Niles Community Gardens wins $4,000 in online contestPublished 8:32pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012
In a real-life version of David versus Goliath, Niles Community Gardens beat 14 other community gardens, including two from Toronto and Chicago, to claim first place in the second annual Community Garden Grant Program.
Niles Community Gardens received more than 28,000 online votes — more than 3,000 more votes than the second most vote-getting garden.
“I am really tickled,” said Mark VanTil, organizer of Niles Community Gardens. “I am really amazed, and I think it really is a feather in our cap for the Niles Community to get that kind of support.”
Niles Community Gardens will receive a $4,000 grant from contest sponsors DeLoach Vineyards and Organic Gardening Magazine. Niles Community Gardens will also be featured in some capacity in an upcoming issue of Organic Gardening Magazine. The top five gardens all receive a $4,000 reward.
VanTil said the money would likely be used to advance the cause of placing gardens in each Niles school. Gardens are already located in Ballard, Ring Lardner and Northside. Niles Community Gardens is also working at Niles High School.
“We hope to have a garden at every school in two years,” said VanTil, who helped create Niles Community Gardens three years ago.
VanTil said the turning point in the contest came when Niles Community Gardens got the support of a Facebook group called “If you grew up in Niles/SW Michigan then you remember what…”
“When those people kicked in, that’s what made the difference. We went from fourth to first place in that week,” VanTil said.
The results of the contest are unofficial at this point, VanTil said. However, Niles Community Gardens had the most votes at the end of the contest date, Aug. 6. VanTil said contest officials are verifying the results to make sure there was no cheating.
“I want to thank all those who promoted it and participated in such good community spirit,” VanTil said.