Project Ecopolis is one of 29 exemplary nature contact programs endorsed by the National Forum on Children and Nature. Starting in fall 2008, Cornell, the American Community Gardening Association, and the Forum on Children and Nature will work together to raise funds for Project Ecopolis. The following description is taken from the Forum's Project Ecopolis website.
It's easy for urban kids and families to feel cut off from the outdoors - but nature is often just around the corner. Across the country, 17,000 community gardens - many within walking distance of a neighborhood-are waiting to be rediscovered.
In colorful pilot projects across 11 cities, the American Community Gardening Association seeks to invite kids to create unique gardens of their own, under the supervision of trained adults such as volunteer Master Gardeners.
"Project Ecopolis" will celebrate each community's personality and history. In Massachusetts, kids will connect with their Cambodian heritage by helping neighbors grow traditional, foot-long beans. In New Orleans, children will craft garden sculptures from hurricane-generated rubble, turning past misfortune into fresh perspective. And in Pennsylvania, mothers and children will tend plants as a kind of new beginning, using an apartment courtyard as a safe outdoor haven in a troubled region.
Across the projects, kids will be empowered to creatively shape their garden's environment, planting vegetables, herbs and flowers and then returning regularly, nourishing their seedlings throughout the growing season. Adult mentors will receive a Project Ecopolis primer, with an online tutorial and certification course.
In each pilot city, Project Ecopolis will work with local partners to tailor programs, making the most of local interests, climate and culture. Kids will receive garden supplies and awards recognizing their contributions.