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|Little Green Gardeners is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that serves Oakland County, Michigan. Founded in 2011, its mission is to build vegetable gardens in elementary schools and teach gardening to children for their educational, physical, environmental, and emotional health.
One of the primary goals of Little Green Gardeners is to encourage children to enjoy trying and eating fresh vegetables. Since studies show that children are more likely to enjoy eating vegetables when they have grown them themselves, we know that vegetable gardening provides an invaluable learning experience for children. We also feel passionate about helping kids get away from things like video games, and instead get back to the basics of being outside, breathing fresh air, and moving around. Additionally, we have an interest in teaching our future leaders about the environmental benefits of local growing, which include reducing fuel use from transportation, and reducing pesticide use, just to name a few. And gardening teaches children to be patient, and we love seeing the sense of accomplishment that children gain when all of their efforts finally produce the first signs of vegetables.
Through activities such as donating vegetables to a soup kitchen, and selling vegetables at The Farmer's Market, the children have the opportunity to learn about social responsibility and entrepreneurialism. Additionally, teachers use the garden as a hands-on tool when teaching subjects such as science, math, etc. Rather than just learning about how plants grow, the garden enables the children to actually watch how they grow. Math skills are taught as they plan the spacing for the garden, and as they add and divide up the vegetables they produce.
Little Green Gardeners plans to build at least one new vegetable garden in an elementary school per year. If you would like to nominate an elementary school for consideration, please email us by clicking on the "contact" button in the main menu bar.
The Little Green Gardeners Board of Directors includes:
Kristen Taylor Urcan, Founder and President
Michael Urcan, Treasurer
Other key volunteers include:
Carla Culicerto, Public Relations
Kristin Greenwald, Photography
Katherine Baldini, Fundraising Advisor
We are currently looking for an Early Education Advisor, an Accountant, and an Attorney to donate some of their time and knowledge (it is a very minimal time requirement). If you can fill either of these volunteer positions (it's a resume-booster and good karma), please contact us!
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|In 1999, Kristen received her B.A. in Communication from the University of California San Diego. She then spent a few years working at an advertising agency before realizing that her true forte is photography and entrepreneurialism. In 2005 she started her own fashion-inspired wedding photography business, Kristen Taylor Photography, and in just a few years she grew it into a very successful business with a team of 10 employees. Kristen's passion for photography helped her to become one of the prominent wedding photographers in the Metro Detroit area. She brings this same amount of passion to gardening, and to everything she does.
After producing successful crops of delicious homegrown vegetables, and passionately loving the processes of tending to the plants, harvesting the crops, and eating the freshly picked herbs and vegetables, Kristen felt strongly that she wanted to share that immense amount of joy with others. Never having been the type of person to enjoy cooking, she found that once she started growing fresh herbs and vegetables, she suddenly loved to cook, especially with fresh and nutritious ingredients. She no longer was eating vegetables because she SHOULD, but rather because she really WANTED to, both for the amazing taste and the nutrients they contain. She found it very gratifying that she had grown them herself, that she was getting to eat them right after they had been so freshly harvested, and she truly wanted to bring this transformation to as many anti-vegetable kids as possible.
In California, where Kristen is originally from, there are non-profit organizations that bring vegetable gardens to elementary schools, and in fact many celebrities volunteer their time to come and help out. However, after moving to Michigan 10 years ago, she noticed that the Michigan elementary schools she saw did not have vegetable gardens, and so she decided to start a non-profit organization to raise money and begin to change that.
Kristen has taken numerous gardening workshops, and she is currently working to become a certified Master Gardener through the Michigan State University extension program.
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