A Sustainable Financing Plan for El Campito’s Urban Garden

Amorette Hernandez

Garden Plan

Insufficient access to affordable, healthy food options has prompted an 18-19% food insecurity rate in Indiana, which has only grown since the economic downturn and health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Low-income, communities of color disproportionately live in areas of concentrated poverty and food deserts lacking access to fresh produce and safe transportation to supermarkets. Urban gardens have become a growing solution to food insecurity as a means of empowering local communities to be their food source and improve community health, environmental sustainability, and resiliency to future crises.

I partnered with El Campito, a South Bend nonprofit child development center, to help build a financial framework for the creation of a local urban garden through grant writing. 

El Campito’s student population consists of above 85% minority students and students with demonstrated economic need receiving a scholarship or voucher. The ability to illustrate the intended impact of an urban garden is essential to writing a competitive grant application. Thus, I created a GIS mapping of the zip codes El Campito serves to tell a visual story of the racially and ethnically diverse, low-income, and low food access communities El Campito’s urban garden would directly benefit. I researched how to write a successful grant proposal and created a grant spreadsheet tool filled with grants tailored to El Campito’s needs, streamlining the process of identifying and applying to grants.

Using these tools, I wrote a grant proposal for El Campito in the hopes of funding an irrigation system and supplies for the garden. I created an impact value chain tying together the inputs, outputs, outcomes, and impact of the project to help El Campito succinctly convey to grant organizations and potential donors the importance of the urban garden. Lastly, I created a roadmap for El Campito’s future grant applications which synthesizes the grant-writing tools I’ve created. The culmination of these tools will streamline the grant writing process and help El Campito continue acquiring funding for the garden.