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).
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
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!
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 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.