Who We Are
Mission & History
The Green Heart Project builds garden-based experiential learning projects and school garden programs to educate students connect people and cultivate community through growing, eating, and celebrating food.
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
Site Coordinator & Garden Educator
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.”
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 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.