Uniting Hands, Growing Community, Planting the Future


WVSU and the HCG worked together to apply for a large grant to expand and sustain the children education component of our mission. In October of 2009, we applied for a $600,000 CYFAR (Children, Youth and Families At Risk) grant to establish SCRATCH: a 5-year long after-school and summer program to teach children from seed to plate to entrepreneurship, sharing the science, nutrition and small business side of urban farming. Although our initial application was unsuccessful, we were strongly encouraged to reapply in 2010. So, with a second hard push, we worked together that fall to make that second application golden. In March of 2011, we were notified that we had been approved. Our WVSU extension agent, Melissa Stewart, devoted countless man hours to both applications. Without her dedication to this project, her knowledge and expertise, and the numerous additional hours needed to adjust and fine-tune everything again over the summer of 2011, our SCRATCH program would never have been possible.

We are eager to begin developing our program later this fall.

Below please find our project abstract, as written within our grant application:

West Virginia State University Extension Service in conjunction with the Huntington Community Gardens have developed the SCRATCH (Sustainable Community Revitalization in Appalachia Through Children’s Hands) Program, an afterschool enrichment program for at-risk youth living in poverty-stricken inner city areas of Huntington. This effort demonstrates our combined commitment to provide the youth hands-on learning opportunities on topics such as basic gardening, nutrition and culinary arts, and entrepreneurial skills.

The proposed project should ameliorate many of these problems by providing an opportunity to engage in recreation outdoors, to grow and prepare fresh, nutritious foods, and to provide the basis for life skills that the children can use in the future. We propose to work with children in grades K-8 who are enrolled in community supported afterschool programs at three different inner-city sites in the Fairfield/Walnut Hills neighborhoods. The children will use the Junior Master Gardener’s curriculum during the first years of the grant to learn growing techniques and nutritional content and implement these skills to produce their own food. After the gardens are established, the curriculum will shift to food preparation, which will provide them with nutritious food and increase their interest in novel and fresh fruits and vegetables. The children will then work on the sustainability of the project whereby they develop a marketable product based on their gardens and prepare it for sale, all under the Made from Scratch label. At the close of the program, children should have developed gardening techniques, food preparation and cooking, and marketing and entrepreneurial skills.