The Environmental Center Awards Over $23k to Central Oregon Schools and Organizations for Learning Gardens

The Environmental Center Awards Over $23k to Central Oregon Schools and Organizations for Learning Gardens

PublIshed on Mar 11, 2023

The next time you pass by your local school or youth center, take a look to see if they have a garden on site. If they do, or you see signs of an emerging garden project, chances are they are among the schools assisted by The Environmental Center’s Garden for Every School Program. This school year, The Environmental Center is pleased to award $23,000 to 17 schools and organizations to fund a variety of school garden projects across Central Oregon. Projects range from building a new outdoor garden installation at a juvenile detention facility, to reviving multiple public school outdoor garden classrooms, as well as classroom projects like a Mayan plant and food studies project for emergent multilingual learners.

“In our 6th year of running an annual small grant program for garden based projects with youth, we’re continuing to see a trend of more schools building or improving school garden spaces each year. For some schools it’s to increase outdoor hands-on STEM opportunities, others seek culturally relevant ways to engage their students and families, and some see the therapeutic potential of gardens and actively utilize them for SEL (social emotional learning) outcomes,” says Denise Rowcroft, Garden For Every School Program Manager. “Whatever their goals, we’re excited to support schools that engage in food and garden based learning in the ways that are best for them.”

Recipient schools and organizations will collectively serve over 2,000 youth in school garden projects in Sunriver, Bend, Redmond, Powell Butte, Madras and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Schools and youth organizations include: Central Christian School, Deschutes County Juvenile Justice Center (via COIC), Deschutes Children’s Foundation, Desert Sky Montessori School, Ensworth Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, Jefferson County Middle School, Jewell Elementary School, Sprouts Montessori Children’s House, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, Three Rivers School, Tom McCall Elementary School, Westside Village Magnet School, Warm Springs K-8 Academy & Warm Springs Early Childhood Education Center (via OSU Extension Warm Springs). An additional school in Redmond is pending school district approval.

This year the Rotary Club of Greater Bend partnered to provide an additional $3,000 of funding across two projects, Deschutes Detention Center Peace Garden and Desert Sky Montessori’s School Garden. “The Rotary Club of Greater Bend Environmental Committee is excited to work with the Environmental Center’s efforts. Rotary has always been supportive of youth and education, and now gardens are a great practical educational opportunity that also brings in dimensions like healthy food, self-sufficiency, a healthy environment, STEM topics, and caretaking.” says Rebecca Kauffman, Director of Environmental & Sustainability at the Rotary Club of Greater Bend. “We look forward to working with our grant awardees, getting our hands dirty again along-side the Desert Sky Montessori parents and students as well as with the Deschutes County Juvenile Detention Center for success with their gardens.”

Since 2017 The Environmental Center has raised and awarded over $84,000 to support local schools and community organizations in their garden-based learning efforts. These garden grants would not be possible without the support of individual donors, local and regional businesses, foundations and non-profit organizations. Thanks to support from all of our Garden for Every School supporters: Bend Urban Gardens, Central Electric Cooperative, Inc., Central Oregon Beekeeping Association, Central Oregon Health Council, Clabough Foundation, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, El Sancho, Ford Family Foundation, Johnson Ohana Foundation, Mt Bachelor, New Sun Energy, Ohana Salsa, Oregon Department of Education Farm to Child Program, Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Network, Pacific Power Foundation, Rosso Family Foundation, Saginaw Sunset, Savory Spice Shop, Somewhere That’s Green and Washington Trust Bank. If you would like to contribute to the school garden grant fund to help fund even more school garden projects, please contact Denise Rowcroft at


About A Garden for Every School:

The Environmental Center’s Garden for Every School program exists to connect youth to nature through food. We do this through garden and food based education in the classroom, cafeteria, school gardens and field trips. We support youth organizations, schools and districts with annual garden grants and on-going technical assistance. We gather educators through our Garden Educator Network school garden tours and workshops. Finally, we operate our on-site school demonstration garden, the Kansas Avenue Learning Garden. Learn more at

About The Environmental Center:

The Environmental Center’s mission is to embed sustainability into daily life in Central Oregon. As a regional place for environmental education, engagement, and action, we are leaders in shaping a healthy future for people and the planet. Our programs and advocacy efforts focus on building community connections, educating students, revolutionizing energy, and rethinking waste. Learn more at

The Bend Chamber is actively supported by these Signature Investors

Small Business



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.