Big Green Learning Gardens

Schoolyard vegetable gardens have been shown to have a strong positive impact on children’s food choices. Planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables of their own increases children’s willingness and desire to eat those vegetables, and try new ones. From The Edible Schoolyard program started by chef Alice Waters in Berkeley, CA in 1995, to the many local groups running their own small schoolyard garden programs, the results have been the same. (Do a simple internet search for “schoolyard gardens” and you’ll see what I mean.)

Kimbal Musk wants to take this concept to a national level. He is the co-founder of Big Green, a national non-profit whose goal is to establish schoolyard garden programs in every school in the U.S. According to Musk,

In 2011, I wanted answers. So Hugo and I co-founded non-profit organization to join the movement to help get kids excited about real food. Supported by my community restaurant, The Kitchen, we started building Learning Gardens in schools around our community and surrounding cities. We were a small but fierce team and called ourselves The Kitchen Community (TKC). We had success in Denver with the support of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. We went to California to build gardens in LAUSD, Compton, and Hawthorne School Districts. We went to Chicago with the incredible support from the City of Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel and built 100 Learning Gardens in one calendar year! Next up was Memphis with 100 Learning Gardens and Pittsburgh with 50 Learning Gardens in only two years. In 2016 we went to Indianapolis where we now have 30 Learning Gardens and are on our way to 100. 👊 It’s been a whirlwind of excitement around real food and yes, my questions were answered. Real food education makes a powerful difference.

The next expansion city is Detroit, where Musk has already received the support of local corporate and philanthropic sponsors. But they still need more help. To find out more, read Musk’s post and to take action, go to Big Green.

 

 

  1. First of all, I hadn’t realized that my favorite entrepreneur’s brother is also a great guy (but not surprised, same parents raised them both), and second, that’s a fantastic initiative.

    I am not entirely sure why American kids grow up disconnected from vegetables and from food in general, considering that a large proportion of them live in houses with gardens, but yes, hands-on experience of seeing something sprout from seed and grow into actual food is transformative, and moreso at a young age. I remember how excited I was about the vegetable patch that my nanny tended when I was little, and how much my love of both, gardening and food, has come from her. And if the kids do not get the same experiences at home, then a schoolyard garden is a great way to go.

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    1. I also remember how wonderful it was to have fruits and vegetables right outside my door as a child, and while it’s true that many children are growing up with gardens, fewer and fewer people are growing vegetables in them these days. They’re too labor- and space-intensive. In some of the urban areas where Musk is working, fresh fruits and vegetables are even hard to find in the neighborhood stores. Schoolyard gardens are definitely a place to start.

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