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News: Founders Fund Through the Years


September 22, 2020

A Look Back to the Beginning

For eighty-three years, The Garden Club of America has awarded its prestigious Founders Fund grants, through member clubs, to projects designed to restore, improve, and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and action in the fields of conservation and civic improvement. Interestingly, both the first award, given  in 1936, and the most recent, given in 2020, have honored human health initiatives directly related to the earth.

The Founders Fund was established in 1934 in memory of the GCA’s first president, Elizabeth Price Martin. The first winner was the Amateur Gardeners Club of Baltimore, Maryland, who received $700 to assist in the printing of an English version of The Badianus Manuscript: An Aztec Herbal, 1552. The manuscript is one of the earliest known treatises on Mexican medicinal plants and native Aztec herbal remedies produced in the Americas. Fifteen hundred copies were published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, many of which can be found in libraries and medical schools around the country today.

This year’s winning project, receiving a grant of $30,000, was a partnership between the Twin City Garden Club of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the Crossnore School & Children’s Home. Children develop trauma resiliency from the soil by designing, creating, and working to establish the garden. Souls are restored through tasting, smelling, and touching nature. 

Additional grants of $10,000 each were awarded as well. Perennial Planters, Providence, Rhode Island, will use the funds to support its community project, CheerMobile: What Cheer Flower Farm on the Rhode. Garden Club of Madison, Madison, New Jersey, will use the funds for its community project, Growing It Green in Paterson, NJ - Public School Rain Garden Project. To learn more about the 2020 Founders Fund grant winners click here

Since its founding in 1934, ninety Founders Fund winners and runners-up have received more than $1.5 million to save thousands of acres of land and innumerable trees, to restore historic landmarks, to establish civic plantings, and to conduct research and educational projects across the country. While the amount of the award may have changed from $700 to $30,000 (with two $10,000 runner-up grants), the intent remains the same.

An illustration from The Badianus Manuscript: An Aztec Herbal, 1552




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