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Grants offered for workplace food gardens

VERMONT — The Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Community Garden Network, in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, Gardener’s Supply Company and gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi, are offering grants for small business and organizations to establish workplace food gardens for their employees.
The Green Thumbs at Work grants are open to any Vermont business or organization with 100 or fewer employees. The grant award includes $500 for materials, a $200 gift certificate to Gardener’s Supply Company and $1,000 in garden planning support and technical assistance from Charlie Nardozzi and the Vermont Community Garden Network.
The deadline to apply is Friday, Feb. 10.
Now in its fourth year, the Green Thumbs at Work grant program gives employers an additional way to support employee morale and healthy behaviors. Through workplace gardens, employees can have increased access to fresh produce and more opportunities for physical activity and stress reduction. Gardening at work benefits employees across industries and sectors, including manufacturing facilities, natural food cooperatives, social service organizations, engineering firms and others.
Washington Electric Co-op (WEC), a 2015 Green Thumbs at Work grantee, continues to use produce from their garden for shared lunches, at-work tastings and seminars on cooking and nutrition. For Susan Golden, Member Services Supervisor at WEC, gardening at work has sparked a new, healthy passion: “I’m eating healthier, I’m getting out and getting some exercise I wouldn’t normally get, and it has brought something very positive to my life.”
Abel’s Homestead Design employee Jessica Mulligan saw the gardens bring out the best in her team. “We got excited, physically and mentally put ourselves into the creation of the garden,” said Mulligan. “We used our specialties to make the garden a functional place.”
Grant winners are selected based on readiness to develop a workplace garden, including the ability to provide matching funds and in-kind services for garden development, plans for employee participation, and clear articulation of how the garden will help meet employee wellness goals. Employees must be the primary users and beneficiaries of the garden.
The technical assistance provided through the grant program helps each workplace determine the type and size of garden that best meets its needs, and develop strategies to ensure the garden will be successful throughout the 2017 season and for years to come.
Green Thumbs at Work grant winners will be announced Feb. 24.
For more information about Green Thumbs at Work and a link to the online grant application, visit http://vcgn.org/what-we-do/green-thumbs-at-work or call 802-861-4769.
To learn more about Worksite Wellness, visit http://healthvermont.gov/family/fit/worksitewellness.aspx.

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