Beyond Recycling: Whole Foods Market Gives School Gardens a Big Boost

Posted by Andrea Locke On October 6, 2015 Filed under Program Update Volunteers 0 Comments

Whole Foods Market had a challenge on its hands: what to do with hundreds of large plastic barrels used in its food distribution facilities that needed to be disposed of sustainably and responsibly. Simply recycling the barrels did not seem good enough to the Whole Foods team — they needed a creative new idea.

Planters from Whole Foods Market arrive at the Holmes School in Dorchester.
Planters from Whole Foods Market arrive at the Holmes School in Dorchester.

That’s why Lee Kane, Whole Foods Market’s Mission and Culture Coach, approached CitySprouts with a plan: converting those barrels into planters for school gardens. The timing was perfect for CitySprouts, who had just entered into new school partnerships and needed to grow their garden spaces quickly. We reached out to the principals at two of our new schools — the Holmes Elementary and Baldwin Early Learning Center of Boston — as well as our longstanding partner, the Fletcher-Maynard Academy of Cambridge, to arrange the planter delivery.

CitySprouts Garden Coordinator Shay Chess with new planters at the Baldwin Early Learning Center
CitySprouts Garden Coordinator Shay Chess with new planters at the Baldwin Early Learning Center

“We are so pleased to have such great partners in this project,” said Lee Kane of Whole Foods Market. “We can’t think of a better purpose for these barrels than to turn them into opportunities to teach children about gardening.”

On September 30, Whole Foods Market delivered a total of 38 converted barrels to CitySprouts’ partner schools. Whole Foods Market supplemented their generous donation with gifts of high-quality soil and composting materials from Brick Ends Farm of South Hamilton and organic seeds from Wolcott, Vermont’s High Mowing Seeds. Peter Britton and James Gist of Brick Ends Farms helped Lee Kane and CitySprouts staff unload the planters.

“I have to admit I was skeptical at first,” said CitySprouts Director Jane Hirschi. “But what a wonderful gift this has turned out to be for the students at the Baldwin, Holmes and Fletcher Maynard.”

Lee Kane (Whole Foods Market), Robyn Burns (CitySprouts), Tavia Mead (Baldwin Early Learning Center), Shay Chess (CitySprouts), Petter Britton and James Gist (Brick Ends Farm)
Lee Kane (Whole Foods Market), Robyn Burns (CitySprouts), Tavia Mead (Baldwin Early Learning Center), Shay Chess (CitySprouts), Petter Britton and James Gist (Brick Ends Farm)
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