Who We Are
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.
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). Currently, every student at Mitchell receives Green Heart Project in-school programming, in addition to one after-school program. Their urban farm is also the site for our annual Harvest Dinner each year!
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! Currently, the students of Sanders-Clyde have one Green Heart after-school program.
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! Currently, there is a Green Heart program everyday of the week at SIES. We serve every grade through in-school programming, in addition to one after-school program and one “special interest unit” for 4th and 5th graders.
Meeting Street Academy @ GrowFood Carolina
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. Currently, MSA has a Green Heart after-school program every day of the week, serving Kindergarten, 1st Grade and one group of 2nd-5th Graders.
Meeting Street Elementary @ Brentwood
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! Currently, MSE-B has two Green Heart after-school programs serving both lower elementary and upper elementary students.
Memminger Elementary School
20 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401
Memminger School of Global Studies is our newest program site! As an International Baccalaureate school, the Green Heart Project programming was a perfect fit. Launched in Fall 2017 with the help of the Charitable Society of Charleston and the SC Ports Authority, we were able to complete a summer garden re-build. Currently we provide two after-school programs for upper elementary and lower elementary students, three in-school programs for the 1st graders at Memminger.
Green Heart Team
Public Health Intern
As a College of Charleston Public Health senior, I was drawn to the Green Heart internship for a chance to work with a local nonprofit that helps elementary students grow into happy, healthy and helpful stewards of the future. With a huge heart for children, nutrition and the environment, I found Green Heart to be a perfect intersection of these areas and the Green Heart staff to be wonderful mentors to guide my own growth as a public health professional. Upon graduation in May, I hope to continue to work in the realm of community health with a focus in maternal and child health.
Public Health Intern
As a senior Public Health major and Psychology minor at the College of Charleston, I joined the Green Heart team as a Public Health intern this Spring. With a passion in holistic health, nutrition, children and the environment, I found that Green Heart was the perfect fit. I am extremely passionate about helping younger populations learn healthy habits early that can be practiced throughout their lifetime. I hope to use the skills I learn while interning to WWOOF in New Zealand or Hawaii. One of my favorite quotes is “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”- Hippocrates, which ties perfectly into the mentality of the Green Heart Project. I am extremely excited to kick off my last semester at CofC with this incredible non-profit organization.
Growing New Farmers Program Apprentice
My apprenticeship with The Green Heart Project began thanks to the Growing New Farmers Program with Lowcountry Local First and College of Charleston. Currently, I am helping maintain each school garden while learning invaluable skills both on and off the farm. The Green Heart Project’s mission to connect communities through educating and celebrating clean eating is an important and inspirational concept that I am proud to be a part of. As an apprentice, I look forward to learning and growing in the Green Heart garden!