Garden-In-A-Box Program


Garden-in-a-Box Program

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Helping Low-Income Families & Schoolchildren
"Grow Their Own"


What is Garden-in-a-Box?

Started in 2008, Garden-in-a-Box is a program created by the Minnesota State Horticultural Society to provide gardening opportunity for low-income families and school to growing their own vegetables. This year we are working with nonprofit organizations and schools with summer gardening programs in the Twin Cities, Duluth and St. Cloud and other outstate areas. The boxes will reside at nonprofit organizations, in schools and in some cases, at the homes of students. This gardening program will provide resources and knowledge for a successful gardening experience to improve the lives of individuals and families and in turn the broader community for a lifetime.

What is provided to low-income families?

Non profit organizations and schools will begin getting complete garden kits for growing vegetables starting in May. All the materials needed to start a small space raised container garden will be donated at no cost to the nonprofit service organizations and eligible schools.

  1. 3’x4’ polypropylene fabric box with a bottom. The box is 12" deep.
  2. Enough soil to fill the box (12 cubic feet).
  3. A selection of vegetable plants and seeds suited for small space garden.

What grows well in a small space garden?

Click here for ideas about which cultivars will grow best in a small space garden like this one.

How is it funded?

Garden-in-a-Box is funded through a variety of grants, donations from the community and MSHS members, affiliated garden clubs and plant and horticultural societies, as well as partnerships with local businesses. With these generous donations, we are able to provide the greatest number of boxes to interested families and individuals.

How you can help

If you would like to contribute financially to the success of this program for 2014, please click here to contribute. You can help low-income families grow their own fresh produce. $100 would set up a family with a Garden-in-a-Box, soil, and vegetable plants to supplement their diet with fresh, home-grown veggies, but any amount is appreciated. 

All of our boxes have been placed for 2014. If your organization is interested in participating in 2015, please click on link below for the resource packet to find out more about the program.

How does an eligible school or nonprofit service organization apply to participate in Garden-in-a-Box?

 For the growing season of 2014, we are partnering with nonprofit service organizations that serve low income individuals and families. The nonprofit serves as the sponsoring organization to identify and coordinate the activities of the gardeners. We are also partnering with schools that have summer programs and can fully utilize the growing season. The schools we are targeting have greater than 50% of their students have reduced or free lunch. .Our program recipients receive a free garden kit and a class for the project supervisor /garden coordinator.   Your organization can determine if they want to keep the boxes collectively on your property or manage the program by send the boxes home with families. In either case, we ask that the school play an active role in monitoring the garden’s success. The schools and nonprofits are to provide instruction and communication with the gardeners and report back to the Horticultural Society.

if you are interested in partnering with the Horticultural Society and our Garden-in-a-Box program, please contact our office. To participate or for more information, click here for the Resource Packet.

Contact Cindy Gilbert email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or call 651-643-3601 ext. 202

Garden-in-a-Box Program Coordinator

Thanks to the following partners: 

CreekSide Soils, Farmer Seed and Nursery, My Easy Growin, Sustane and Wagners Greenhouses.

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2014 Program Funded in Part by: 

Gannett Foundation / KARE 11

Health Partners' yumPower

Land O'Lakes, Inc.

Saint Paul Garden Club

Duluth Superior Community Foundation, Wetherby Fund

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MSHS Spotlight - Garden-in-a-Box

Frost Lake Elementary Families- Known as “Frost Lake Learning Gardens”

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When Cheri Romero, a teaching assistant who doubles as a Master Gardener, Robin Landowski - Frost Lake’s Family Liason, and translators along with the backing of Principal Stacey Kadrmas come together, the dream of a schoolyard garden can happen. This undertaking has taken a little struggle and given a great joyful learning experience.

“It seems to be in the right place in the full sun between the playground and the school. The kids will see it right outside the doors. The spring rains came at the right time, even though it was flooding the day we planted. It turned out alright!” This is the kind of positive attitude it takes to start a schoolyard garden with a little help from the Garden-in-a Box Program at the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. The program with its many funders and quality vendors supplied 3’ x 4’ x 9” poly material boxes, weed free soil, specially selected healthy vegetable plants and some fencing to keep the critters out. The rest of the effort comes from willing spouses and neighbor gardeners that may speak different languages but have one goal. The garden boxes and their produce will be shared by 16 students and their families with the classmates at Frost Lake Elementary in St Paul.

Vandals struck but that did not deter the gardening group. Possibly the resolve to build this garden got stronger. School employees, local law enforcement and neighbors have more eyes on the gardens now. They shared recipe ideas and made new friends. Language barriers including Karen, a Burmese dialect, are part of everyday life for this school but with enough time and resolve this too can be managed. Forms and labels are being translated and the students can help with communication. Cheri Romero says, “ The best part of Garden-in-a-Box program is making new connections with our families, strengthening our community all while enjoying the basics of good food.

--Cindy Gilbert


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