Girl planting small tree

Wendy Baker, Eric Johnson – Garden to Grinds Solar Project

Date grant awarded: June 2019

Wendy Baker and her team are working diligently to create a sustainable food system for our island of Pahoa. Organic gardening and its practices work to build vibrant communities grounded in fertile soil and healthy practices. They aim to reduce our carbon footprint by importing less and composting more. Through this work, they create diverse soil structures and communities that are resistant to disease, resilient in change, and are healthy enough to sustain long-term growth.

Students and community members alike benefit by seeing how small scale efforts make a significant impact. The Garden to Grinds program aims to feature garden products in our school and community. Ideally, through enthusiasm and passion for the work, youth develop a deep relationship with their environment, are inspired to pursue healthy habits such as gardening, eating well, and creating sustainable products that benefit both local and global communities.

To develop healthy relationships with the natural environment, our food, peers and selves is important. The aim of Garden to Grinds is to create harmonious garden environments that happily nurture healthy habits. The vision is to foster the next generation of individuals who know what good food is, appreciate where it comes from and understand how, with their own hands and available resources, to create sustainable food systems. Each individual has their own capacities that can be utilized and appreciated in a sustainable food system. Wendy is working on developing the capacity of each individual to contribute positively to the garden environment. Healthy habits stem from love of self and the environment. In the garden, the senses awaken and the mind opens. The garden is an ideal context for creating healthy habits and building positive relationships.

Since the initial grant in 2016, Garden to Grinds has blossomed! She has gained attention and support of the school administration and community, had garden areas fenced and protected from pigs, partnered with FoodCorps, received more than $5,000 in grants, was awarded a grant from Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, which included hosting a volunteer day where they planted more than thirty fruit trees on our high school campus! Currently she is partnering with a senior student and his community service crew to design and construct a processing station, and has developed infrastructure for other garden stations through quarterly community work days. She has taught more than 100 students and trained more than 50 teachers in School Garden Curriculum for Hawai`i. She is now working on county level professional development to support teachers who are incorporating school gardens in their curriculum and on a state level with Farm to School efforts to incorporate locally grown produce into school lunches. All of these efforts continue to build momentum and bring more positive, sustainable changes for a healthier population.

The follow up award allows me to improve on garden systems already in place. Our current processing station does not have hot water, and so we use our stove to boil water for dishes and heat hand washing water. This added step takes precious time from an already short class period when we are harvesting, prepping and sharing in fresh garden snacks. This solar hot water heater helps to create clean environments that keep our participants in Garden to Grinds safe and enables us to practice healthy habits. All additional funding goes toward small improvements that build the Garden to Grinds program and enhance healthy garden experiences. These additions help build momentum for the program and enthusiasm among the students and community members. The little improvements increase excellence, draw more people to the garden and increase exposure to healthy lifestyle choices. Thank you for your support!

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