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May 2019 Newsletter

Ciara Byrne Selected for Obama Foundation Fellowship

“I am honored to be a part of the 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows class and am excited to join such a diverse and talented class of community-minded civic innovators,” Ciara Byrne said. “With the support of the Obama Foundation, Green Our Planet will be able to continue to strengthen our work as a leader in the school garden movement in Nevada and across the country.”

Click here to read more on our blog about Green Our Planet’s role in the Obama Foundation Fellowship. To learn more about the Obama Foundation Fellowship and the 2019 Fellows, please visit

Recap: Giant Student Farmers Market Spring 2019

A student from Lowman Elementary School applies financial literacy skills at Green Our Planet’s Giant Student Farmers Market at Downtown Summerlin (Las Vegas, NV, April 2019).

On April 12, 2019, Green Our Planet hosted the bi-annual Giant Student Farmers Market at Downtown Summerlin, presented in partnership with The Howard Hughes Corporation and Clark County School District.

Nationally-renown hydroponics company Oasis Biotech shows off their vertical farming display at Green Our Planet’s Giant Student Farmers Market at Downtown Summerlin (Las Vegas, NV, April 2019)

During the market Oasis Biotech, one of the largest hydroponics companies in the United States, displayed their vertical farming system full of fresh lettuces to shoppers. The Las Vegas Aces, Fruits & Roots and local celebrity Zippy the Tortoise were some of many community members who visited the market to support the culmination of the students’ garden experience—showing off their school-grown produce while practicing financial literacy skills in the process!

Local celebrity and Instagram personality Zippy the Tortoise peruses the student-run booths at Green Our Planet’s Giant Student Farmers Market at Downtown Summerlin (Las Vegas, NV, April 2019)

At the end of the market, Foothills Montessori School was awarded Most Garden Team Spirit for their bee-inspired crafts and costumes. The effort and creativity put in by Goolsby Elementary earned them the Best Booth Decor award. Cunningham Elementary grew a whopping 8.8-pound radish that stole the Heaviest Vegetable award. And the originality of Sierra Vista’s mixed garden-media artwork won them Most Unique Item.

Congratulations to all the students—nearly 500 from 49 Southern Nevada schools—who made it to sell their school-garden goods at the Giant Student Farmers Market. Thank you to the financial institutions who sponsored and partnered with Green Our Planet’s Financial Literacy Program to teach fifth-grade students and help prepare them for the market. And thank you to our presenting sponsor The Howard Hughes Corporation for making this market so very special!

Above (left to right):  Foothills Montessori School won the award for Most Garden Team Spirit; Cunningham Elementary grew an 8.8-pound radish that stole the Heaviest Vegetable award; Sierra Vista High School’s mixed garden-media artwork won them the Most Unique Item award.

Green Our Planet Brings School Hydroponics to Northern Nevada

On March 13, 2019, Green Our Planet brought the magic of classroom hydroponics to three schools in Northern Nevada. Hydroponics systems made the trek from Las Vegas to St. Albert the Great School, Innovations HS in Reno and to Riverview Elementary in Dayton with one goal in mind: bringing hands-on STEM education to more Nevada students . . .

Click here to read more on our blog about Green Our Planet bringing farms of the future and more experiential learning to Northern Nevada!

school hydroponics and teacher training. the benefits of hydroponics
Green Our Planet Hydroponics Program Coordinator and Hydroponics Curriculum author Taylor Quiram teaches how to mix a nutrient solution for classroom hydroponics systems. March 2019. St. Albert the Great School, Reno, NV.

Thank you, Nevada State Bank, for sponsoring classroom hydroponics at Innovations High School in Reno, Nevada.

Green Our Planet Highlighted at BE Engaged 2019

(Las Vegas, NV, March 28, 2019) — Green Our Planet’s co-CEO Ciara Byrne speaks at the Business and Education “BE” Engaged Summit at The Smith Center. More than 400 business and education leaders gathered at the Summit to discuss how to best transform the K–12 public school system in Southern Nevada. Green Our Planet was one of the two nonprofits highlighted at the market, and had the opportunity to spread our mission to increase students’ opportunities to learn nutrition and STEM hands on in an outdoor classroom setting. Watch the video to hear Byrne’s speech at the Summit.

2019 School Garden Conference Recap

As the school garden movement continues to spread across Las Vegas, Nevada and the entire country, sharing knowledge and building community are more important than ever. Every year, Green Our Planet’s Annual School Garden Conference brings engaging keynote speakers, knowledgeable presenters and motivated attendees together for one incredible day of school garden goodness. This year’s conference was no different.

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By the numbers …

200+ attendees

25 inspiring presenters

18 phenomenal breakout sessions

3 countries represented

2 amazing keynote speakers

On Saturday, April 27, 2019, teachers, administrators and community partners streamed through the doors of Rob Roy’s Innevation Center to learn about school gardens, share tips and tricks and connect with other school gardeners.

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Keynote speakers Dr. Wayne Roberts (left), food policy analyst from Toronto, Canada, and Rick Sherman, Farm to School/School Garden Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Education, discussed school gardens on a global and state level.

Dr. Wayne Roberts, a food policy analyst from Canada, kicked the conference off with a talk on the multifunctionality of school gardens. Attendees then got down to the nitty-gritty of school gardening through breakout sessions facilitated by 25 presenters including teachers, horticulture experts, representatives from the Nevada Department of Agriculture and Clark County School District, nutritionists and chefs, and Green Our Planet staff members. The presenters covered everything from food preservation to organizing farmers markets and chef demos to using the school garden as a community-builder and culture-changer.

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Green Our Planet Teacher Training Manager Sue Cormier showed teachers how to integrate the garden into their routine with quick and easy garden lessons.

At the end of the day, Rick Sherman with the Oregon Department of Education shared Oregon’s school-garden journey and the framework Oregon schools now use to create and sustain their programs. Inspired by the keynote speakers and empowered with practical knowledge and tools from the breakout presentations, attendees left the School Garden Conference ready to forge ahead in the school garden revolution.

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Juliana Urtebey (left), Christene King (center), and Jessica Penrod, teachers at Crestwood Elementary School, discussed the elements of their successful garden club.

Many thanks to Silver State Schools Credit Union for supporting the School Garden Conference; to Café do Paraíso for keeping everyone happily caffeinated with organic, locally roasted coffee; and to Rob Roy’s Innevation Center and Switch for hosting the conference.

STEAM 102: Green Our Planet’s Newest Training

In March, Green Our Planet rolled out its newest teacher training, STEAM 102! The training focused on deepening teachers’ gardening content knowledge and practical skills.

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Teachers participated in several workshops focused on garden maintenance and ways to use harvest. Green Our Planet Farmers Brenda and Rosalie shared with teachers how to take care of trees, naturally deter pests, save seeds, compost and more. Teachers learned how to take their gardens to the next level and include students into the process of garden maintenance. Other workshops included Food Preservation taught by Green Our Planet Coordinator and Master Gardener Jeanne Toscano.

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Master Gardener Julia Winkler facilitated a hands-on bath bomb workshop. Using plant essences (essential oils) and herbs like lavender and mint, teachers made bath bombs and learned how to incorporate the project into their curriculum. Besides being a hot seller at markets, the bath bombs engage students with chemistry and help them make practical connections with the garden.

Along with learning hands-on, practical gardening knowledge, teachers took part in grade-level breakout sessions where they explored lessons from Green Our Planet’s STEAM Garden Curriculum. They modeled lessons to each other and discussed how they can extend the lessons and further incorporate the garden into science lessons.

Builds Builds Builds

Our organization moves fast—in our five years of existence, Green Our Planet has expanded garden programs to more than 160 schools in Nevada! This year, we recently launched hydroponics programming in Dayton and Reno in northern Nevada.

Green Our Planet’s garden builds is a driving force behind much of this expansion. Enjoy these highlights from our builds that have taken place in 2019.

Above left to right: Students with interactive garden artwork installed at Gilbert Academy’s garden expansion in March; Meadows Bank volunteers at KO Knudson garden build in May; Community and volunteers at Eileen Connors ES garden build in January 2019.

Farmer Tip

Green Our Planet Horticulturalist and Senior Farmer Rosalie Lavertu on how to combat summer pests

Most weeds to bugs love the warmth and the lush greenery summer provides, which is bad news for plants. Despite the heat, spending a little time in your garden everyday is the best way to prevent pest infestations of all kinds.

Farmer Rosalie with nutsedge, a common weed in Las Vegas.

As the weather warms up, plants start to grow extra fast—especially weeds. The best way to remove weeds is manually before they seed. Because weeds make hundreds of seeds, and preventing them from seeding will save lots of effort in the long run. Pulling weeds from Las Vegas’s tough “caliche” soil usually requires a tool of some sort to successfully remove the root. There are many different specialty tools available, but a shovel and a large screwdriver work great. You can keep aggressive weeds like Bermuda grass under control by applying a solution of 30% strength vinegar and orange oil weekly.  

The hot months of summer also welcome many destructive bugs, including tomato hornworms, squash bugs, June bugs and their grubs. Again, manual control is the best way to keep insects under control. Tomato hornworms are masters of disguise, but can be easily found using a blacklight at night. Squash bugs are easily controlled by daily removal of eggs or nymphs. June bug adults can be knocked down with fly swatters. When you come across their grubs while digging, feed them to the birds.

A tomato hornworm looks for its next meal.

Additionally, many natural or organic chemical controls are available and generally tailored to each insect. Hornworms and other caterpillars can be managed with Bt, a bacteria that essentially gives the caterpillars a tummy-ache. June bug grubs can be handled using milky spore, a soil dwelling bacteria which disrupts their ability to morph into adults. Squash bug nymphs can be sprayed with soapy water, but the adults are resistant.   

Growing plants that attract beneficial insects also keeps pests under control. Braconid wasps love parsley and dill flowers, and lay their eggs on tomato hornworms, which then hatch and feed on the hormworm. Tachinid flies, which lay their eggs on squash bugs, are attracted by carrot flowers, buckwheat and clover. 

By adding insect-attracting plants to your garden, using natural bacterial or chemical controls, and spending some time in the garden, you can keep pests at bay and enjoy a bountiful summer harvest!

Photo Gallery

Above: In May, celebrated chef, author and television personality, Giada De Laurentiis of teamed up with Jan Jones Blackhurst Elementary School to host ‘Snack in the Garden with Giada.’ She visited with over two dozen fifth grade students as a part of Green Our Planet’s Chef to School program. The students enjoyed a delicious sample of Giada’s famous Antipasti Salad from Pronto by Giada, her restaurant at Caesars Palace. After the demonstration, Giada toured the school’s garden with the students. The Jan Jones Blackhurst ES garden program is sponsored by Caesars Entertainment.

NFL Quarterback Drew Brees shows up for William Moore Elementary School Garden Build

Above: Green Our Planet Sponsor and Partner, NFL Quarterback Drew Brees and the team from The Brees Dream Foundation helped out at William Moore Elementary’s garden build on June 1. During the build, Brees met the students and community who look forward to using their new garden, and also partook in a game of catch! The Brees Dream Foundation sponsors Green Our Planet programming at Josh Stevens Elementary School in Henderson, Nevada.

And the Garden of the Month Award goes to …

Above (clockwise from top left): Congratulations to Green Our Planet’s Gardens of the Month in April and May—Dondero Elementary sponsored by Vegas Golden Knights Foundation and Ann Lynch Elementary sponsored by Shaq!

Highlight from the Giant Student Farmers Market
Above: Carolyn Swords from the Las Vegas Aces came out to support Vasiliadis Elementary fifth graders selling their school-grown produce at Green Our Planet’s Giant Farmers Market in April.
Green Our Planet’s Financial Literacy Program In Action

Above: Thanks to Wells Fargo teaching financial literacy lessons to fifth graders at Staton Elementary as part of Green Our Planet’s Financial Literacy Program. More than 100 financial institutions attended the Giant Student Farmers Market in April to help more than 500 students with marketing, money handling, and customer service for their garden-grown businesses!

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Green Our Planet is a creative, entrepreneurial, non-profit conservation organization that operates a free environmental crowdfunding platform and also runs the largest school garden program in the United States.

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