Youth Garden FAQ

Find the answers to frequently asked questions about our Youth Garden Program here:


Who does Gateway Greening support through the Kids Garden Fresh Grant?

Gateway Greening Inc. (GGI) supports youth gardens that focus on educating youth through garden-based curricula in a variety of subjects for all ages. A typical youth garden is run in partnership with a traditional school by teachers, staff, parents and volunteers. However, other types of groups such as parent teacher organizations, church groups, childcare providers, after school programs, and not-for-profit organizations that facilitate educational garden activities are also eligible to apply.

What types of organizations are eligible?

  • A youth-focused program serving children up to age 19;
  • A licensed child care facilities; or,
  • A public, private or independent school

Organizations must be located in St. Louis City or St. Louis County.

Process & Timeline

What is your timeline for awarding a garden grant?

Grant applications are available on August 1 and are due on October 17.

During late winter, Gateway Greening employees and Master Gardener volunteers schedule a site visit and evaluate potential garden projects. This is a critical time for potential gardens to get all of the people who will support the project together so that the evaluation team can learn about the group, their roles and responsibilities in the garden project, and how the garden will be integrated into the youth organization or school.

Program Information

What type of support will the garden receive if we are awarded?

GGI does not award monies. The initial support a garden receives is start up materials, which can include:

  • Raised beds including soil
  • Compost and mulch
  • Garden tools
  • Season extension items, such as materials for hoop houses and cold frames
  • Produce scale
  • Garden Sign
  • Curricula or gardening books

Gateway Greening also provides ongoing support including access to:

  • A professional development series aimed at educators with a variety of gardening skills held in June
  • Gateway Greening’s education library
  • Occasional volunteer group support
  • Free mulch delivery through St. Louis Forestry department (for city sites only)
  • Opportunity to receive heavily discounted ornamentals during the Plant Sale at the Gateway Greening Spring Festival
  • Ongoing technical support through garden site visits from Gateway Greening
  • Access to services from the Demonstration Garden Garden

What resources are at the Demonstration Garden?

The Demonstration Garden on Bell Ave. is Gateway Greening’s main demonstration garden. It is open to the public every Saturday 9am to 12 pm from March through November and provides the following services to GGI youth gardens:

  • Seed packets are available free in limited amounts and at the reduced cost of $.25/pack thereafter.
  • Seasonal vegetable seedlings are available by special order only.
  • Compost and mulch pick up is available on a first- come, first-serve basis.
  • Garden tools are available to be checked out for a two-week period with a $20 deposit; lawn maintenance items (lawn mowers, weed trimmers) and tillers require a $40 deposit.
  • Gateway Greening educators and volunteers present frequent workshops on a variety of gardening topics at the Demonstration Garden Garden. All Gateway Greening supported gardens will receive an e-mail notice each week about the classes and plant material available to youth gardens.

If we have been awarded a grant from Gateway Greening before are we eligible to apply again?

Yes, you may apply every year for an expansion to your garden project provided you have submitted all evaluation paperwork and fulfilled the expectations laid out in the grant.

We are a nonprofit organization/church group/group of parent volunteers interested in starting a school garden. What kind of support do we need from school staff?

There are many examples of outside groups/organizations that help facilitate garden education at schools. To be awarded, Gateway Greening must see evidence of collaboration and active participation from both the staff and the outside organization. It will also be important that the group shows a long-term commitment to the school.

How can I show that I have legal access to the land?

In most cases the school owns the land where youth gardens are placed, in which case a simple letter of support from the principal or head administrator is required. If the garden is not on school property, please submit a lease, Memorandum of Understanding, Land Reutilization Authority agreement, or letter that indicates that your group will be able to use the land. Please check with school authorities to see if field trip forms will be required for using a garden off school property.

How can I gain access to a Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) lot?

St. Louis City LRA currently maintains approximately 8,000 lots, and many of Gateway Greening supported gardens lease vacant lots from LRA. To see if a lot is owned by LRA or to find a lot in your area you can visit the St. Louis LRA website.

How do I get my soil tested?

Testing soil for lead is important if you are planning on growing produce in an in-ground garden. Soil samples can be sent to the University of Missouri Extension soil-testing lab. Go to:

What are some resources to look at when planning a school garden?

Two great resources to help in planning a school garden are: and the Common Ground School Garden at UC Davis:


What happens if our group is awarded?

Groups that are awarded are encouraged to attend the Gateway Greening Youth Garden Grant Award Ceremony. A representative will sign a garden agreement with Gateway Greening, and a time will be scheduled for the garden installation. On the actual installation day, a Gateway Greening staff member will assist and supervise your garden’s volunteers in constructing the garden. A typical installation involves building raised garden beds and filling the beds with soil. We require that students, teachers, staff, and volunteers be present and prepared to help with the installation such that there is on average at least one adult per raised bed being constructed.

What are the requirements of having a youth garden?

Youth Garden Leaders must agree to maintain the gardening space including during summer months. All produce that is taken from the garden is expected to be weighed and records of produce weights are to be submitted on a yearly basis. School gardens are also asked to submit a lesson plan from each teacher who uses the garden at the end of their second year of gardening. The lesson plans will be used to create a compilation of school garden lessons from St. Louis teachers.

What are the expectations of a youth garden leader?

The Youth Garden leader serves as Gateway Greening’s primary contact with the garden and will be responsible for meeting Gateway Greening staff during site visits. The Youth Garden leader is also expected to attend or recruit garden representatives to attend at least three Gateway Greening-led workshops, including a spring Leadership in the Garden training. The garden leader must also submit a pre and post survey about their gardening knowledge.