Youth Activities

Youth led Community Gardens

Youth Activities relates to the MAP Initiative 1: Linking Learning, Health, and Prosperity, specifically to Action 4: Develop a Community-Based Mentoring Program in order to create a sense of physical and social security for the youth within the TPA Neighborhood. There is a serious lack of resources for the youth ages 12 through 22 which is hindering their emotional, social and physical well being. A cost-effective youth activity is community gardens. There are countless examples of how community gardens improve the quality of lives for communities, especially for at risk youth. When the youth take part in gardening, they are literally grounded. As well, participating in a community garden is a great skill building experience and provides opportunity to gain leadership and food growing experience. Note: This initiative is not to be confused with TPANAP Initiative 2 Beautification, Action 5: Community Gardens. While this initiative has a focus on community gardens, it focuses on the mentorship and skill building experience from gardening. Therefore this initiative establishes the steps needed to make community gardens a youth activity. For more information on where and how to set up a community garden please refer to the following initiative. 

Youth Activities

Figure 1- Youth led community garden. Source: Amber Janzen.


The lack of youth activities was an issue raised at the TPA neighborhood association meeting on February 3, 2016. There was concern voiced about loitering, vandalism, and drug use among the youth. Jacqueline Hanoman, the director for the Ross Community Center, also raised the concern for older youth ranging from 12 to 22 who have a harder time finding viable activities within the neighborhood suited to their age bracket. Therefore this initiative is set-up towards this specific age range, but is not exclusive to younger children.


Community gardens are a great outlet for the youth and several cases studies have found this to be extremely effective for their emotional and physical well-being. They also learn how to work together as a team, take leadership roles, mentor younger children and learn valuable entrepreneurship skills that are applied into the workforce.

The overall goal of this initiative is to establish a community garden at the Ross center where the youth will take ownership. As this garden becomes established, the youth can plan for more gardens within backyards and eventually into vacant lots.


The first and most important thing to do is to work with the youth at the Ross Center. It is important to get their input and make them feel a sense of ownership of the project from the beginning. The kids will plan out their garden in a way they desire. To help them on creating the garden- outside volunteers, mentors and resources should be brought in to educate the kids on how to establish a successful community garden and to educate them on the principles of gardening. Indoor planting should be started immediately before spring begins and will be a part of the whole learning process. In the meantime, the Ross center should seek out funding for construction of beds, planting materials, tools and educational materials. Once materials are received and a plan has been set, then construction of the community garden will begin and be completed by mid to late may. The end goal of this initiative is for the kids to replace outside mentors once they have adequate skills and experience to become mentors for newcomers (See: goal of gaining leadership experience) Once the Ross garden is established and there is an adequate amount of experienced youth participants, then begin plans to branch out into the Neighborhood


Jacqueline Hanoman will over see the Ross Center garden, but the initiative itself will initially be led by a volunteer or an intern from Ball State to teach the youth how to garden and among other skills. Hopefully volunteers from different areas of expertise can come in to conduct various workshops such as team building and leadership. The end goal is to have the youth become the leaders and mentors of this initiative.


The initiative would start out at the Ross center and potentially expand into yards and eventually even into vacant lots. Another Ball State student working on the community gardens initiative has created a map indicating the best lots for community gardens in the TPA area. For more information on the best possible locations refer to TPANAP Initiative 2 Beautification, Action 5: Community Gardens.

Case Studies:

Case Study 1: Green Guerillas

Figure 2- Green Guerrillas. Source:

Green Guerrillas is based out of New York city and has various programs that focus on sustainable community gardens. Their Youth Tillers program specifically focuses on teenagers where they are recruited, trained and mentored on growing community gardens. These teens are then offered positions where they educate other kids on where their food comes from and how to grow their own food. They go beyond gardening and engage in public art where they create murals about gardening.

Green Guerrillas is a perfect example of how urban gardening is successful for engaging youth. Their youth tillers program is what this initiative strives to implement. Not only do the teens create urban gardens, but they become leaders and teachers to other kids who want to learn about urban gardens.

Case Study 2: Growing Leaders, Growing Change: Youth and Urban Agriculture

This booklet is an installment of WHY’S going beyond Emergency Service Series and is a model program guide for youth led community gardens. This guide makes the case as to why community gardens are beneficial for youth as they state “Youth-centered urban agriculture projects promote community food security, sustainability, and serve as gateways to employment opportunities for at-risk youth in a positive, friendly and productive atmosphere” which is the exact purpose of this initiative. To accompany their argument, the guide provides 5 case studies of youth led urban farms around the United States. All five cases focus on youth empowerment through community gardens, but are uniquely suited to the social and physical environment of the community.



Below are potential grants that this initiative can apply for. The best way to apply for these grants is to follow the links provided below, read the requirements, and do what is necessary to apply. Contact information is available on the website if any questions on the application process occur.

Home Depot Foundation
“Grants, up to $5,000, are available to IRS-registered 501c designated organizations and tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community. Grants are given in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services.”

I Can Grow Youth Garden Award
“The Youth Garden Award supports urban school and community gardens in cities across the United States. The awards will be presented to established or start-up programs that demonstrate well-developed and staffed plans for a youth-centered educational program, with emphasis on nutrition and food production, environmental awareness, social responsibility, and scholastic integration. Winners will get up to 500 vegetable and herb plants from Burpee Home Gardens, as well as $2,500 in garden supplies, on-site garden layout and installation assistance, Daniels Plant Food, and a Flip camera to document their progress.”

Healthy Sprouts Award 
“These awards support school and youth garden programs that teach about nutrition and the issue of hunger in the United States. Recipients receive gift certificates from Gardener’s Supply Company (the top 5 receive a $500 certificate and 15 more receive a $200 certificate), NGA’s Eat a Rainbow Kit, seeds, and supporting literature”

Annie’s Grants for Gardens 
“Annie’s offers a limited number of small grants to community gardens, school gardens, and other educational programs that connect children directly to gardening. These funds may be used to buy gardening tools, seeds, or other gardening supplies.”

Hooked on Hydroponics Awards
“Classroom hydroponics offers eager students loads of opportunities to explore concepts across the curriculum, from biology to economics. Thirty-six winning programs receive a compact hydroponics package that includes everything required to grow plants successfully indoors. Sponsored by The Grow Store in conjunction with”

Shade Structure Grant Program
To assist organizations in creating sun-safe outdoor areas, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has announced the availability of grant applications for its Shade Structure Program. Any U.S. nonprofit organization or educational institution may apply for permanent shade structures for outdoor areas not protected from the sun, such as playgrounds, pools, and eating areas.

My Hometown Helper
“Hamburger Helper” grant program for community projects sponsored by a municipal or civic 501(c)4 organization or public school. Grants up to $15,000.