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

Help us empower local residents to grow their own food!

Volunteers break ground and plant vegetables at the new Esty Street Community Garden in Ithaca (2017).
Image by Sandy Repp

Volunteers working in the Esty Street community garden

Tomato plants growing in garbage cans, July.
Image by Tom Sulcer

Resilience Garden Kits will prepare people to grow food in containers!

Empowering people to grow their own food!

Ithaca Permaculture Park sign at Conley Park, Ithaca

The Conley Permaculture Park is one site that will receive attention through Solidarity Gardens.

Seed Money to Help People Grow Food

The COVID-19 Pandemic demonstrates the fragility of our food system. Although plenty of food is being produced, there is a bottleneck in distribution. As a result, increasing numbers of local community members are interested in growing their own food in home or community gardens. Cooperative Extension’s home food growing classes now are more popular than ever and are now offered online to meet this need. While classes are reaching record numbers, there are many residents who need additional support to start a garden of their own.

What we will do:

Cooperative Extension has three initiatives to assist people who are food insecure with growing their own food!

Resiliance Garden Kits

These container garden kits are equipped with soil, seeds, and transplants plus growing instructions. Our goal is to distribute 100 containers/buckets through various programs and partners providing food to residents in need. Some of these programs include: food pantries and subsidized housing complexes throughout the county, to families receiving school food deliveries and receiving reduced price CSA shares. The kits provide the first time gardener with an easy way to experience the joy of home grown produce.


Solidarity Gardens

These are gardens in public spaces where vegetables will be grown in raised beds for communal harvest. We are targeting housing sites and public spaces in the City of Ithaca where we will establish raised bed gardens and provide seeds and transplants. Volunteers will help residents learn to garden and share recipes for cooking the harvest. Partner sites include:

  • Conley Permaculture Park
  • Esty Street Neighborhood Garden
  • Floral Avenue Community Garden
  • Ithaca Community Gardens
  • Ithaca Children's Garden
  • Titus Towers

Learn more about this project on FACEBOOK or VOLUNTEER to work at a specific site.


Seed-to-Supper Program

This train-the-trainer program prepares volunteers to teach gardening classes in their own community. Again, residents who are food insecure are targeted for this program. Participants who take the class, receive instruction and the supplies needed to grow their own home garden, as well as cooking instruction to help them make the most of their harvest. 

This year, we have funding to offer the Seed-to-Supper program at 4 training sites: in Dryden, Groton, Danby and downtown Ithaca. With additional funding we hope to include at least 3 more sites. This program is slated to help meet the food growing needs of about 100 residents and their family members.


Funding Needs

These initiatives are offered in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and are not funded by existing grants and contracts that support other programs at CCE-Tompkins. We are seeking the community's help to buy the supplies we need for these programs, including containers, lumber for raised beds, compost and potting soil, seeds and transplants, and to support staff and volunteers who are making these programs happen!  Community support will determine the success of each effort. Please consider making a gift at any level to help increase the food security of our residents in need at this critical time. Thank you for your consideration.

Make A Donation

Use a credit card or PayPal to make a secure contribution to one of the following projects.  If you wish to support ALL of these projects, please choose "SUPPORT GREATEST NEED" below.  

SUPPORT GREATEST NEED [Assign to project where need is greatest]




BY MAIL: You may also send a check 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.

About the Seed Money Fund

Originally established as "Seed Money for the Future" the fund was created in honor of Monika Roth, Agriculture Program Leader, in recognition of her retirement after 40 years of extension programming.  Original donations were 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.  Examples of investments that have enriched our community with Monika's involvement are: Ithaca Children's Garden, local Farmers' Markets, Master Gardener Volunteers, Citizen Pruner Volunteers, Spring Plant Sale, Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, Community Beautification Program, Guide to Farming in New York State publication, Farmland Protection, and more.

Last updated May 7, 2020