June 8, 2017
Creators of America's Largest School Garden Program

The Year In Review: Thank You to Switch!
The past school year has been an exciting one for Green Our Planet and for school gardens in the CCSD.  Green Our Planet recently built it's 114th school garden in the district.  The organization put on the 4th Annual School Garden Conference at the Rob Roy Innevation Center for over 300 teachers, held the largest student-run farmers market with over 300 students participating, trained over 300 teachers in 5 training sessions on how to use the STEAM curriculum in the school gardens, installed 30 pollinator gardens across the CCSD, put on over 60 chef demonstrations at schools, and helped organize over 150 farmers markets at CCSD schools among other things.  None of this would have been possible without Green Our Planet's one and only Platinum Sponsor, Switch.  
Switch is not only Green Our Planet's biggest financial backer, but they support us with office space at the Innevation Center for the more than a dozen Green Our Planet employees, host the Green Our Planet school garden conference, and provide conference rooms for hundreds of meetings that Green Our Planet conducts over the year. "Without Switch's remarkable commitment, there would be no Green Our Planet," said Green Our Planet, Co-CEO Kim MacQuarrie. "Not only is their financial backing critical, but knowing that Rob Roy and his team at Switch--one of the most successful tech companies in the world--is backing you is psychologically empowering for the entire Green Our Planet team.  Switch's commitment to bringing to life a true STEAM educational experience for the children in our school district and their culture of making the impossible possible is now part of the DNA at Green Our Planet."

Kristi Overgaard, EVP of Awesomeness at Switch, serves on the Green Our Planet Board of Directors and provides help and guidance in many ways. "Green Our Planet's mission to help create green schools across Nevada aligns with Switch's unwavering support for providing living labs for STEAM education experiences and echoes our commitment to green energy and the environment, said Overgaard.  “We believe in the Karmic value that if you put good energy into the world, it will come back to you.  Children expanding their minds and learning science, math, the art of sustainable garden design, and the humanity of seeing their gardens provide sustaining nourishment for themselves and others---that is the ultimate win-win.”

Thank you Switch for an awesome year of school gardening in the CCSD!

Green Our Planet Partners With Zappos, Switch, The Mentors Foundation, Bank of Nevada and the CCSD To Create The Largest Student-Run Farmers Market Ever Held In America

30 CCSD Schools and 300 Students Participated

The Green Our Planet Student Farmers Market: top left, the vegetable booths at Zappos headquarters in downtown Las Vegas; top right, Rundle Elementary School's booth;  bottom left, two students from Bracken Elementary; bottom right, two entrepreneurs from Jack Dailey ES manning the cash box.
Early in the morning on May 4th, buses began to collect students from 30 different public schools in Las Vegas, each group carrying boxes and ice chests and bags stuffed with zucchini, chard, lettuce, okra, tomatoes, green beans, squash and other vegetables grown in their school gardens. None of the students knew it at the time, but they were about to make history: together, they would assemble to create the largest student-run farmers market ever held in America.

"We began talking with Zappos, Switch and the Mentor's Foundation about a year ago about the possibility of doing this," said Ciara Byrne, Co-Director of Green Our Planet. "The largest farmers market we'd helped create was last spring, when we had 16 schools sell their produce at all four of the Whole Foods stores."

Green Our Planet actually pioneered the creation of student-run farmers markets--at least at the elementary school level--three years ago. In the fall of 2013, the nonprofit helped a local downtown school--John S Park Elementary--organize a farmers market. The school sold out in 20 minutes. With that modest beginning, the organization grew the number of schools and participants. Last year, Green Our Planet helped organize 125 farmers markets at CCSD schools.. This year, they have helped organize more than 150. 

"We actually have the whole concept of farmers markets embedded in our STEAM curriculum," Byrne says. "It's called the "Farm-Preneur" Program."

In it, students in 5th grade learn all about profit and loss, marketing, and other business concepts while turning their school gardens into profit-making ventures. All of the money is then re-invested in the school's garden program.

On May 4th, Bank of Nevada also partnered with Green Our Planet by providing a Bank of Nevada banker to help out at each booth by teaching students how to make change and provide good customer service. Schools made an average of $300 during the two hour market while some schools such as Parson ES made a lot more.  The students from Parson took $950 back to their school!

"Students are very creative," Byrne says. "Some of them made lavender-scented candles from flowers in their gardens. Others converted can tops into refrigerator magnets--all with a garden theme. We'll be organizing this event twice a year from now on," she says. "So the students will learn from each other--this was the first time they really found out what the word competition means!"

Many thanks to Zappos, Switch (Green Our Planet's platinum sponsor), the Mentor's Foundation, and to all of the teachers, principals, students and schools that participated. See you next fall! 
The (Drew) Brees Dream Foundation Partners with Green Our Planet To Build School Gardens
Left to Right: NFL Saints quarterback Drew Brees discussing school gardens with Green Our Planet Co-Founders Kim MacQuarrie and Ciara Byrne on Saturday, June 4th in Las Vegas.
On Friday, June 2nd, volunteers from the Brees Dream Foundation and the Super Service Challenge arrived in Las Vegas to participate in building a garden at Lewis Rowe Elementary, a Title 1 school in Las Vegas. It was the 114th garden Green Our Planet helped build in the CCSD. Volunteers from United Way, the Super Service Challenge, UNCE, UNLV, and Lewis Rowe also helped out, despite temperatures over 100 degrees. The Brees Dream Foundation works to improve the quality of life for cancer patients, and to provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need. At Lewis Rowe, more than 80% of the children receive free or reduced-price lunches. Now they will have their first school garden and start growing food on their own!  Thanks to John Guedry, CEO of Bank of Nevada and Chris Cappas, Vice President of Volunteer Engagement at United Way, the two Co-CEOs of Green Our Planet, Ciara Byrne and Kim MacQuarrie got to spend some time discussing the school garden program with Drew and Brittany Brees.  
Green Our Planet Collaborates to Install Pollinator Gardens at 30 CCSD Schools
On April 11th, the Green Our Planet team fanned out across the CCSD with carloads of Desert Marigolds, Fire Penstemons, Brittlebrush, three species of native milkweeds and other flowering plants in order to install pollinator gardens at selected schools. In total, and in collaboration with the Southern Nevada Milkweed Foundation, Green Our Planet helped install 30 pollinator gardens. By choosing a mix of native species that flower year-round, the gardens require little care other than natural rainfall, yet attract a host of native pollinating insects that in turn will pollinate the nearby vegetable beds and fruit trees. The three species of milkweed that were planted will specifically attract migrating Monarch Butterflies, which lay their eggs solely upon native milkweed. Monarch populations have plummeted nation-wide, due in large part to the eradication of native milkweed. By planting milkweed at CCSD schools, the Monarch's habit can be increased, which will help restore the population of butterflies and other beneficial insects. Next year, the program will be expanded to more schools.
Below: The Green Our Planet team with a sampling of native plants.
The 4th Annual Green Our Planet School Garden Conference Held
On April 29th, Green Our Planet held its 4th Annual School Garden Conference, hosted by the Innevation Center and sponsored by  Switch, the Mentors Foundation, the University Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. More than 300 teachers, administrators and school garden aficionados attended more than 50 panels and individual presentations on everything from "how to's" on composting and chef demos to how to get hydroponics and garden clubs going at your schools. The keynote speaker was Andrew Nowak, of the Slow Foods Movement, whom the NV Dept of Agriculture had flown in from Denver. Food was generously donated by Whole Foods, Krayvings, Starbucks, and Virgin Cheese.
Top Photo: County Commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Chris Giunchigliani addressing the attendees.
Green Our Planet Teams up With Opportunity Village, The National Hardware Association and the Las Vegas Visitors & Convention Authority for Garden Donations
Above: Opportunity Village presented Green Our Planet donation items collected from the National Hardware Show at the Opportunity Village Thrift Store on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. From left to right: Steve Black, Green Our Planet special projects director; Sue Kurland, Opportunity Village Thrift Store manager; OV Client Robert L., driver assistant for the Opportunity Village Thrift Store; Kim MacQuarrie, co-director and co-founder of Green Our Planet; Jose Luis-Vasquez, Opportunity Village Thrift Store driver. 
(PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau).

Spotlight on Sarah Russell

Green Our Planet's New Special Projects Coordinator

(This article is re-printed from the Innevation Center's "Innevation Spotlight."  Sarah Russell initially worked with Green Our Planet thanks to a grant from The Mentors Foundation.  In mid-May Sarah became a full-time employee at Green Our Planet).  



What does your company do?

Green Our Planet is an environmental education nonprofit that runs the largest school garden program in the nation! We’ve built 114 school gardens in Las Vegas area elementary, middle, and high schools. We also provide a comprehensive outdoor garden classroom program, giving schools curriculum to use in the garden and programming such as chef demos, student farmers markets, hydroponics, and more!

What is your role?
I wear many hats! Along with coordinating volunteers, grantwriting, and supporting the garden build process, I also plan and run our annual School Garden Conference where teachers and the public learn about the impact of school gardens and share ideas to grow the school garden movement (no pun intended). I also planned and ran the largest student farmers market in the nation, where Green Our Planet teamed up with Zappos to bring 280 students from 28 schools downtown to sell their garden-grown produce to the public! It was a blast, and we’re hoping to hold the market biannually.

Where did you grow up and attend school?
I grew up in Northern Virginia, just outside of D.C. I received a BA in International Studies from Indiana University Bloomington and I received my MS in Environmental Policy & Management from University of Denver.

What brought you to The Innevation Center?
I was searching for volunteer opportunities in the environmental field when I found Green Our Planet, and in turn The Innevation Center! I hadn’t experienced working in a co-working space before, but I love it!

How has technology changed your business?
Technology is a major part of our business. Though we can build a garden with our hands and simple tools, the planning and execution of farmers markets, chef demos, and composting relies on technology. We also rely on technology for our Teacher Trainings and Conference, where teachers, administrators, and parents learn about the gardens through digital presentations and recordings of best practices. Finally, technology is becoming a major influencer of food production through urban farming. We teach technology-based urban farming through hydroponics at our schools!

What is your favorite local spot?
Red Rock Canyon or Atomic Liquors

Phone call or text message?
Depends on the conversation!

Twitter or Facebook?
Facebook – I only have a Twitter to follow NHL news!

Who would you most like to have dinner with (dead or alive)?
William Shakespeare or Bill Nye

If you could time travel, would you go forward or backward?
Forward, to a time where space travel is as cheap as an airline ticket.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“If you’re going to crash and burn, make an explosion”

Garden Tip

By Emily Beamguard, horticulturalist at Green Our Planet
  Tasty Tomatoes
Store bought tomatoes can't compare to a  fresh garden  tomato!  Hopefully your      tomatoes had a productive  spring.  Now  that  temperatures are hot, tomatoes will  quit  setting fruit but existing fruit will ripen  on the  vine.  Read on before you pull your  tomato    plants due to the  heat of summer!
 There are two growing styles of tomatoes, determinate and indeterminate.  Determinate tomatoes are genetically programmed to grow to a certain size and then fruit.  They are smaller compact 'bush' varieties and will set all their fruit at once.  This style is perfect for home canners who want a large amount of tomatoes at once.  They also work well for container planting due their compact size.
Indeterminate tomatoes are the lanky sprawling plants that definitely need a sturdy cage to hold the branches up off the ground.  They will flower all along the stems over a long period of time.  If your indeterminate tomato plant looks healthy and strong, don't pull it!  Let it continue to grow through the summer for a HUGE crop of tomatoes when the temperatures cool down.  Keep an eye out for hornworms over the summer; they seem to devour an entire plant in a matter of days!  
Have a variety that did well or simply want more tomato plants this fall?  Tomatoes will root readily in water.  Look for a healthy side shoot and carefully bend and break off the shoot from the main stem.  Put it in a glass of water and roots should develop after 1-2 weeks.  Then you can pot it up in a gallon pot, keep it in a sunny window (or greenhouse) until new growth occurs and temperatures cool down. Don't forget to 'harden-off' the plant before planting.  This simply means move the plant outside for a couple hours, increasing the time outside over a week to allow the plant to get accustomed to being outside.  This prevents transplant shock.  Tomatoes are one of the few plants that benefit from a deep planting.  When transplanting, bury 1/3–1/2 of the stem to promote a deep root system.
Final tomato tip... They don't like to get showered with water.  Overhead watering promotes fungal infection.  It is best to water from the base.  Water deeply to promote a deep root system better able to withstand summer heat.
Happy Gardening!

The Year In Review In Photos

Green Our Planet's Platinum Sponsor is SWITCH and its office is headquartered at SWITCH's Innevation Center

View our STEAM lessons at:

Visit our school garden learning page

Contact us at:

Take a tour of an outdoor garden classroom with a third grader at:

Visit the largest student-run farmers market ever held in America at:
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