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Green in Action Runner-Up

Carolina High School and Academy
Community Garden and Environmental Club

Greenville, SC


Carolina High School is located just a few miles outside of the thriving and vibrant downtown of Greenville, South Carolina. Yet our school serves a student body with a 96% poverty rate. As stated by one of our students, “Many families and students that come to our school have little to no access to fresh and healthy food, or in some cases, no food at all.” A couple years ago, a group of students and faculty members created the Carolina High School Food Pantry in order to help discretely meet the needs of many of our students and their families in difficult times.

Last year, students taking AP Environmental Science were inspired by the ideas of sustainability and urban farming, deciding to take action into their own hands and research, design, and build our very own school garden to provide healthy, nutritious, produce to our students and their families through our food pantry. Students worked in teams to develop the most cost-effective and sustainable designs and presented them to leaders in our school. Attached, you will see a student-created painting portraying the future vision of our school garden.

After seeing and hearing about these events, many students have stepped forward this year and taken initiative to be leaders in our school community by beginning our very own Environmental Club, which seeks to promote environmental awareness and increase sustainability around our campus.

Environmental Club President Erik Ortiz states, “I was encouraged to gather friends who wanted to create a solution that would meet both the need of providing people in our community with healthy fresh food and improve our sustainability. The first step we wook was creating the first Environmental Club in order to oversee and expand our community garden.

This year, our garden has tripled in size! Students see what is happening with the community garden and want to be apart of it. The garden is not only feeding people, it is increasing the pride in our community!” Our goal is to be an example of how urban farming can meet many needs: providing fresh produce to people living in poverty (often times in food deserts like our community), raising awareness about living more sustainably, increasing pride in our school, and empowering students from all backgrounds to go and be agents of change in their community and the world.


In addition to the community garden, our Environmental Club is taking initiative to organize events to raise awareness about current environmental issues. This year, the club organized our first ever Earth Day Awareness Campaign. Students in our environmental science class research and created videos about different endangered species. These videos were shown on our our morning news show each day of the week surrounding Earth Day. Students also created flyers with QR Codes, linking viewers to the videos, which were incorporated into a creative, student-designed “Tree of Life” display in the main hallway at school. The display acted as a form of art that others could interact with through the personal electronic devices.

Great things are happening at Carolina! Students have stated, “I didn’t realize how passionate I was about this until now,” or, “There seems to be a sense of security and empowerment here that we didn’t have before.” As a teacher here at Carolina, I continue to be amazed by the transformation that I am seeing happen in our student body’s perception of our school simply because we planted a few raised garden beds! It is my hope that we can continue to cultivate this newly-found “Homegrown Trojan Pride” as well as meet the needs of our unique community through sustainable practices.