In my last NEN blog I told you about how Pennsylvania Garden (map) got started â€“ from guerrilla garden to official San Francisco Street Park! Well weâ€™re now in our second year, and the larger plants are looking pretty established. Weâ€™re still working on some areas, but when I look around the garden what I realize we need is hardscape improvements. You know â€“ retaining walls, terraces, paths, benches and fences.
That stuff all costs money â€“ and to do them right can take quite a lot. Iâ€™ve spent a lot of my own money making the garden what it is, but I just donâ€™t have thousands more lying around (I wish!) With that in mind, weâ€™ve decided to try and get some grants to fund the garden, and I tasked my volunteers Emily and Josh with writing grant proposals and maintaining a budget for the garden.
To my surprise they agreed, and equipped with the knowledge I gleaned from attending the San Francisco Parks Trust‘s (SFPT) grant writing class this year they have jumped in and have already applied for some funding. They might literally be worth their weight in gold â€“ wait and see!
Where does a person find out about grants they can apply for, you ask? Well the aforementioned grant writing class was a great source of leads. Weâ€™ve also been tipped off to grants available from groups specific to our neighborhood, and through researching grants on a national level. Get your Google on, and make friends with your local neighborhood groups â€“ they can help you.
Most of these grants require you to be a 501(c)3 nonprofit though.Â And at that mountain of paperwork I balked, I confess. Luckily, once again, it was SFPT to the rescue! They will become our fiscal sponsor â€“ any grants will be awarded to them in our name, the granting body gets the tax write-off, and we get the cash. Happy days.
However, this could take some months. In the meantime, we still have stuff that needs to get paid for. One such item is the information kiosk for the front of the garden.Â This will be a metal structure that will house a weatherproof covered corkboard to hold signs that detail garden news, ways to get involved, brochures and dog poop bags.
So with that fundraising goal in mind, we decided to hold a plant sale! All the volunteers met and discussed ideas, and May 1st was chosen as the best day. We all started propagating plants and asking for donations from our friends in the neighborhood, and a frenzy of postering, emailing, watering, potting, and sowing started.
On the day of the sale we had doubts that anyone would show up, but in the end we made $1100 and were so busy helping customers we didnâ€™t get a lunch break! A big success on many levels. It brought our merry band of volunteers closer, it raised cash and awareness for the garden, and it even helped our grant raising efforts: when a granting body sees that a community is behind a project, and that the volunteers have worked to fund it too, they are more likely to give funds as the project is just more likely to succeed. And everyone loves a winner!
So, if getting a garden started seems like too much money and work to you, take my advice: attend the SFPTâ€™s upcoming workshops and see what you can get via grants.
And if you just want to do a little gardening one weekend, I have a regular monthly volunteer day on the first Saturday of each month from 11am-1pm where anyone can drop by and try their hand at gardening â€“ check out my blog and come visit the garden soon! Iâ€™d be happy to show you around.
Annie Shaw is the founder of Pennsylvania Garden in the Potrero Hill neighborhood.