Who We Are | The Green Heart Project
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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.

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 at 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 at 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.

Meeting Street Elementary at Burns

3750 Dorchester Rd, North Charleston, SC 29405

James Simons Montessori School

741 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Charleston Catholic School

888 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Charleston Charter School for Math & Science

1002 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Compass Collegiate Academy

34 Race St, Charleston, SC 29403

Daniel Island School – Affiliate

2365 Daniel Island Dr, Charleston, SC 29492

St. Andrews School for Math & Science – Affiliate

30 Chadwick Dr, Charleston, SC 29407

Ashley River Creative Arts – Affiliate

1871 Wallace School Rd, Charleston, SC 29407

Carolina Youth Development Center – Affiliate

5055 Lackawanna Blvd, North Charleston, SC 29405

Burke High School

244 President Street, Charleston, SC, 29403

Pepperhill Elementary School

3300 Creola Road, North Charleston, SC, 29420

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.

Kenai McFadden
Youth Development Program Director

Kenai returned to his home state of South Carolina to serve as the Youth Development Program Director for the Green Heart Project after six years of public health training. He brings with him experiences from Houston, Baltimore, and Atlanta, where he delivered health education programs, pursued a public health degree, practiced as an urban farmer, and communicated about outbreaks. He believes that food is a powerful vehicle for facilitating health behavior change. Kenai loves Charleston so far and enjoys expressing himself through dancing, chess, and roller skating. kenai@greenheartsc.org

Kimberly Perrineau-Jackson
Operations Director

The idea that everyone has the right to healthy food and her growing interest in the collaboration of agriculture and community, led Kimberly to The Green Heart Project. In her role as Operations Manager she intends to enhance awareness of growing food and the important role it serves.  She believes that cultivating communities through commitment, collaborative learning and humility among other things, will assist in her efforts. She is excited about this opportunity and looks forward to being a part of the Team! When not at Green Heart, you can find her tutoring youth, working with the family business, attending football games and spending time with her husband and children. kim@greenheartsc.org

Allie Astor
Marketing & Communications Manager

A love of the outdoors and interest in food and sustainability first brought Allie to the Green Heart Project during her freshman year at the College of Charleston. Throughout her time at CofC, she volunteered as a Buddy and completed a semester-long internship with Green Heart, which helped develop a love for the gardens and foster a strong connection to students, staff and the Green Heart community as a whole. After leaving the Charleston area for a year after her graduation to work in Boston, Allie quickly found her way back to the Green Heart Project. She is passionate about fostering a strong community around our gardens and instilling a culture of respect for ourselves, each other and the earth. allie@greenheartsc.org

Sean Murray
Farmer

Sean is a passionate farmer who loves his local community. In 2015, upon completing the Growing New Farmers program through College of Charleston he began his farming career. Sean operated Murray Heirlooms, a farm focused on growing organic, heirloom vegetables for some of the best restaurants in Charleston. He is excited to join the Green Heart team and share his knowledge with others in the community. He hopes to inspire a new generation to understand where their food comes from. When Sean’s hands aren’t in the dirt he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and watching the Boston Red Sox. sean@greenheartsc.org

Erin Snow
Development Coordinator

Erin has been an elementary school teacher for the last 10 years.  Her Kindergarten class became part of the first group of students to participate in The Green Heart Project at Meeting Street Academy in 2015, and she has been a champion of the program ever since.  One of her favorite qualities in others is curiosity, and she loves the way a garden sparks endless questions in kiddos and adults! erin@greenheartsc.org

Nicole Kleinas
Farm to School Program Director

Nicole’s background in ecology, coupled with her passion for sustainable food systems, brought her to The Green Heart Project. After working as a research scientist and completing her Master’s degree in Biology, she shifted her focus toward environmental education and outreach by leading education programs at a botanic garden in Georgia. She believes that gardening and growing one’s food facilitates a deep connection with the environment and serves as an effective platform by which to educate people about ecology. Nicole is eager to work with students and volunteers in the garden to cultivate deeper appreciation of the natural world. nicole@greenheartsc.org

Jane Rice
Senior Garden Educator

Jane first found an interest in gardening while in school at Roanoke College participating in the garden club. She has a background in environmental education, and working with students both inside and outside of the classroom. Jane loves bees and trying new food! 🐝 jane@greenheartsc.org

Board of Directors

Caroline Rion

President

Lucy Henderson Davis

Vice President

College of Charleston

Mark Furlong

Treasurer

Blackbaud

Clarissa Pryor

Secretary

Pinnacle Financial Partners

Ann Calhoun

Past President

Wes Carter

Member

Atlantic Packaging Co.

Danielle Daniels

Member

Charleston County School District

Karalee Nielsen Fallert

Member / Founder

All Good Industries

Katie Saylors

Member

SeamonWhiteside

Jarvis White

Member

JWhite Consulting Firm

Partners

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.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA)

Green Heart Partner

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Their mission is to deliver conservation solutions so agricultural producers can protect natural resources and feed a growing world.

Community Sponsors

USDA – NRCS

Community Sponsor

Karalee Nielsen-Fallert

Community Sponsor

Enston Home Trust

Community Sponsor

Spectrum Concessions

Community Sponsor

Steven and Maria Mungo

Community Sponsor

The Kennedy-Herterich Foundation

Community Sponsor

Yellowstone Landscape

Community Sponsor

Frederick C. Baker

Community Sponsor

Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation

Community Sponsor

Mary Ellen Way

Community Sponsor

City of Charleston

Community Sponsor

Stony Point Foundation

Community Sponsor

Limehouse Produce

Community Sponsor

William Enston Home

Community Sponsor

Lindsey & Wes Carter

Community Sponsor

Garden Sponsors

Ann & Jim Calhoun

Garden Sponsor

 

Pathfinder Foundation

Garden Sponsor

Roper St. Francis Hospital

Garden Sponsor

Basic Kitchen

Garden Sponsor

Revelry Brewing Company

Garden Sponsor

Charles Howell & Linda Maninger

Garden Sponsor

Pinnacle Financial Partners

Garden Sponsor

The Boeing Company

Garden Sponsor

James J. & Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation

Garden Sponsor

Kuznik Charitable Foundation

Garden Sponsor

County of Charleston

Garden Sponsor

Guffey Family Foundation

Garden Sponsor

James J. & Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation

Garden Sponsor

Harriett McDougal

Garden Sponsor

Westin and Marie Lord

Garden Sponsor

Coastal Community Foundation

Garden Sponsor

Program Sponsors

Kelly & Sean McGinty

Program Sponsor

The Agricultural Society of S.C.

Program Sponsor

Brad & Jola Newman

Program Sponsor

Banks Construction

Program Sponsor

Blue Ion

Program Sponsor

Community Foundation of New Jersey

Program Sponsor

Cooper River Bridge Run

Program Sponsor

Gaia Fund

Program Sponsor

Jean & James Rion Endowment of Coastal Community Foundation

Program Sponsor

Timothy R Liptak, DMD

Program Sponsor

James Dyke

Program Sponsor

Motley Rice

Program Sponsor

Susan Pearlstine

Program Sponsor

Robert L. & Mary J. Bartlett Foundation

Program Sponsor

SC Ports Authority

Program Sponsor

Sisters of Charity SC Foundation

Program Sponsor

TD Charitable Foundation

Program Sponsor

The DeeAnnFlores Schertz Foundation

Program Sponsor

Homegrown Hospitality

Program Sponsor

The Ripple Fund

Program Sponsor

Jerry Scheer

Program Sponsor

CLAY LUTON

Program Sponsor

FRANCIE & JOHN DOWNING

Program Sponsor

ICL Specialty Fertilizers

Program Sponsor

Kate Ritchie Charitable Fund of Foundation For The Carolinas

Program Sponsor

L. Russell Bennett Investment

Program Sponsor

MacNaughton Family Fund

Program Sponsor

Mira Winery

Program Sponsor

Morrison Yard

Program Sponsor

Studs, Inc.

Program Sponsor

Terri Henning

Program Sponsor

The Ceres Foundation

Program Sponsor

Class Sponsor

Caroline Rion
Holy City Children
Sean Murray
Meeting Street Lofts
Harriett E. Lee
Douglas & Frances Blom
Rich Yessian
Whole Kids Foundation
Fandiem
GrowFood Carolina
The Timber Shop
American Heart Association
Boeing ECF
Lowcountry Food Bank
Alex Opoulos
Ashley Rini
South State Bank
Sysco
Scott Sasser
Home Community Fund of Coastal Community Foundation of SC
Stephen Hanson
Austin and Jenna Elliot
Christ Our King Catholic Church
Beemok Family Foundation
Libby Smith
Oliver Gates
Liam and Adelie Duffy
Harriett Lee
Accountfully
Exchange Club of Charleston
Greystar
Loren Ziff and Michael Rabin
Rhapsody Fitness
Brittany and Marcus Bryant
Gia Rose Winchester
Ruth Barrow
Tope Leyimu
Grace Church Cathedral
Nathan K Harrison
Kendra Stewart
Solid Ground Electric
William Melvin Brown, III
Phicas Foundation
Stephanie Poteet
The Matching Fund Org
Daniel Island Community Fund
Meredith Ebenhoeh
Battelle
Daniel Berler
James August Biondi
Bryan & Anna Blom
Boomtown!
Sayre Briele
Melissa Britton
Charleston City Paper
Charleston Horticultural Society
Chip & Coleman Legerton
David Aylor Law Offices
Dr. B Gut Health
Monifa Ellington
Eventworks LLC
Deborah Fisher
Free Fly
Half Moon Outfitters
Ingevity
John Hooff
Peter & Cynthia Kellogg
Law Office of Alex Toporek
Dionne Louden
Erin Magee & Eric Knight
Marshall Walker Real Estate
Sam & Carly Moore
Post House
Michael Rabin
Sea-Green Farm
Seamon Whiteside
ServisFirst Bank
Elizabeth Smith
South Carolina Federal Credit Union
Southern Environmental Law Center
SURV
Phillips Family Fund
The John M. Rivers, Jr. Foundation
Martha and Jeff LeVeen
Agency 21 Consulting
Foote Family Charitable Fund
The Cassina Group
The Dampop Fund
Vanguard Charitable
Williams & Walsh Law Firm
Nancy Pickard
Temitope Leyimu
Weston Fennell
Stephanie Johnson
Magnolia Plantation Foundation
Abigail Walsh
Layton Register
Erin Ziegler
Jacien Steele
Atlantic Shield Insurance Group

In the News

The Green Heart Project
“Urban Farm: First Planting”
Count on 2
“Construction of urban farm in Downtown Charleston almost complete”
ABC 4
“The Green Heart Project and Clemson University Partnered to Build an Urban Farm Market Stand”
Fox 24
“Urban Farm at Enston Home Interview – Jesse Blom”
Live 5
“Urban Farm at Enston Home Interview”
The Green Heart Family
“Green Heart Thanksgiving Gratitude!”
STONE Media
“The Green Heart Project with Seamon Whiteside”
James Brown: Treehouse Productions
“Help Us Grow: The Green Heart Project”
Casey Toth of the Post & Courier
“The Green Heart Project Summer Camp”
College of Charleston
“Public Health Program and Farm-to-School Initiative”
Organic Process Productions
“The Green Heart Project”
“New Urban Farm at Charleston Affordable Housing Complex to Break Ground Next Month”
Urban Organic Gardener
November 7, 2019
“New Urban Farm at Charleston Affordable Housing Complex to Break Ground Next Month”
Urban Organic Gardener
November 7, 2019
“Helping Out”
Charleston Regional Business Journal
October 30, 2019
“Boeing Chooses College Farm-to School Initiative”
College of Charleston News Page
July 26, 2013
“Local Middle School Students Show Green Thumbs for Project”
Post & Courier
April 25, 2013
“Bridging the Farm-to-School GAP ”
Charleston City Paper
September 12, 2012
“Green Thumbs, and Hearts ”
Post & Courier
June 28, 2012
“Farm to School Program Takes Off”
ABC News 4 Charleston
May 24, 2012
“Green Heart Project Hosts Local Dinner at Mitchell Elementary School”
Charleston City Paper
May 24, 2012
“Green Heart Harvest Dinner”
Charleston Magazine
December 8, 2011