Seed Money" fund honoring Monika Roth.]

For more information please visit http://ccetompkins.org/seed-money or contact Graham Savio, Agriculture Program Leader at (607) 272-2292 ext 159 or gs695@cornell.edu.



Graham Savio
Agriculture & Horticulture Issue Leader
(607) 272-2292 ext 159

Last updated December 1, 2022