Central Awarded Grant from Wellmark Foundation

A grant from the Wellmark Foundation will allow for a kitchen and classroom to be added to the Central garden.

Central received a $25,000 small Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grant from The Wellmark Foundation to expand its sustainability education program. The grant is awarded to projects demonstrating a commitment to long-term sustainability through one of two goals: increased access to and consumption of nutritious foods or the promotion of safe and healthy environments that encourage physical activity. The grant will assist with the renovation of space for a garden classroom and kitchen, an extension of the college’s community garden.

The Wellmark Foundation grant will supplement funds already raised for the project, including a generous $50,000 leadership gift from Michael ’89 and Amy Dietrich Eilers ’88.

Aimed at furthering sustainability education, the renovated building will feature amenities to serve the campus and the community, including an ADA accessible bathroom, a full kitchen and flexible space for classes, events and meals.

Starting off as a few small garden beds, Central’s garden was founded in 2000 and is now more than half an acre. The garden produces more than 1,500 pounds of produce annually, plus honey from the college beehives. The bulk of the harvest goes to the college’s dining hall, and more than 10 percent is donated to the Pella Food Shelf.

Brian Campbell, director of sustainability education, said the garden is an important part of Central’s focus on sustainability.

“When thinking about food, we look at how it can be part of students’ learning experiences,” he said. “Food is integrated into many aspects of sustainability, and the enhanced workspace at the garden will allow us to offer even more educational opportunities for students and the community.”

The renovation should be complete by July 2018. People interested in supporting or learning more about the garden classroom may contact Michelle Wilkie, major gifts officer, at wilkiem@central.edu.

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