Imagine yourself atop a tall mountain gleaming with fresh white snow. Skis tightly tucked under your arms, goggles pressed against your face, excitement stirring in the pit of your stomach at the sight of a beautiful fresh steep run of snow waiting for you. All you have to do is shove yourself to a start and you will be racing down the mountain in great glee and joy!
Welcome to Green Our Planet 2023 where our entire team, sunlight sparkling on our hair, races down the mountain at full tilt into a New Year full of potential. This year we celebrate our 10th year working with teachers, students and parents in school gardens and hydroponics laboratories across the United States. From the first garden planted in 2013 we are now working with more than 600 schools in 37 states. And this year we are expanding internationally!
The need for gardens was a simmering song beneath the earth
It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago Kim and I sat at our kitchen table across from each other, messy piles of paperwork between us, chatting about the teachers and principals who were reaching out to us to see if we could help them get gardens built in Las Vegas. We were fascinated that so many teachers were clamoring for gardens. It felt like a need that was bigger than just one garden at a school and more like a simmering song beneath the earth. Ah, yes a movement was stirring. And that’s what Green Our Planet is a part of. We are a part of a movement of passionate teachers, principals, students, parents, community members who yearn to put their hands in the dirt, to pull a ripe tomato from a vine, who deeply need a connection to the planet. Deep down we all know that connecting ourselves and our children to the planet is a way for us to become whole, to return home.
And so, Kim and I want to say thank you! Thank you so much to our team, our students, teachers, principals, sponsors, supporters, partners and community members for working so hard over the past years so that together here in the middle of the Mojave Desert we were able to create one of the largest and most impactful school garden and hydroponics programs in the country. Thanks to all of you, we are now working with thousands of teachers and communities in 37 states, from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between, positively impacting the lives of over 200,000 students. And we are only getting started!
Green Our Planet’s Success stories
2022 was an embarrassment of riches of success stories for the team. From a successful launch of the GardenConnect program at 50 schools across the country to the first scaling of the hydroponics program to 200 schools and libraries in more than 30 states. The Business Development team tripled our budget to over $7 million and our Farmer Team reinvented themselves and added a maintenance crew to the mix. The People and Culture team hired 20 new team members while the Nutrition Chef team educated thousands of students online, including for the first time students in other states. We held two very successful Giant Student Farmers Markets and the first Secret Garden Party.
Meanwhile, the Green Our Planet Studios team brought the number of videos we’ve created to over 300 while innovating wildly using V-tubing technology and creating pilots for three new video series. The curriculum team created an entire new hydroponics curriculum for middle and high school, the first one available to standards in the country. This is also the first year we have launched a comprehensive metrics program, where we will be surveying the impact of our programs on students and teachers. The HydroHealth team innovated new systems and expanded from 3 to 9 locations. I could go on and on, but let’s face it, you are ready to get skiing…. so you get the picture. It’s been a phenomenal year. And that could not have happened without each and everyone one of you.
3 areas of focus for 2023
So looking ahead, 2023 shines brightly indeed. This year we will be placing a big focus on establishing comprehensive technology systems and processes to help us streamline our programs. First and foremost, this includes our new Green Our Planet Magic Garden Portal, which launched in September. It’s a learning management system that hosts all our resources, videos and training sessions. Getting all of our teachers onto the portal will allow them not only access to resources but also to each other so that we can truly build the movement that excites all of us. We will also be developing Hubspot out to support building a new sales and marketing team as well as allowing us to run the farmer and coordinator programs that we offer more efficiently.
Our second area of focus is developing a comprehensive marketing strategy for the first time in our history now that we’ve hired a new marketing company to work with us. And we have a new PR partner to focus on spreading our story beyond Nevada and into every small town and village. Our third area of focus for this year is coaching and training team members who show promise of becoming leaders in the company as well as hiring new leaders to join us so that we can truly take advantage of all the possibilities and potential that lie before us so that together we can continue to create joy and justice in education for students across America.
So are you fired up? Ready to go? We hope so. Let’s get going..shooop!
Thought Seeds by Ciara Byrne, CEO of Green Our Planet
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