National Recreation and Park Association and Darden Foundation Sow Seeds of Sustainability

Grant program will enable low-income families to receive fresh, local produce harvested from local community gardens
May 9, 2014 12:45 PM ET
Press Release

May 9, 2014 /3BL Media/ - The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation are partnering on the Grow Your Park grant program to fund community garden projects in 15 communities.  The community gardens will specifically benefit low-income community members providing fresh, local produce that they can grow on their own at low- to no-cost. Volunteers will also tend plots and donate produce to those in need.  This is an expansion of the 2013 Grow Your Park program that donated more than 3,000 pounds of produce grown in nine community garden sites.

Grow Your Park grants will also include outreach on the benefits of gardening. Mobile “truck gardens,” which are unique traveling educational gardens, will visit local park, recreation and community centers to further equip members of the community with information about sustainability and healthy foods through gardening.  

“For some, not knowing if they can put food on the table, let alone it being healthy, is a constant worry,” said Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of NRPA. “Through community gardening, you can take some of that worry away by giving people access to the appropriate resources and inspiring them to explore agriculture in a way they may never have before. We are proud to work with the Darden Foundation to bring the joys and benefits of community gardens to the people that need it most.”

Community gardens offer benefits well beyond the production of nutritious foods. They promote healthy lifestyles, connect people to nature and generate an appreciation for the environment. They cultivate community ties and social connections while promoting a spirit of giving and strengthen self-sufficiency for many.  The entire process from planting to harvesting helps create a more active, engaged and healthy community.  

“The Grow Your Park grant program and its recipients embody our commitment to give back to local communities, preserve our planet’s natural resources and serve food to those in need,” said Stephanie Ghertner, director of the Darden Foundation. “Food banks and other organizations in communities across the country benefit from the fresh produce and educational opportunities community gardens provide.”

The 15 Grow Your Park grantee communities are:

  • Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust —Los Angeles, CA
  • Friends of the National Arboretum —Washington, DC
  • City of North Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department —North Lauderdale, FL
  • City of North Miami — North Miami, FL
  • West Atlanta Watershed Alliance Inc. —Atlanta, GA
  • City of Boise, Department of Parks and Recreation —Boise, ID
  • Baltimore City Recreation and Parks —Baltimore, MD
  • Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission —Flint, MI
  • City of Las Cruces DBA Parks and Recreation Department —Las Cruces, NM
  • Riverbank State Park —New York, NY
  • Columbus Recreation and Parks Department —Columbus, OH
  • City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department —Austin, TX
  • Houston Parks and Recreation Department —Houston, TX
  • Seattle Parks and Recreation —Seattle, WA
  • GROW Milwaukee —Milwaukee, WI

Community parks and recreation play an important role in the planning, development and promotion of community gardens as a way to improve health and wellness, support conservation and environmental sustainability efforts, revitalize neighborhoods and better connect communities.  For more information about the Grow Your Park grant program visit,

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of 40,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

The Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation is the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants, Inc. The Darden Foundation’s mission is to maintain a spirit of service and community engagement as defining characteristics of Darden’s family of restaurants – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House. Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $71 million in grants to leading nonprofit organizations that align with its mission and community priorities: Recipe for Success®, Preservation of Natural Resources and Good Neighbor grants. Through the Darden Harvest program, Darden Restaurants has also donated more than 66 million pounds of food to hunger relief agencies across the U.S. and Canada. In 2011, the Darden Foundation introduced the Restaurant Community Grants program that is dedicated to supporting local nonprofit organizations in the hundreds of communities Darden and serves. For more information, please visit