Skip to main content

Apply for SRICD's People's Garden Grant

Developing You Project & Applying for Funding Informational Packet

This document is intended for individuals/organizations applying for a grant for the first time. The document will provide you with general information about grant applications and specific requirements to think about when applying to the People’s Garden Project.

What is the People’s Garden Project?

Each of the Rhode Island Conservation Districts (Eastern, Southern, and Northern) is seeking communities and organizations in urban, suburban, or rural areas to install community gardens or high tunnels and maintain them for a minimum of 18 months (gardens) or 36 months (high tunnels). This project is funded by an agreement between the RI State Conservation Committee (RISCC) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS). Funding can be spent on items such as tools, soil, seed, fertilizer, soil additives, irrigation materials, garden materials, lumber, high tunnels, pollinator plants, etc. Although funding cannot be used to maintain existing gardens, it may be used to create new garden beds at a site where other gardens already exist. An existing garden is defined as one that produced produce for human consumption during the previous year’s growing season.

Brainstorming Your Project:

There are many ideas, goals, and visions you might have for your community or community garden. This section will help you decide your garden project.

  1. Are you seeking to start a community garden or expand a current community garden?
  2. Identify your target audience/community members.
    1. Is there a waitlist to have a space at the community garden? Is there accessibility to all community members who wish to participate in the garden? Are you looking to bring students and their families into the garden?
  3. Determining your long-term and short term goals for your community.
    1. What are some needs of your community? What would be the most beneficial aspect that they would utilize within the community garden? Do the target community members want shared garden space or individual plots of their own? Would the surrounding community, not growing in the garden, benefit from specific access to excess fruits and vegetables produced?

Project Planning:

Once you have a vision for your community garden or garden expansion it is time to start planning the logistics and feasibility of your project.

  1.  Location & Space:
    1. For starting a community garden, do you have a location in mind? Are you/your organization or community able to lease or buy the land for the community garden space? Keep in mind for the People’s Garden Project you must have and maintain control of the land for the duration of the Project, either by leasing, partner agreement or owning. You must have a location secured when you apply for the People’s Garden Project.
    2. For a garden expansion, think about what your community needs and goals are. Identify how much space you have to expand the garden and what aspects are most important for the expansion. Do you have enough space for what your goals are?
  2. Timeline:
    1. Identify what the tasks you will need to complete to achieve the short-term andlong-term goals developed for the community garden.
      1. What tasks will need to be completed first, second, third and so on?
      2. Will you need partner collaboration? What community outreach will need to be completed? Who will assist in the planning and implementation of the project?
  3. Identify your project completion date and how long each of these tasks will take.
    1. Work backwards from there to set up your own timeline of when you will need to complete each task. Keep in mind that the People’s Garden Project will allow 18 months to complete a garden project and 36 month if you include a high tunnel within the project.
  4. Design:
    1. Once you have a site and timeline, it is time to design the vision you have for your garden. Having a rough sketch of your plans for the space is a great way to make sure you are staying realistic to your space and utilising the space for the project goals. A general design of the community garden will also help identify the materials you will need for the project to start developing your budget.

Developing a Project Budget:

You have goals, a project plan/timeline, location/space, and a general design layout of the community garden project. You are ready to begin drafting a project budget. It is advised to use software like Excel or Google Docs to help you organize and edit the budget easily.

  1. Make a list of any supplies you will need for the construction aspect of your garden project. It is helpful to go back to your garden design and to see dimensions of some of the constructed materials that you are planning on building to know dimensions for lumber, supplies, etc. needed.
  2. Add additional materials you will need to assist in the garden construction (gloves, nails, tools, etc.)
  3. Review your project tasks and add other materials needed to complete any tasks or goals for the project.
  4. Research all the items on the list and identify cost, how, where and from whom the items will be purchased. Don’t forget to include tax. Think about rounding up some items to give you a little extra room in your budget overall incase costs of an item change between when you develop your budget and purchasing those items.
  5. Add up/sum up the total costs of all items. Reflect on the total amount you have budgeted for.

The People’s Garden Project

  1. Think about partner contributions and donations. Will anything on the list of materials needed to be purchased or donated by another individual, partner, or organization? If so, take those materials out of your budget for requested funds and put this information aside to review when estimating match for the project.
  2. Optional Step: Group materials into sections such as, “Lumber”, “Soil, Mulch, & Compost”, “tools” “Seedings & plants”, etc. and add up the sum of the materials in each group.
  3. Total the entire costs of the materials needed for the project.
  4. Review the total costs. Check to make sure you can apply for the amount of fundingneeded for materials to accomplish the project.
    1. Review any funding requirements in the People’s Garden RFP and FAQ andmake sure you are meeting those requirements.
    2. Are you over your budget? You might have to go back through your projectplans, and list of materials to either decide not to get something for the project or see if you can get that material from a partner or donation to count as match instead of purchasing it through the funding of the People’s Garden Project.

Estimating Match:

The People’s Garden Project Match is the amount, calculated by cash or in-kind contributions, including donations, additional grant funding, labor, or additional purchases provided/associated with the project separate from the requested funding from a grant or funding source. Cash match or in-kind match is NOT additional reimbursements or funding costs received by the grant or funding source. It is provided to the project as a separate supporting source. Match shares project costs and promotes sustainability of projects and programs outside of the grant or funding source. Keep in mind every grant’s match requirements might be different.

People’s Garden Project match requires cash or in-kind contributions of a $1:$1 ratio - meaning for every $1 of funding requested, the applicant must provide $1 of match contributions to the project. In-kind match contributions can be labor costs from staff time or volunteer time, either calculated at an individual's rate of pay or the current volunteer rate. Cash match is additional purchases to support the project. Both cash and in-kind match for the People's Garden Project CAN NOT be supported by federal funds. Additional match provided to the project over the required amount will not be reimbursed for the difference. Match for a project should be properly documented and tracked. A documentation template for Match tracking and submission will be provided to grantees.

  1. When calculating match for your project it is advised to use a software like Excel or Google Docs to help you organize and edit the calculated match easily.
  2. Review any materials that were set aside when making the budget that was identified as partner assistance or donations (cash match) and add those to the match list.
    1. Identify additional staff and volunteer time (in-kind match) that will be used to complete the project. Think about the tasks you identified, the time it would take to accomplish those tasks, and who (staff or volunteers) would be implementing those tasks. Calculate the time either at the current federal volunteer rate or the staff pay rate.
    2. Calculate the cash and in-kind contributions to the project.
    3. Review the total match of cash and in-kind and make sure that the amount of matchmeets the required match ($1:$1 ratio). If the total match does not meet the required amount for the People’s Garden Project you must revisit the project budget and match calculations to meet this requirement.

Grant Writing:

Once you have thoroughly thought through the project and developed a project plan, budget, and match you are ready to write your grant application/project proposal to the People’s Garden Project. For the People’s Garden Project you can either write your own proposal or fill out the application. If you chose to write your own proposal you MUST provide the information required in the application. Please use the application template as a guide to writing your application/proposal and review the proposal example provided below.

People's Garden 2023 Application.pdf