After the 2010 earthquake left destruction all over Haiti in its wake, local architect Ron Morgan dreamed up 100 Gardens.
The nonprofit educates students on sustainable living using hands-on techniques while feeding the hungry locally and connecting them to the youth of developing countries.
The backbone of the program is the use of aquaponic gardens, which grow plants by fertilizing them with the waste water from fish in a sustainable, closed system. Its focus on aquaponics as “experimental learning” and a “sustainable means of food production for the future” has spread to eight gardens. There are currently six are in Mecklenburg County and two in Haiti.
Now the nonprofit has partnered with Plaza Midwood’s Pure Pizza to increase the conversation around sustainable living.
But just as it benefits the students taking part in the program, it benefits Juli Ghazi, owner of Pure Pizza.
“The kids are growing with a purpose,” she said in a press release. “They are able to create economic value and it gives them the opportunity to know what they are learning is real and that it can be applied in a real way.”
Students benefit from exposure to free job training and evidence that sustainable lifestyles are achievable through a fully hands-on way of learning. By the same token, the food grown by students is used to make Ghazi’s pizza, which is made exclusively with healthy, farm-to-table toppings grown locally and/or organically.
100 Gardens Vice President Sam Fleming is excited about the partnership and the doors it will undoubtedly open for both businesses and the students.
“We are leveraging businesses in the community by allowing them to be able to add educational value to what we provide,” he stated. “Julie, at absolutely no cost to the schools, can provide real life job training, free education and inspiration for the kids.”
The gardens are also teaching the same lessons to those in detention centers. 100 Gardens is aiming to expand its reach by creating 100 gardens in schools and prisons, which would give them access to 300,000 people eager to learn per year. Through that reach, Fleming says that the goal is to “pave the path” in Charlotte and solve health problems while using agriculture to create education and jobs.