The Ohio Herb Education Center in Gahanna needs votes.

The Ohio Herb Education Center in Gahanna needs votes.

Through Monday, April 21, public voting is occurring at and for a chance to receive one of two grants worth $20,000 or one of 15 grants worth $10,000.

Gahanna's Learning Garden project, an outreach program by the Ohio Herb Education Center, has entered the Seeds of Change grant program that is designed to enhance the environmental, economic and social well-being of gardens, farms, farmers and communities.

The grants will be awarded to organizations that help support and develop sustainable, community-based gardening and farming programs that focus on teaching people where their food comes from.

If Gahanna is awarded a grant, it would be used to purchase supplies for students to use in school gardens, a storage-shed purchase or construction, compost and plants.

"Each garden location will offer students the opportunity to learn about the environment, historical uses of plants, what can be made with plants, why plants and animals are so important, math in nature and where their foods come from," said Beth McCollam, parks-and-recreation public information coordinator.

People may vote once per day for the organization they believe most deserves a grant based on the organization's demonstration of how the grant would help it to achieve its goals.

After voting closes, the top 50 organizations with the most votes will move on to a final judging phase, after which the grant recipients will be announced on or about May 5.

Assistant recreation coordinator Shannon Barnette initiated Gahanna's Learning Garden after passing a dilapidated garden at one of the Gahanna schools last summer.

"This started from the ground up," she said. "I went to my supervisor to see if it would be possible."

Barnette said she learned of the interest in a garden at the one-room schoolhouse beside Lincoln Elementary School and at Jefferson Elementary School, Middle School South and Lincoln High School.

"I designed four different possibilities for the old school," she said. "We want the kids involved, and they get to vote. On Earth Day, April 22, we'll have a reveal and tell them which one will go in at the old schoolhouse."

She said the garden by the old schoolhouse would include native flowers to Ohio, whereas the one at Jefferson would be more of an art garden with sculptures and some children's art.

"They will all be different," Barnette said. "The one at Middle School South will have vegetables and native plants. The vegetables they grow will be used in the cafeteria.

"It's really cool. We're trying to make them self-sustainable," she said. "Kids will help plant and outline where things go."

McCollam said the number of Gahanna schools getting involved is growing, so the importance of the Seeds for Change grant is important to keep up with the growth of the project.

The program is operating with a $500 grant from the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation and a $1,000 grant from the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Foundation.