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RainGarden5October 24, 2011 – Growing Green at Andrew Cooke Magnet School, a garden/greenhouse science curricular program that brings together the living landscape with the core concepts taught by science curriculum, has won a $5,000 garden grant from Gardener’s Supply and Green Education Foundation (GEF). The grant, part of GEF’s Green Thumb Challenge, called on youth gardening programs from across the country to submit entries that demonstrated the impact of their garden on the community. According to Maree Gaetani, Gardening Relations Director at Gardener’s Supply, "The Growing Green program at Andrew Cooke Magnet School is an exemplary model of a Gardener's Supply Green Thumb Challenge grant winner. The school was able to transform unused space into a flourishing learning environment that incorporates standards-based lessons for students of all ages, as well as successfully involving the greater community."

The Growing Green program at Andrew Cooke Magnet School teaches skills that can be used over a lifetime and teaches students that science is all around them.  The Waukegan, Illinois school aggressively started rehabilitating an idle greenhouse in 2008 and plans on installing a venting system in order to regulate temperature in the garden. Their unique program teaches students about the natural relationships between water, energy, air, gardening, and plant/flower pollination.  By creating a living landscape, lessons are supplemented by hands-on experiments and activities. These gardens plants beautify the community, increase wildlife, improve nutrition, and save money on food. Students become more responsible citizens by learning how to make smarter grocery decisions and how to practice of sustainable horticulture at home. Todd Freer, the leader of Growing Green and a science teacher at Andrew Cooke Magnet School, says, “It is a perfect platform to teach elementary school students because of the skill-set, depth of knowledge and the critical thinking required to design, build and manage a garden, and have it be successful within the forces of nature.  The type of learning involved will prepare the students for success in the 21st century.” 

GEF, a sustainability education non-profit, launched the Green Thumb Challenge in late 2009. The largest youth gardening initiative in history, the Green Thumb Challenge is a free program that mobilizes schools and youth groups to plant gardens and incorporate standards-based lessons and activities related to gardening in the classroom. GEF’s comprehensive website, includes all the resources and tools necessary to start a garden, incorporate lessons and activities, and have a successful, sustainable garden program.




About Green Education Foundation (GEF)
GEF is a non-profit organization committed to creating a sustainable future through education. GEF offers free school programs that provide curricula and hands-on activities to excite and inspire K-12 students and teachers to think holistically about global environmental solutions. GEF’s mission is to empower a new generation of environmental stewards while preparing them for the new 21st century clean energy economy. Visit to become a member.

About Gardener’s Supply Company
Founded in 1983, Gardener's Supply ( is an employee-owned company that serves gardeners nationwide.  Gardener’s Supply is known for providing innovative garden-tested, earth-friendly products combined with practical information.  Located in Burlington, Vermont, the company has won many awards for its patented products and progressive management style.   Gardener’s Supply actively promotes gardening as a way for people to make a difference in their own backyards, in their communities, and in the world at large. 



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