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Plan Now for Fall Seed Money

Unity Gardens grants grow leaders as well as plants and flowers

Eagle Scouts from Troop 771 help plant their Peace Garden at Congregation Kol Shalom.

Plants and flowers aren’t the only things that grow in a garden. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.
    “We want projects that build community partnerships, bringing in volunteers and creating opportunities for leaders to emerge and take on new projects,” says Unity executive director Barbara Dowling.
    Twice each year, Unity Gardens makes grants for purposeful gardens to neighborhood groups, schools, churches, scout troops and other community organizations in Anne Arundel County.
    Gardens have ranged from butterfly gardens to sea grass installations. Providing food and shelter for bees and butterflies while creating rain gardens to improve stormwater drainage have been popular projects in the last year.
    This spring Unity Gardens provided support to 17 groups, including schools, community associations, garden clubs, a historic home, a public park and more.
    An Eagle Scout project called the Peace Garden was installed at Congregation Kol Shalom by Phillip Katcef and Troop 771.
    At Bates Middle School, a monarch garden was built as a waystation of nature’s long-distance travelers. A butterfly garden was also installed at Crofton Library by the Bowie-Crofton Garden Club and the University of Maryland Master Gardeners.
    Priority gardens use “native plants that can endure hot and dry weather and things that improve our environment, like rain gardens or pollinator gardens,” Dowling says.
    In its 12 years, Unity Gardens has awarded $150,000 to more than 160 organizations. Founded as part of the Severn River Association, the organization receives funding from foundation grants, corporate and individual donations and local government support.
    Grants up to $1,000 may be used for trees, plants and materials to support potential projects.
    Apply now through August 31: unitygardens.org.