SFC's Grow Local program offers Central Texas residents the knowledge & resources necessary to grow their own food in order to alleviate hunger and bolster the health of their families, their communities, and the environment. We envision a world in which everyone can grow food using sustainable gardening practices and with the support of knowledgeable gardening communities.
SFC's Grow Local works to realize its vision by supporting home, school, and community gardeners with classes, trainings, and resources.
SFC's Grow Local program offers:
During each fall and spring planting season, SFC's Grow Local program offers introductory and intermediate classes that equip Central Texas residents with the knowledge they need to start and sustain organic food gardens. Proceeds from our for-fee classes support the free gardening classes we offer at Austin schools, recreation centers, places of worship, and shelters. SFC's Grow Local also offers the Citizen Gardener Certification, which provides dedicated gardeners with an opportunity to boost their expertise while volunteering their time to help school, community, and home food gardens in Austin thrive.
The J.P.’s Peace, Love, and Happiness Foundation Teaching Garden is SFC's site for gardening classes, school and summer camp field trips, volunteer work days, group tours, and drop-in visits. Located adjacent to SFC, the Teaching Garden demonstrates sustainable food gardening techniques that are well suited to Central Texas' semi-arid climate.
SFC's Grow Local helps Central Texas residents start and sustain community gardens by providing education, consultation, and fiscal sponsorship. A community garden is a parcel of land cooperatively gardened by a group of people. Community gardens offer individuals and families a place to grow their own food—especially those individuals and families who don’t have space for a garden at home. Nestled into properties like public parks, recreation centers, and apartment complexes, these gardens can transform underutilized lots into vibrant neighborhood gathering spaces. They also create opportunities for neighbors to collaborate and form lifelong friendships.
For over 30 years, SFC's Grow Local has been helping Central Texans start and sustain school gardens by connecting parents, teachers, and community members with the training and resources they need in order to establish, use, sustain, and advocate for school gardens. These gardens offer children (and adults!) opportunities to grow food and discover how delicious and fun eating fresh fruits and vegetables can be. In addition to increasing children's openness to, preference for, and intake of healthy foods, school garden participation improves academic performance, social behavior, and appreciation for the environment.
Spread the Harvest seeks to reduce financial barriers to food gardening by providing Central Texas schools, low-income residents and not-for-profit gardens with free gardening materials, including plants, compost, seeds, and fertilizer. Each year, Spread the Harvest provides over 10,000 gardeners with gardening materials. Seeds and fertilizer are available year-around at SFC's office. Plants and compost are distributed twice a year at Resource Give-Away Days.
Volunteering at school, community, and non-profit gardens is an ideal way to solidify your gardening knowledge and skills, share your expertise with novice food growers, pass along food growing knowledge to younger generations, and support the development of a thriving local food system that is accessible to Austin’s diverse residents and communities. Whether you have just started growing your own food or have been gardening for years, you can help local schools and communities establish, revive and develop food gardens by volunteering at workdays or by serving as a garden mentor.
Download our lists of Austin-area food pantries that accept fresh produce, recommended gardening resources, and funding opportunities for school and community gardens below: