CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- A small downtown Charleston produce market and urban farm is looking to provide greater access to local produce and change the way children think about eating their fruits and vegetables.

The Green Heart Project is a Charleston-based nonprofit organization that specializes in farm-to-school education.

18 local schools have built farm gardens with the purpose of teaching students how to grow different types of vegetables. Those vegetables are then sold at a weekly produce market, something the Green Heart Project said is much needed in the area.

“In many parts of downtown Charleston and in the Charleston area, you don’t have many full-service grocery stores so a lot of the students or children that grow up in these areas grow up relying on other food sources,” Jesse Blom, Executive Director of the Green Heart Project said. “So, it’s important to give them exposure to fresh produce when we can.”

It’s a pay-what-can market where residents can plant their own crops and children can learn a new life skill.

“One of the things I love about garden projects like this is it will engage students who might not be as engaged in the classroom,” Blom said. “They’ll really get engaged in the hands-on outdoor learning, so it’s another way to enrich their education.”

Kimberly Perrineau-Jackson has worked with the Green Heart Project for just over two years and said she appreciates how something as simple as a fruit or vegetable can mean so much for a child.

“It’s actually changed how they eat, it’s changed their perspective about healthy food, and having access to it, so yeah it makes a big difference,” Perrineau-Jackson said.

According to Farm to School Program Manager Allie Astor, the project has grown significantly reaching thousands of social media followers.

“We’ve had multiple people come up who have lived around this area for years and they all come up and be like ‘I just saw this on Instagram today, I didn’t know this existed,’ so it’s really cool to see people kind of coming into the Green Heart fold,” Astor said.

You can donate to Project Green Heart here.


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