Who We Are | The Green Heart Project
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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). 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

Jesse Blom
Executive Director

Jesse serves the Green Heart Project as its Executive Director, overseeing all facets of the organization. For more than a decade, Jesse has used urban agriculture as a tool for building community and for inspiring curiosity and learning in people of all ages. Prior to joining the Green Heart Project, he managed an educational urban farm project for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD and before then, led urban agriculture, education, and training projects for Sweet Water Foundation in his hometown of Milwaukee, WI. Jesse is honored to be serving the Charleston community and would love to hear from you. You can reach him directly at jesse@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

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

Drew Harrison
Development Director

Drew has been involved with the Green Heart Project since its inception in 2009. First as a volunteer, then as its first employee, then as its first Executive Director from 2012-2018. Now serving as Development Director, Drew is responsible for overseeing the organization’s growth in the Charleston community. You can reach him directly at: drew@greenheartsc.org

Erin Snow
Site Coordinator: 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.”

Rachel Meek
Program Manager

My adventures with The Green Heart Project began in 2018 as an apprenticeship through the Growing New Farmers program. Within this time, my Green Heart Family has helped to nurture and expand my farming interest into a newfound passion. I am currently a Program Manager and Garden Champion. I get to share my knowledge and skills with younger generations in hopes that they will carry these invaluable tools with them for a lifetime. I feel strongly that the best way to connect communities is with food and I am honored to be a part of the Green Heart team!

Laura Pickard
Program Coordinator (In-School/STEM)

Laura joined the Green Heart team in 2018. With a passion for gardening and a background in school administration, the program was a perfect fit! After spending years in an administrative capacity, Laura loves being back with the students in an outdoor classroom setting. She believes that the hands-on gardening experiences can reach many types of learners and promotes a healthy lifestyle for all students. When not at Green Heart, you can find Laura at her vocational training coffee program, Independent Grounds Coffee House.

Anna Paul
Program Manager

Anna has a passion for being outdoors, taking care of the environment, gardening, and working our youth. She was drawn to Green Heart Project because their mission aligns with what she loves doing. She recently returned to Charleston and joined forces with GHP to be a Project Manager after doing outdoor education in Montana. Anna is very excited about all the hands-on learning opportunities that GHP will provide and is ready to get her hands dirty in the garden!

Maura Gabriel
Program Manager

I began working with The Green Heart Project in 2016 under Erin Snow at Meeting Street Academy, where I teach Pre-K.  I loved being able to experience the outdoors, culinary skills and unique taste tests with our students.  The next year, the opportunity arose to be a program manager which I immediately knew I wanted to do!  I am very passionate about exposing children to new foods and diverse ways to eat plants they are already familiar with.  Green Heart is an amazing program for all children to experience and I feel very lucky to be able to be a part of it!

Matt Jordan
Garden Champion

Matt joined the Green Heart Project in 2017, first serving as a volunteer with the Mitchell Elementary after school program and garden. He has a passion about supporting and strengthening education, sustainability, and other green initiatives that better the community. In addition to his volunteer work, he has also served as Program Manager and Garden Champion. Matt promotes, supports and helps build coalitions with schools and the community. He enjoys working in the garden and helping others to learn and grow.

Board of Directors

Nikki Seibert – PRES.

Wit Meets Grit

Meredith Ebenhoeh – VP

Accountfully

Scott Sasser – TR

Blackbaud

Kaitlin F. DaPore – Sec.

MUSC

Weston Fennell

Limehouse Produce

Dirk Bedford

Meeting Street Academy

Karalee Nielsen Fallert

Taco Boy

Russ Seamon

SeamonWhiteside

Harriett Lee

Convercent

Rich Yessian

Blue Ion

Morneek Bellinger-Holloway

Mitchell Elementary School

Temitope Leyimu

Motley Rice Law Firm

Annie Kouba

Motley Rice Law Firm

Partners

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.

SeamonWhiteside

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

Scott E. Phillips Foundation of the Coastal Community Foundation

Community Sponsor

Revelry Brewing Co.

Community Sponsor

The Boeing Company

Community Sponsor

Friends of Sullivan’s Island Elementary

Community Sponsor

High Water Music Festival

Community Sponsor

Spectrum Concessions

Community Sponsor

Henning Fund

Community Sponsor

Frances Downing

Community Sponsor

Garden Sponsors

Garden Sponsor

Morgan Herterich

Garden Sponsor

Lindsey & Wes Carter

Garden Sponsor

Le Creuset

Garden Sponsor

Limehouse Produce

Garden Sponsor

Volvo Car USA

Program Sponsors

Program Sponsor

GrowFood Carolina

Program Sponsor

Sertoma Club of Charleston

Program Sponsor

Blue Ion

Program Sponsor

Crescent Homes

Program Sponsor

Frederick Baker

Program Sponsor

Motley Rice

Class Sponsor

Blackbaud
Braddock Family Fund
David Aylor Law Offices
Don & Susan Harrison
EventHaus
Ingevity
Jean Rion
John & Mary Ann Dauble
SC Ports Authority
Scott Sasser
SOL Southwest Kitchen
Synchronicity
The Dampop Fund
Uneeda Sicilian
Williams & Walsh Attorneys at Law

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”
STONE Media
“The Green Heart Project with Seamon Whiteside”
“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