Charlotte-based non-profit teaches students science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills through sustainable farming practices to promote environmental justice.
100 Gardens partners with local schools, institutions, and communities of need to provide hands-on learning in STEM, with an additional emphasis on nutrition and business.
It does so by implementing aquaponics farming programs in schools and other institutions of need. Aquaponics is a farming method that raising edible freshwater fish and vegetables together in a symbiotic environment. This practice allows the recycling and conserving of water, takes pressure off oceans by farming fish, and grows fresh vegetables for an increasing human population which particularly benefits urban settings.
The organization hopes that young people, the future stewards of our environment, will think differently about where their food comes from while learning the tangible skills to make an impact. In 2019 alone, the program produced 775 pounds of fish and 45,976 servings of vegetables and worked with 600 students across 11 schools.
Its goal is to develop 100 aquaponic garden centers. Though 100 Gardens began as a program to serve K-12 students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, the organization has since begun to work with incarcerated individuals at Berkshire County Education and Corrections Services in a commercial-scale aquaponics lab.
“100 Gardens is an innovative program that simultaneously addresses food justice, sustainability, and education in Charlotte and beyond. Their work has the potential to transform how younger generations think about food, health, and the environment,” says Erik Schalburg, Director of Enterprise Architecture and longtime supporter of 100 Gardens.
100 Gardens presents the annual Homegrown Tomato Festival in support of its programming. The Festival, this year held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, brought notable speakers including chef and food activist Alice Waters, television host and gardener Joe Lamp’l, author and non-profit leader Stephen Ritz, comedian Tara Brown, and others.