Kimbal Musk’s Kitchen family of companies has a shared vision of strengthening communities through real food. Two of the ways it does so are through its for-profit restaurants, which source and prepare real food from local farmers, and its nonprofit, Big Green (BG), which builds Learning Gardens to scale (at least 100 in each city) at schools across the country. There are two Kitchen restaurants, The Kitchen American Bistro and Next Door American Eatery, in our community. BG built 100 Learning Gardens here between 2016 and 2017.

In this film, we visit at Next Door with Marie Dennan, program manager for BG in Memphis. She describes the work of the nonprofit and her passion for teaching, gardening, and changing the world through real food. BG aims to improve the health of students and communities by creating experiential learning and garden-based education opportunities in low-income schools, increasing access to and preference for real food. It provides programming to teachers that includes lessons (from planting to growing to harvesting) that fit within their planned curriculum and meet required standards, and recipes and other ideas for incorporating the produce into the school community, whether it’s used in preparing snacks in the classroom or sent home with students to enjoy with their families. Marie shares that some of the high school students they teach have never touched soil before. BG’s bold goal is to expand to ten regions and reach 1,000,000 students in 1000 schools by 2020. Building Learning Gardens to scale enables BG to work more efficiently and cost-effectively and accelerates a shift in food culture within a community. Marie is hopeful that the harvest will be hearty, that the next generation of students will have more understanding of where food comes from, how to grow it, and how important it is to eat healthy. We are thankful for the amazing and abundant work of the Kitchen Companies to make our city and world stronger, cleaner, healthier, and happier.