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Local Partners To Host Community Gardening Celebration On Earth Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- City of Columbus and Franklin County officials will join ScottsMiracle-Gro, community partners, volunteers and local residents at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on Earth Day ( April 22) to celebrate and honor Columbus community gardens.

With over 250 community gardens within city limits, Columbus has more community gardens per capita than any other metropolitan area. Each site is unique, but all focus on community engagement, beautification, food security, and multiculturalism. The goal of the event is to celebrate this accomplishment and engage residents by educating them on the many benefits of community gardening.

"Community gardens do an exceptional job filling a void in neighborhoods," said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. "Where abandoned houses once stood, gardens are taking root adding beauty and recreational space for neighbors to gather together."

This event marks the third year for the City of Columbus/Franklin County Community Garden Grant Program and the 10th year of The ScottsMiracle-Gro Community Garden Academy Fund at The Columbus Foundation.

The City of Columbus/Franklin County Community Garden Grants program is a collaborative approach to recognizing the many benefits of community gardens, supporting existing gardens in the City and throughout the County and encouraging the creation of new ones. Applications for funding for the 2013 growing season were accepted February 15 through March 1, 2013 and during today's event, officials will announce funding for 42 qualifying gardens.

In addition, more than 100 gardens and green spaces have been impacted by The ScottsMiracle-Gro Community Garden Academy Fund at The Columbus Foundation. Through this fund, local organizations receive monetary support, in-kind product donation and educational opportunities through Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The grants support both existing and new gardens, ranging from traditional community gardens to nontraditional gardens, including farmers' markets, children's gardens, therapy gardens, and beautification efforts.

"It's been an honor to be a part of the gardening community in central Ohio," said Su Lok, director of Corporate and Community Partnerships, ScottsMiracle-Gro. "Through strong local partnerships, we have been able to help residents enjoy the many benefits that come from the garden."

Community gardens in Columbus have grown from a dozen in 2000 to more than 250 in just 13 years. Over 40,000 pounds of fresh produce is donated each year from Columbus community gardens.

"Healthy families come from healthy communities," said Commissioner John O'Grady. " Franklin County is committed to addressing the rising rates of childhood obesity in our community and the related health ailments overweight children suffer. Supporting community gardens is an excellent way in which to accomplish our goals of getting kids active and providing them with healthier foods."

All community gardeners and general public are invited to attend. Activities will include tours of the community garden campus, gardening demonstrations and giveaways, information booths and resources, hands-on activities for children, interactive activities, local food trucks serving lunch and product pick-ups for grant recipients.

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