By Cheryl Hizer

IMG_2695George W Julian Elementary School 57, located at Ritter and Washington Street, was awarded a Learning Garden in April of this year. Installation took place on Tuesday, May 16. Students visited their new gardens by grade level immediately following installation, and with the help of The Kitchen Community educators, teachers, and family helpers, students planted crops of cilantro, beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and others. Students as young as kindergarten were instructed on the appropriate way to plant each seed and the best way to care for their new garden, and EVERYONE’S hands got dirty!


Starting with a staff of five in Boulder, Colorado in 2011, The Kitchen Community has installed over 300 Learning Gardens in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis. Each installation includes trained educators, three raised beds, seating, shade, art, curriculum, seeds, soil, and necessary tools for maintaining the plants.

CEO Kimbal Musk “co-founded The Kitchen Community in order to create a replicable, scalable school garden solution.” Schools and community centers that receive Learning Gardens also benefit from continued support from a team of educators and replenished seeds each growing season.

This amazing opportunity for our community materialized due to a curious parent and plain old-fashioned teamwork. Tara Elder discovered School 57 in some of her inquiries regarding area schools for her own children. Irvington families shared their love for this hidden gem with lots of history. After some discussion with Principal Ms. Campbell (thanks to an introduction through Brandon Randall, Parent Involvement Educator) Tara and other families toured the school and were blown away by the charm of the school’s wooden floors, ample staff and resources, exquisite library, newer construction, and small class sizes.

In the interest of adding project-based learning to the culture, Tara found The Learning Garden in her explorations. She took her idea to Ms. Campbell, who embraced it. They worked together with Mr. Randall to write and submit the grant in March.

Now that the Learning Gardens are planted, the work has just begun! Because the students are home for summer break, they must rely on volunteers to water the three raised flower beds. Besides feeling good about helping, you can also pick your fair share of ripe produce on your day! If you haven’t already added your name, please visit the sign-up and consider filling at least one slot!
If you have a talent or skill that you would be interested in sharing with middle school students in a club before or after school, please email Ms.Campbell

All grades need athletic coaches. Please reach out to if you would be able to share your coaching experience. If The Learning Garden sounds like an ideal fit for your own underserved school or community center, submit your application today!