Who We Are | The Green Heart Project

Mission & History

The Green Heart Project is a community-based volunteer organization that integrates school farms as outdoor classrooms in an effort to teach students the virtues of hard work, respect and success, and to reiterate classroom curriculum while connecting students and volunteers to fresh, healthy, locally-grown produce.

The Green Heart Project was founded in 2009 as a small school garden at Mitchell Elementary School in downtown Charleston with the intention of reconnecting their students with fresh, locally-grown produce. As a Title-1 public school in a labeled food desert, the majority of Mitchell Elementary students come from low-income households that lack access to the whole, fresh fruits and vegetables that we all need to lead a healthy lifestyle. With this knowledge, local neighborhood residents Karalee Nielsen and Chauncey Jordan founded the Project with the hopes of changing those facts. Together with a group of friends, and an open-minded principal looking for alternative ways to teach and inspire, they devised a plan to build an urban garden with a group of 3rd grade students, utilizing the experience as a service-learning project to teach students the value of growing your own food.

In the first year, the Project quickly became more than an experiment in urban gardening. With students and volunteers working in the garden together, a mentorship was fostered. It was soon realized that the students were growing personally and socially, just as the vegetables were growing big in the garden. The urban farm became an organic example of an important life lesson -- through hard work, teamwork and respect for the process, you can literally bear the fruits of your labor. The volunteers became “Green Heart Buddies” – mentors students could count on and learn with as they worked together in the garden. And it is from this model in volunteer-assisted service-learning that the Green Heart Project's mission and educational program was founded.

Garden Locations

Mitchell Elementary School

2 Perry Street, Charleston, SC 29403

The Mitchell Elementary School Micro-Farm was our pilot project, planted in 2009. It has grown from 5 small raised beds in the schoolyard to encompass over 12,000 ft² of garden space, and includes a 5,500 ft² fully irrigated vegetable garden, a native species and herb garden, and a 35 tree fruit orchard (including citrus, papaya, figs, pomegranate and blueberries).

Sanders Clyde Creative Arts School

805 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

Planted in January of 2015, by a group of After School students and dedicated Green Heart Buddies, the Sanders-Clyde garden consists of twelve raised beds, a composting area, as well as a native species garden bed. While only in the seedling stage, this garden will continue to grow and flourish along with our students!

Sullivan’s Island Elementary School

2015 I'on Avenue, Sullivan's Island, SC 29482

Through a partnership with SeamonWhiteside, the Green Heart Project designed and built Sullivan’s Island Elementary 5 raised ‘wicking’ beds in the summer of 2015.  It now serves the students of Sullivan’s Island Elementary with room to grow!

Meeting Street Academy Garden

990 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403

In August of 2015, the Green Heart Project adopted GrowFood Carolina’s demonstration garden to facilitate a farm-to-school program for the students of neighboring, Meeting Street Academy.  It consists of 5 irrigated raised beds, herb garden, composting station some fruit trees a muscadine vine.

Meeting Street Elementary School Garden

2685 Leeds Ave, North Charleston, SC 29405

Through a partnership with SeamonWhiteside, the Green Heart Project designed and built Meeting Street Elementary’s 5 raised wicking beds in the summer of 2015.  It now serves the students of Meeting Street Elementary with room to grow!

Green Heart Team

Drew Harrison
Executive Director

Drew has been involved with the Green Heart Project since its inception in 2009.  First as a volunteer, then as its first employee, he has now held the roll of Executive Director since 2012.  Overseeing all facets of the organization, he has shaped the organization into what it is today and still loves to inspire, educate and connect with his hands in the dirt. You can reach him directly at: drew@greenheartsc.org

Amanda Howell
Program Director

Amanda’s passions for education, social justice and all-things-food are what brought her to The Green Heart Project. After spending two years as a classroom teacher with Teach For America in Oakland, CA, she relocated to the Carolinas to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health at UNC Chapel Hill. Her focus was on school-based obesity prevention initiatives in underserved communities, including gardening- and cooking-enhanced nutrition education programs. Amanda is excited to be working at the intersection of food and education as a Program Director with Green Heart, and looks forward to getting out in the garden with our Green Heart Buddies! amanda@greenheartsc.org

Cat Brantley
After-School Program Manager for Mitchell Elementary School

Cat first became a part of the Green Heart Project community when she attended the annual Harvest Dinner in May of 2016. After touring Mitchell Elementary garden with some very excited and proud students, she felt compelled to get involved even further. “The chance to truly impact our future generation and introduce them to the world of fresh ingredients is what makes me the most excited about this position. I can’t wait to be an integral part of Green Heart’s mission, and to help create those important connections to healthy food with my students…

Nathan Burnell
Garden Coordinator

As Garden Coordinator, Nate manages all of our school gardens. In addition, he handles the logistics between Green Heart and all of our passionate volunteers for work days and events. Before taking on this position, he was involved in building and managing the compost piles at each of our school gardens as part of his work with the non profit called Compost Rangers, which he started in early 2016. Nate has always had a love for the outdoors and cared for Mother Nature, which is why it’s his goal to encourage people to rethink what they throw out. nathan@greenheartsc.org

Cooper Mattheison
After-School Program Manager for Meeting Street Academy

For as long as Cooper can remember, he has been inspired to combat climate change and leave a positive impact on the environment around him. Teaching kids has also been a big part of his personal journey, as he claims to be an 8 year old at heart. When Cooper met our Executive Director, Drew Harrison, and found out about The Green Heart Project, he fell in love with the program. “Working with kids to nourish our bodies and the Earth is a beautiful thing. I’m thrilled to be a program manager for the Green Heart Project because I absolutely love watching kids learn and grow in the garden. Seeing the excitement in their eyes from the time they plant their first seed to when they eat the fruits of their labor is an absolute blast.”


Erin Snow
After-School Program Manager for Meeting Street Academy

Erin has known about Green Heart and volunteered at events and fundraisers for years. Her time began with us volunteering in the gardens “after-hours.” When Green Heart came to Meeting Street Academy in 2015, where she teaches kindergarten, it was her first opportunity to see the program in full action with students. Now, she is leading it! “I was incredibly excited and grateful for my students last year to have the opportunity to be part of Green Heart. This year, I am excited to create greater cohesion for the students, bridging classroom, garden, and home experiences.“

Jackie Ball
After-School Program Manager for Sullivans Island Elementary School

Jackie joined the Green Heart team in the fall of 2014 when she began volunteering as a Green Heart Buddy at both the in-school and after-school programs at Mitchell Elementary. Jackie’s passion for Farm-to-School initiatives, nutrition education, and overall health and wellness had her hooked on Green Heart’s mission and direct impact on Charleston’s community. Since supporting Sullivan’s Island Elementary School programs last spring, Jackie is excited to take on the role as Program Manager for the newest GHP site!

Allie Astor
Social Media and Marketing Intern

As a freshman at the Honors College at the College of Charleston in the fall of 2014, Allie first became involved with the Green Heart Project when she volunteered with us through the Honors Engaged Program. Originally from just outside of Burlington, Vermont, Allie brought her love for the environment down to Charleston. As an Environmental and Sustainability Studies minor, she found that the Green Heart Project was the perfect way to get involved in the Charleston community, while also getting experience in environmental education, urban agriculture and sustainability. Allie now serves as our Social Media and Marketing Intern, but also continues to get out into the garden and volunteer with our programs.


Caleb Scruggs
Volunteer Coordinator

Caleb is originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Having a passion for community and the outdoors, he got involved with the Green Heart Project through the Bonners Leader Program at the College of Charleston. Being an active Bonner Leader, Caleb jumped right on board volunteering in the gardens shortly after moving to Charleston in 2015. Caleb now works to coordinate volunteer groups and garden projects for each of our Green Heart gardens.



Board of Directors

Kendra Stewart – Chair

Riley Center for Livable Communities

Weston Fennell – VP

Limehouse Produce

Dirk Bedford

Meeting Street Academy

Karalee Nielsen Fallert – Founder
Meredith Ebenhoeh


Jill Braddock
Chauncey Jordan – Founder
Sam Moore


Nikki Seibert

Wit Meets Grit

Harriett Lee

Good Done Great

Kelly Timmons

Granna’s Gourmet

Rich Yessian

Blue Ion

Morneek Bellinger-Holloway

Mitchell Elementary School


Taco Boy

Green Heart Partner

Charleston’s ultimate taqueria & cantina style restaurant, Taco Boy serves casual Mexican food and drinks to the masses.  Locals and visitors alike enjoy tasty tacos, nachos, frozen screwdrivers, fun margaritas, tequila flights and much more at their downtown and Folly Beach locations.  As founders of the Green Heart Project and the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program, Taco Boy is also known for its commitment to the community.


Green Heart Partner

SeamonWhiteside is a leader of environmentally conscious, low-impact advancements in engineering and site design. SW blends civil engineering and landscape architecture to create holistic and sustainable environments.

Community Sponsors

Limehouse Produce

Community Sponsor

TBonz Foundation

Community Sponsor

Scott E. Phillips Foundation of the Coastal Community Foundation

Community Sponsor

Revelry Brewing Co.

Community Sponsor


Community Sponsor

Granna’s Gourmet

Community Sponsor

Garden Sponsors

Garden Sponsor

GrowFood Carolina

Garden Sponsor

Pure Barre Charleston

Garden Sponsor

Columbia Sportswear Company


Garden Sponsor

Meeting Street Academy

Garden Sponsor

Morgan Herterich

Garden Sponsor

The Fitzgerald Family

Garden Sponsor

Lindsey & Wes Carter

Garden Sponsor

Terri Henning

Program Sponsors

Program Sponsor


Program Sponsor

Bakker Family Foundation

Program Sponsor

Meeting Street Academy


Program Sponsor

BlueKey Inc.

Program Sponsor

TBonz Foundation Inc.

Program Sponsor

Windwood Farm

Program Sponsor

Sertoma Club of Charleston

Program Sponsor

Sam Moore

Program Sponsor

Don & Susan Harrison

Program Sponsor

Le Creuset

Class Sponsor

In the News

Organic Process Productions
“The Green Heart Project”
College of Charleston
“Public Health Program and Farm-to-School Initiative”
Casey Toth of the Post & Courier
“The Green Heart Project Summer Camp”
James Brown: Treehouse Productions
“Help Us Grow: The Green Heart Project”
“Green Heart Harvest Dinner”
Charleston Magazine
December 8, 2011
“Student gardens grow life lessons”
Post & Courier
February 15, 2012
“Featured Gardens: Common Ground”
Charleston Magazine
April 4, 2012
“Drew Harrison”
Charleston Parliament
June 20, 2012
“Green thumbs, and hearts ”
Post & Courier
June 28, 2012
“Bridging the farm-to-school GAP ”
Charleston City Paper
September 12, 2012
“Local middle school students show green thumbs for project”
Post & Courier
April 25, 2013
“Green Heart hosts third annual Mitchell”
Post & Courier
May 23, 2013
“CofC Affairs”
College of Charleston Blog
May 23, 2013
“The Green Heart Project”
Two Doors Down Blog
June 21, 2013
“Helping out for July 17th”
Charleston Regional Business Journal
July 17, 2013
“Boeing chooses College farm-to school initiative”
College of Charleston News Page
July 26, 2013
“Eat your broccoli and smoothies”
Post & Courier
August 17, 2013
“Its Friday and I’m in love with Green Heart”
Lula Kate Blog
September 13, 2013
“Harvest Dinner Supports School Garden Projects”
Channel 4 News Charleston
May 1, 2014