Kitchen Gardeners International

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Kitchen Gardeners International

Scarborough, United StatesScarborough, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Do you dig good food? We do too, literally. We're Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI), a nonprofit of 32,000 people growing our own healthy food and helping others to do the same. We're best known for having led the successful campaign for a kitchen garden at the White House. We're ready to grow!

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

How can we manage to feed 10 billion people both nutritiously and sustainably in 2100 when we're not managing to do either in 2013 with a population of 7.1 billion? (Hint: the answer is in our own backyard.)

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

KGI thinks that the best way to accomplish something big is to inspire and empower a lot of people to do something small. We seek to improve food security and maximize human and environmental health through the promotion of food gardens, the smallest and most accessible form of agriculture. Our approach is to harness the resources-human, technical, financial-of people who grow their own nutritious, delicious, and sustainable food to help others do the same. We do this through three programs: 1) educational programming to teach more people how to grow their own food 2) awareness-raising campaigns that make the case for more food gardens to policy-makers and thought-leaders and 3) mini-grants to small,like-minded groups in the US and abroad.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

KGI has excelled at applying modest financial resources to targeted societal pressure points to achieve big results. To date, we've achieved our biggest victories by mobilizing people online to create momentum towards a goal, using that momentum to attract media attention (we've been covered 10 times in the New York Times in the past 5 years), and then using the media attention to mobilize even more people. This is the approach we used with our White House Kitchen Garden campaign which ended up winning the United Nations Foundation's On Day One competition and coverage in Washington Post, BBC and Wall Street Journal. That high-profile garden is now thriving and serving as the best advertisement for food gardens that money can buy.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

While our past results are impressive for such a small organization (reaching, teaching and inspiring millions of people with an annual budget of under $100,000), we're most excited about our future impacts, especially in connection with our new mini-grants program called Sow It Forward. Launched last year, Sow It Forward leverages the volunteer resources of our community along with the financial and material resources of gardening companies and funders to plant and sustain food gardens that serve vulnerable and underserved populations. In our first year, we offered 80 grants (73 in the US, 7 abroad) that reached 24,000 people and helped them to grow 80,000 pounds of healthy food. Yet, we're just scratching the surface of this program's potential: our online application received over 920 applications in just 5 weeks. Our goal in 2014 is to double our grants and impacts.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The best proof of our plan is that KGI is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and that our budget this year is almost twice as large as it was 2 years ago. From helping to plant a garden at the White House to partnering with 80 groups last year to plant gardens reaching and feeding 24,000 people, KGI is showing that a micro-nonprofit can have a macro-impact by keeping innovation high, overheads low and by constantly reinventing ourselves.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many gardening & small-scale agriculture initiatives underway globally. One thing that sets us apart from many traditional garden organizations (eg the National Gardening Association) is our focus on food gardens. We share some of the same goals of groups working in the re-localization/resilience space (like the Transition Network) but there too, our focus on food gardens sets us apart. We're similar to an Ashoka-sponsored group in Ireland called GIY, but rather than create local chapters like they're doing, we're partnering with existing local groups like schools, churches, etc.

Founding Story

My epiphany came when I returned to my childhood neighborhood in the suburbs of Portland, ME (where I now reside again) after living and traveling abroad for 10 years. I came home to see that the gardens of my youth had disappeared or been downsized and that the neighborhood farm where I had picked peas and beans as a 12 year old had been plowed under and sown with a different type of crop: a subdivision of 100 houses growing immaculate, chemically-enhanced lawns and absolutely nothing to eat, unless you happen to be a sheep. Prior to my return to Maine, I had been working in Brussels as head of Friends of the Earth Europe, an environmental NGO. I realized that one good way to make the world a better, healthier place was to plant a seed.
About You
Kitchen Gardeners International
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Kitchen Gardeners International

Organization Country

, ME, Scarborough, Cumberland County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, ME, Scarborough, Cumberland County

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

-On Day One contest grand prize winner (United Nations Foundation)
-Edible Nation grand prize winner ( and Rachael Ray)
-Heart of Green award winner (Hearst Corporation)
-Do Good Outdoors contest winner (Good Magazine)
-Climate Matters Video Contest - 3rd prize (Vimeo)

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Healthy environments., Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments, Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

Support via Nutrients for All would help us do three things:
1. Increase the number of local partner groups we could support and engage via our Sow It Forward program, especially those in the Global South. This past year, we supported 80 groups total, 7 of which abroad. Our goal this year is to double that.
2. Improve as an online community for our partner groups by migrating our Drupal 7 site to Drupal Commons 3.0.
3. Create more global solidarity and networking via improved coordination of World Kitchen Garden Day.


KGI pose la base d’une autosuffisance alimentaire pour tous par son approche. Car en effet, par ignorance, nous négligeons les possibilités que disposons de produire des biens et nos besoins sur place. Mais nous préférons chercher nos richesses ailleurs. C’est du moins la chose la plus simple et accessible par tous que de transformer son environnement immédiat en espace potager pour son bien être quelle que soit la petitesse de l’espace disponibles. Il est vrai qu’en ville, tous les habitants ne peuvent pas avoir accès à la terre dans une concession. Mais l’essentiel c’est qu’il n’existe pas d’espace qui ne soit pas exploité alors que dans la même concession des individus meurent de faim.
La démarche pour la vulgarisation est tout aussi convenable et précieuse par rapport au programme de mobilisation des masses médias pour la campagne de sensibilisation. Ce relai qui prête à la visibilité fera grand écho et amener d’autres à faire autant.
Par rapport au programme éducatif, la formation permettra l’éclosion de l’esprit entrepreneurial à partir des connaissances acquises. On ne peut que s’en réjouir quand on connaît le rôle joué par l’éducation et la formation dans le développement.
En fin, le programme des mini subventions fait de la structure le leader dans le domaine des jardins potagers dans la mesure où elle défie les groupes ayant envi de s’impliquer dans les jardins potagers en les mettant à l’action. Cette démarche qui combat efficacement la faim a pour but d’asseoir l’autosuffisance alimentaire et lance aux pays africains l’appel pour l’exode urbain. C’est une philosophie du retour à la terre qui intéresse en Afrique les jeunes valides qui peinent en vain dans les villes en quête d’emploi pour leur survie. Pourtant le secret de cette survie se trouve dans la terre qu’ils ont abandonnée au village. Nous nous adressons essentiellement aux franges de populations jeunes qui ont quitté les villages pour devenir des conducteurs de taxi moto en ville, un métier qui a fait septupler le taux d’accident dans les pays africains ces dernières années.

Roger Doiron's picture

Who's ready to plant a few million food gardens? Ideas welcomed!