Help Us Crowdfund School Gardens Across America

Giving children access to fresh food and showing them how it is grown will empower them for life. This is why school gardens are such a great thing. Instead of bringing kids to the food you are bringing the food to them. Gardens are a living laboratory for education. It’s not just about access to healthy food — it’s a lesson in what it takes to produce healthy food. Only 2% of American children eat enough fruits and vegetables, and 1 in 3 American children born after 2000 is at risk for Type II diabetes. A garden is an introduction to the real, healthy food students and families need access to.

Goodlifer: Help Us Build Urban Gardens Across America

Kids getting their hands (and white pants) dirty, working in their school garden.

Kids getting their hands (and white pants) dirty, working in their school garden.

But, even though we have seen gardens popping up in schools across the country in the past few years, it’s easy to forget how much effort is require to actually keep them running. With more than 80% of Americans living in cities and suburbs, we need to work harder than ever to teach the values of natural processes.

Meiners Oaks Elementary School student enjoying a raw kale taco.

Meiners Oaks Elementary School student enjoying a raw kale taco.

Goodlifer: Help Us Build Urban Gardens Across America

Whole Kids Foundation, PACT, and Indiegogo have teamed up to address this issue and help urban sustainable gardens across the U.S. provide increased access to healthy food and actively experience how it’s grown — from seed to plate. The Urban Gardens Across America campaign enables donors to fund the garden projects of their choice through Indiegogo, the world’s largest crowd-funding platform.

Students threshing wheat.

Students threshing wheat.

To engage the community and rally support around these campaigns, each one is led by a “PACTivist” who acts as an advocate for a particular garden. The goal is to raise $2,500 for each garden in just 39 days. For as little as $10, you can help feed, teach, and inspire people in each of these 100 communities.

Gardening is fun...

Gardening is fun…

...but also hard work.

…but also hard work.

We, here at Goodlifer, are honored to be representing the garden at Meiners Oaks Elementary School in Ojai. Every Wednesday afternoon during Garden Club, there is a flurry of activity in this garden. Nearly 70% of 1st-6th graders choose to participate in this school garden. Students assist with usual garden tasks such as planting, watering, weeding and harvesting but these budding gardeners are sifting compost, making raw tacos, saving seeds, and snacking on garden fresh “radish and kale sandwiches” or kale with butternut squash cooked up right on the spot by parents or Garden Assistants. “The kale is ready! the kale is ready!” is the call to students to put tools away, wash hands and come try a bite before going back to class.

Students gathered under the canopy.

Discovering the joys of fresh greens.

Discovering the joys of fresh greens.

The garden at Meiners Oaks Elementary also features 11 fruit trees, which produce fruit during the school year, a food forest and vermicomposting from Wednesday lunch scraps. With your donations, we can help keep this popular program going and ensure that new generations of students in Ojai can experience the joys of growing (and eating) fresh produce.

Carrying freshly grown beets and tomatoes.

David White of Food For Thought Ojai showing the students how it's done.

David White of Food For Thought Ojai showing the students how it’s done.

Food for Thought Ojai is the lead organization behind school gardens, agricultural literacy, environmental awareness and school food improvement in the Ojai Unified School District. This School Garden Program brings knowledge, dedication, consistency and technical skills to create amazing school gardens, which enhance the educational experience of local students.

Washing veggies.

Nearly 70% of students at Meiners Oaks Elementary participate in the garden club.

Nearly 70% of students at Meiners Oaks Elementary participate in the garden club.

Mission-driven organic apparel brand PACT has designed a garden-inspired collection of socks, tanks, T-shirts, leggings and underwear around the campaign and generously provide the perks supporters get for each $25 to $250 donation made online during the course of the campaign (from January 21 – February 28).

“We are excited to connect PACT with urban farms across the country and raise awareness of the importance of eating healthy foods,” says Jeff Denby, owner of PACT. “Our Spring 2013 collection reflects our dedication to the urban farms movement from our Farm Stripes to our Blossom prints.”

Students eating cauliflower from the garden.

Fresh green peas at Meiners Oaks Earth Day Farmers Market.

Whole Kids Foundation, a Whole Foods Market foundation, will provide additional support for each garden, like online garden planning tools and organic seeds to help build or expand each urban garden.

“Whole Kids Foundation has seen firsthand the huge interest for community gardens, so we are excited to join such a creative initiative that will raise much needed funds and promote awareness about the importance of understanding where our food comes from,” said Nona Evans, executive director for Whole Kids Foundation. “Gardening helps create a tangible experience that connects parents and kids to real food and helps inspires healthier eating habits.”

Peas are cool.

“We’re excited to be part of this one-of-kind partnership,” said Danae Ringelmann, Co-Founder of Indiegogo. “It’s inspiring to know that a mission-driven foundation, brand and crowdfunding platform can not only do good together, but we can also empower people to take action and influence what happens in their local communities.”

Goodlifer: Help Us Build Urban Gardens Across America

With every contribution to a garden, donors will receive great perks from PACT. Give out of the goodness of your heart, and be rewarded with organic, ethically made undies, socks and tees. It’s totally a win-win situation.

Help us support the Meiners Oaks garden or find one in your community.

Photography by Timothy Teague

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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