|The Impact of GRO1000 Community Gardens and Green Spaces|
By Mike Sutterer, vice president of regional marketing at ScottsMiracle-Gro
As a 14 year veteran of ScottsMiracle-Gro, I've seen and been part of many things at this company that make me proud to work here. None have had the impact that GRO1000 program has had.
The GRO1000 philanthropic initiative is the company's commitment to creating 1,000 community gardens and green spaces by 2018, which marks the 150th anniversary of ScottsMiracle-Gro.
Over the past few years, I've participated in many of these events and have seen first-hand how what we're doing impacts individuals, communities and our business. While each event has been great, a few stories stick out in my mind, including:
Sacramento - Our event was at a charter high school in the inner city area of Sacramento. Several months after the event, I had a chance to go back and visit the site with a few members of my team. No lights, no cameras, no media and dignitaries - just meeting with the program manager to see the progress. Hearing her tell stories about how the kids from the school had never seen fresh beans or fresh tomatoes - she had to teach them what they were when they first saw them! These experiences are a reminder of how we can all enhance people's lives and how important it is to get kids engaged.
Tuscaloosa - Most people may not remember this, but a couple of years ago, Tuscaloosa was devastated by a tornado. It destroyed large sections of the city, including low-income housing areas. While we built a community garden near these devastated communities in Tuscaloosa, it's what we did after the event that was truly special. Across the street from the GRO1000 site were several Habitat for Humanity homes that were rebuilt after the storm. As part of our GRO1000 event, several ScottsMiracle-Gro team members worked - in the pouring rain - to help the residents create raised bed gardens, landscape beds and new lawns. The gratitude and joy from the residents was something I'll never forget. We helped them express themselves on their own piece of the earth, when they wouldn't have otherwise been able to afford it.
Houston - Finally, I had the pleasure of presenting the a GRO1000 grant to a group of Pre-K students in Houston at our inaugural 2014 event. The winners were a classroom of four-year-olds from a low income area that were discovering the many ways that gardening enhances lives - from plants that attract butterflies to fresh vegetables that nourish both their minds and their bodies. This was another amazing example of how the GRO1000 initiative is making a positive impact on communities nationwide.
Through GRO1000 we've been able to build relationships and solidify partnerships. The company's commitment to these local areas has helped build advocates in key cities around the country . These advocates include government officials, policy makers, key influencers, industry associations and our retail partners.