100 learning gardens coming to IPS Schools

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Kimbal Musk, the brother of the well-known billionaire Elon Musk, plans to build 100 learning gardens at IPS Schools in the next four years through his non-profit, The Kitchen Community. 

Musk has been taking a hiatus from the tech sector to pursue what he calls a greater mission of educating Americans about, "real food."

“I’ve watched us create an industrial food system that really unfortunately has created a lot of obesity and diabetes," Musk said. "And really the food isn’t really good either. So no one wins in this system.”

Musk recently announced he plans to open two farm to table restaurants in Indianapolis this summer. One will be on Mass Ave. and the other on College Ave. in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood.

"We want (people) to understand where the food comes from," Musk said. "Real food is food you trust to nourish your body, to nourish the farmer and to nourish the planet and there’s no better way to do that than to work with local farmers that we have a relationship with."

In addition to Musk's company opening restaurants in Indy, his nonprofit is planning to make a splash in Indianapolis by opening 100 learning gardens at IPS Schools by 2020.

Students have already started planting seeds in the gardens at four schools and the goal is have 20 completed by the end June.

“Indianapolis really wanted (the program). They wanted us to work in 100 schools. They wanted us to reach 60,000 to 70,000 kids. So for us going deep into a community is where I think you really make the difference,” Musk said. "We could sprinkle these throughout the country, but honestly I prefer to get to know a community and build roots and really be part of it.”

Indianapolis is the sixth city he has brought his mission to. It started in his hometown of Boulder and his nonprofit has now built more than 400 gardens around the United States.

"When I look at these learning gardens I see a sense a wonder and magic these kids will have all year long," Musk said.

The goal of the learning gardens is to introduce students to real food and educate them about healthy eating habits.

“So a kid sees a carrot growing or a head of lettuce growing in the garden and they don’t wrinkle their nose up and say, ‘ew I don’t like lettuce,'" The Kitchen Community's Regional Director Theresa Vernon said. "They say, 'I grew lettuce I want to try to eat that and see what it tastes like.'”

Each school will be able to decide what happens with the produce they grow. The gardens are designed to also serve as outdoor classrooms for teachers.

"Hopefully the idea of a learning garden and outdoor growing and outdoor learning will just become the norm for so many of our elementary schools here in the city," Cold Springs Schools Assistant Principal Tom Hakim said. "It could have a potentially a huge impact.”

Funding for the first 20 learning gardens in Indianapolis is set. The Kitchen Community is looking for money to build the next 80. All the money that comes from central Indiana will stay here in Indy. If you like to donate you can click here.