GreenStar Partners with Ithaca Children’s Garden

By Joe Romano, 

Marketing Manager

childrensgardenHow do Ithacans grow smart, strong, and healthy kids? With the Ithaca Children's Garden, of course! That is why GreenStar has partnered with ICG in a wide assortment of ongoing initiatives over the next four years. We have chosen ICG as a partner because of their history of teaching kids about the environment and their ongoing commitment to teaching kids about growing and eating healthy, sustainable food. "Everything we do at the Ithaca Children's Garden is done with one goal in mind: To inspire the next generation of environmental stewards," they say on their website. "We know the best way to do that is to get more children outside, with hands-on experiences, having fun in the natural world."

This is clearly aligned with GreenStar's Vision Statement in which "We envision a world that reveres the earth and the web of life it supports, where our choices are guided by stewardship, sustainability, and social justice."

This alignment was already enough of a reason to work with ICG, but when they decided to further their commitment to teaching kids how to grow and eat healthy food by building an outdoor kitchen we decided it was time to join forces as the ICG/GreenStar Partnership for Healthy Kids.

The partnership will allow the Ithaca Children's Garden to provision the new outdoor kitchen with pots, pans, and cooking supplies, plant the 50'x120' edible teaching and learning gardens, supply ICG's Organic Salad Farmers program with organic seed and growing medium, and stock the "pantry" for their garden chefs programs and camps with locally grown, high quality, GreenStar-purchased foodstuffs. The partnership will also make five need-based camp scholarships available.

The partnership will sustain the Edible Eco-Garden for four entire growing seasons and give valuable financial support to the Ithaca Children's Garden in carrying out important food gardening education for the benefit of the entire community. "One of the most unique aspects of what the Ithaca Children's Garden offers," says Executive Director Erin Marteal, "is an urban public garden in our city that is there for everyone. It is meant to benefit the entire community, with a major focus on the youngest generations."

As another aspect of the partnership, last month, during school break, GreenStar hosted the afternoon, indoor half of ICG's Winter Play Lab at our new Classrooms @ GreenStar. The kids chased chickens, explored electricity's relationship with the potato, and made and used their own plant dyes.

Just as ICG will make use of the Classrooms @ GreenStar during the winter months, we will be taking advantage of the Children's Garden as well as the outdoor kitchen during the summer months. Expect to hear more about GreenStar's new summer programming at ICG as the days get warmer.

Speaking of summer, the children will be making use of the outdoor kitchen during ICG's Summer Camp 2014, which will take place from June 30 to August 29. With topics like "Garden Magic, Fairies, Elves and Potions," "Garden Explorers, Habitat Mania,"' and "Nature's Play Corps: Swings, Pulleys, Slacklines," fun and learning are sure to go hand in muddy little hand. Registration is also open for the summer camps and as noted, GreenStar has sponsored five needs-based scholarships.

We will also support ICG as part of our 12 Days of Earth Day Celebration in April. This year, GreenStar is rolling out a new reusable bag program. We call it "Take a Bag, Use it for Good." The idea is that any time you use a reusable bag at checkout we will give you a "wooden nickel" that can be placed in one of three donation boxes. The Ithaca Children's Garden will be one of our first three organizations that will benefit from this new program aimed at reducing our business's environmental impact.

The co-op is again sponsoring an obstacle in the 2014 Tough Turtle race, which will take place on April 19. GreenStar is once again fielding a ten-person team, The GreenStar Killer Tomatoes, and are expected to again prove that healthy living works by tearing up the track. The friendly competition is a lot of fun, is family friendly, and all proceeds go to the Children's Garden. Registration is open at toughturtleithaca.com. Spaces are filling up fast!

All across the co-op world, we are faced with a reality: our memberships are slowly aging! We need young people to take up the torch of health and cooperation. The ICG/GreenStar Partnership for Healthy Kids helps accomplish just that, growing values we cherish while growing healthy food and healthy habits.

"We see our role as supporting their natural curiosity, and providing a strong message that children matter," says Marteal. "Simply speaking, healthy kids and a healthy environment go hand in glove, and we are working hard to support both! And we're positively thrilled to have GreenStar join us in this work, through a true commitment to quality of life for our community and youngest generations!

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