UMD Community Learning Garden Awarded Funds for Use During COVID-19

  • Posted on: 6 August 2020
  • By: msmolins

UMD Community Learning Garden Awarded Funds for Use During COVID-19

The University of Maryland’s Community Learning Garden (CLG) was awarded funds from the U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) and American Public Gardens Association who have partnered to offer support to established urban agriculture and other urban food-growing programs at public gardens affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, $378,000 was awarded to 28 public gardens across the United States to help sustain urban agriculture and community food growing during this challenging time.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Maryland’s Community Learning Garden has donated 100% of its harvest to the UMD Campus Pantry — an organization dedicated to eliminating food insecurity on campus. Prior to COVID-19, the Community Learning Garden was used to educate the community on growing its own food. Volunteers at the garden were able to take home a portion of the harvested product and any extra would be given to the university’s Campus Pantry. However, given the increased need of the pantry’s services since the start of the pandemic, it was decided that all of the garden’s harvest will be donated to the pantry through 2020.  Dedicated essential staff and faculty working at the CLG throughout COVID-19, with assistance from student volunteers working remotely, have managed the garden’s upkeep and output to maximize pantry contributions.   

“We are so thankful to receive this award from the USBG and American Public Gardens Association,” said Meg Smolinski, Outreach Coordinator with Maryland’s Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. “It is a recognition of the importance of community gardens in supplying nutritious food for those in need in our community. Their generous funding awarded at such a critical time, will allow us to upgrade and improve our watering and irrigation systems, making the Community Learning Garden an even more sustainable enterprise.”

With the assistance of the USBG and American Public Gardens Association funds, participating gardens in 19 states and Washington, D.C. will be able to grow and distribute produce, especially to communities with food access challenges; maintain and expand urban agriculture and other food growing education programs; and promote wellness and nutrition by educating the public about growing and consuming fruits and vegetables.

“Especially now, during this unprecedented health and economic crisis, communities need access to healthy, fresh foods. We are proud to be able to support our fellow public gardens in their vital work of helping local communities grow and gain access to more fruits and vegetables and achieve better nutrition,” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden.

 “We appreciate the fantastic work public gardens across America are doing every day to support communities to provide horticultural knowledge and food security, especially during this very challenging time,” said Casey Sclar, executive director of the American Public Gardens Association.


UMD Campus Pantry


The University of Maryland’s Campus Pantry is open for distribution to all UMD staff, faculty, and students onTuesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the South Campus Dining Hall Loading Dock.  Individual appointments are available by contacting  or 301-314-8054. To be eligible for services you must have a current UMD ID with you.

 The Campus Pantry is also accepting donations; click here for more information.


Article written by Katie Stouffs Grimes