The Garden Conservancy has launched a new annual initiative, Gardens for Good. This program allows the Conservancy to award “mini-grants” to gardens or organizations that are making a significant impact in their communities through garden-based programming.

James Brayton Hall, President and CEO of the Garden Conservancy, explains that “Gardens for Good is a new program, a small program, and it benefits small gardens and small organizations. But Gardens for Good recognizes that gardens, even small gardens, can have a big impact in the lives of people and in the lives of communities. They can be levers to improve the world in broad and fundamental ways, allowing people access to green spaces and to food sources. Too often gardens can be dismissed because they’re considered ephemeral or just about beauty. I think it’s important to embrace the other things that gardens do for us. That’s why this program was created:  to broaden the thinking about gardens and to recognize that gardens are not only relevant, but indispensable; and that gardens are essential to us, both as individuals and as communities.”

The name “Gardens for Good” suggests garden preservation, as well as gardens as a positive cultural activity, as a means of building a healthy society.

The Garden Conservancy is honored to support the work of the following organizations, each of which has been awarded a $5,000 grant:

  • Gaiety Hollow, Salem, OR
  • The Elizabeth Lawrence Garden House & Garden, Charlotte, NC
  • Midland Gives campaign for the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, Bishopville, SC
  • Project EATS, New York, NY
  • Southside Community Land Trust, Providence, RI
  • The Anne Spencer House & Garden Museum, Lynchburg, VA
  • Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, Shelter Island, NY
  • Walnut Way Conservation Corp., Milwaukee, WI

In addition, the Conservancy awarded a $10,000 grant to the John Fairey Garden, Hempstead, TX, to help the garden recover from the ravages of a severe winter storm in Texas and a $13,000 grant to the Gardens of Alcatraz, San Francisco, CA, to purchase an all-terrain vehicle for the garden’s horticultural staff and volunteers.

The recipients represent a cross-section of gardens and organizations, all nonprofits. Many of them are small organizations with small budgets, some with whom the Garden Conservancy partners in its preservation work, Open Days, or other educational programs. A few are new friends brought to the Conservancy’s attention by its members and partner organizations. In providing these Gardens for Good mini-grants, the Garden Conservancy hopes to also bring attention to them and to the good work they are doing for their communities.

The launch of the Gardens for Good program is also timely; it grew out of a desire to reach out to and support small gardens and garden-related organizations facing challenges of the current pandemic as they did great preservation work and served their communities in many ways. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased awareness of the many benefits of gardens and gardening. James Hall adds, “The best museums take important works of art and make them available to the public. I think that gardens do the same thing. They create beauty and design, cultivate a love of nature, teach us history, and foster understanding of natural processes and seasonal change. And [they build] environmental communities and make the gardens available to the public.”

The first round of grants was made possible in part thanks to the generosity of donors and attendees of the Conservancy’s Virtual Holiday Toast in December 2020.