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Joe Sewards, UF/IFAS Extension, Volusia County, Urban Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator, DeLand, Fl.

Situation: Forming partnerships with non-profit organizations has always been an important component of Extension programming. These days, it is critical to further enhance and “extend” the Extension mission throughout the communities they serve. Finding partners for meaningful projects isn’t always easy. Local food movements are gaining ground as well as interest in community gardens and creating partnerships throughout the community is becoming increasingly important. Healthy eating and lifestyle habits are as important as ever. In Volusia County this has led to the formation of an important project involving a partnership with Florida Hospital/Fish Memorial (FHFM) in Orange City, Florida.

Methods: The statewide Florida Friendly Landscape office cooperated by drawing the landscape plan. The result is a multi-purpose facility including raised beds, open spaces, an orchard, cisterns, permeable pavement, a pavilion, a living wall, restroom facilities and more. The “Urban Oasis” will provide a holistic approach to health and wellness and, being on the hospital campus, participants have access to their wellness programs.

Results: UF/IFAS involvement and donations already secured resulted in the project being awarded a $242,000.00 grant from the ECHO (Environmental, Cultural, Historical and Outdoor) grant program in Volusia County. The plans were also submitted to representatives from Home Depot, in hopes of securing a $100,000.00 donation toward creation of the “Healthy Heroes” garden program to serve veterans in Volusia County. The FHFM Foundation ($75,000.00) and Vitas Health Management ($10,000.00) have also contributed to the project. To date, matching funds, donations, the ECHO grant and in-kind contributions total over $345,000.00.

Conclusion: Forming partnerships is critical for Extension to remain relevant and to continue extending their mission to traditional and non-traditional audiences.



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