Gardening for Life

Sow Much Good, a local community organization dedicated to empowering residents to improve their health through better nutrition, has created an outdoor classroom and garden at Ashley Park Elementary in Charlotte. Supported through local corporate groups including Wells Fargo, Sow Much Good’s founder, Robin Emmons has worked with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to create a space that will allow students to plant and harvest fresh vegetables by the end of the school year.

Ashley Park’s attendance zone includes areas classified as “food deserts” by research completed in the past year by faculty at UNC Charlotte. These food deserts lack full service grocery stores, limiting nutritious food options. This lack of fresh food has been shown to be related to adverse health outcomes for residents (Click here to see research on food deserts and health outcomes in Charlotte).

Emmons’ group hopes to improve students’ understanding of the importance of healthy eating. According to Emmons, student performance can also be adversely affected by the quality of food available. By involving the school and the community, the project introduces community gardening as well as health and nutrition information. Emmons worked with the CMS Office of Strategic Partnerships to identify the location and coordinate with the school.

Data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction show that in the 2009-2010 school year, more than 90% of Ashley Park students were minorities. The data also show that during that same year more than 90% of Ashley Park students received free or reduced priced lunches.

For more information about Sow Much Good go to

John Chesser