Schools and community gardens across the state are invited to apply for assistance with garden maintenance, education, and sustainability as an Arkansas GardenCorps Service site for 2014-2015.

Arkansas GardenCorps is a program administered through the Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program, directed by Dr. Judy Weber of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI), to promote using school and community gardens as a tool for increasing environmental awareness and sustainable agriculture as a strategy for addressing childhood obesity prevention. It provides Arkansas communities with access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. The program is funded through a federal AmeriCorps grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to the ACHRI Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program.

Each school or community garden selected will receive an on-campus AmeriCorps service member beginning September 2014 through August 2015. The member will help with all areas of school and community gardening: development, maintenance, education, and produce distribution, as well as the growth of volunteer support to assist with sustainability.

By participating, schools and community gardens will receive at least one AmeriCorps service member for a one year term of service (equating to approximately 35-40 hours per week) to assist with Arkansas GardenCorps objectives under the site’s direction. They’ll also receive training for members and site supervisors to learn skills necessary for meeting the objectives, as well as technical gardening advice and mentorship from the ACHRI Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program.

Eligible sites will meet the following requirements: · Must be a school or educational institution, non-profit organization or local government agency located in Arkansas; · Must be willing to designate one person to serve as a Site Supervisor; · Must be willing to provide a $5,500 cash match from non-federal funds for each Arkansas GardenCorps member; and · Must agree to provide service opportunities for members that meet Arkansas Garden Corps objectives.

Those interested in applying to be an Arkansas GardenCorps service site can find more information and an application at www.arkansasgardencorps.com.

All applications are due by January 10, 2014.

For additional information, contact Program Administrator Emily English at (501) 364-3360 or esenglish@uams.edu.