In 2015, Evergreen Packaging and KidsGardening.org launched the First Annual Carton 2 Garden contest. The Carton 2 Garden Contest is designed to inspire students to consider ways to creatively reuse and repurpose packaging enabling them to reconsider how they look at ‘waste’ and help them establish habits and attitudes that will benefit the environment. For the contest, students save and then repurpose milk and juice cartons from the school cafeteria or home to either build or enhance their school’s garden. Educators engage students in a hands-on experience creating teachable moments on environmental stewardship, sustainable packaging, and healthy living.
A total of 20 schools were recognized for their outstanding programs. 16 recipients received an award package valued at $1,000 and 4 received packages valued at $2,500. Recipients included:
Vanderlyn Elementary School – Dunwoody, GA
Wallenpaupack South Elementary School – Newfoundland, PA
Cordova Middle School – Cordova, TN
College, Career and Technology Academy – Pharr, TX
James Madison Elementary - Mesa, AZ
Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy – Atladena, CA
Rancho Dominquez Preparatory School – Long Beach, CA
Trafalgar Middle School - Cape Coral, FL
Windermere Elementary School - Windermere, FL
PR Academy - Austin, MN
Humboldt High School - St. Paul, MN
Noxton High School - Noxton, MT
Crockett Middle School - Hamilton, NJ
Mustang Creek Elementary School - Oklahoma City, OK
Osborne Elementary - Sewickley, PA
Idlewild Elementary - Memphis, TN
Avon Lenox School - Memphis, TN
Timber Academy High School - College Station, TX
Lincoln School Elementary – Madison, WI
Riverside Middle School - Watertown, WI
Results of the 2015 Carton 2 Garden Year End Report Survey, showed that 84% of the winning programs noticed an improvement in the environmental attitudes of the youth involved and 52.6% noted a high or moderate increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Many of the contest winners shared that their awards have helped support the installation of additional garden space and continuation of garden-related programming. As recipient Maureen Horn from Cordova Middle School told us, “Winning this contest has excited the school population, doubled club membership and has accelerated our pace towards establishing a full time year round gardening and recycling program”
Recipients received positive feedback about the program from students, parents, administrators and community members. 95% of the recipients plan to continue using cartons as part of the educational programming.
Here is a wonderful program summary from recipient Lizabeth Conklin from Wallenpaupack South Elementary School:
“Each year, I make plans for activities for the children for Earth Day. We typically clean up the gardens and school grounds in April and then in May I purchase flowers for our planters and gardens to enhance their eye appeal. This year, however, I came across the Carton2Garden website and the mission and purpose it proposed was exciting and inviting. How wonderful the idea of planting and growing our own flowers and vegetable plants?
In January, we began our planting journey with 2 feet of snow on the ground. The children and teachers were excited to plant the seeds and to reuse the milk cartons as our pots. With 5 bags of soil, we were watching our seedlings grow. We measured and graphed their progress, blogged about our results, and took pictures and videos to track our progress. Everyone in the school was totally on board and a new excitement for Earth day had evolved. As the project moved forward, we found teachers blogging their progress, taking pictures and videos of their plants, tasting and sampling their beans, putting pictures on Facebook, and we even Skyped both the New York Botanical Garden and the Mitahato Education Development Fund in rural Kenya. The teachers and children were totally involved with learning about gardening in the classroom.
Since then, we have build a 12' x 12' raised vegetable garden that we cared for all summer and donated the produce to a local Food Pantry. The church and Food Pantry were so impressed and loved the idea that we are to build 3 more 12' x 12' raised garden boxes this Fall. We have made plans to begin planting again in the January and we are also starting a composting area and trying to recycle plastic (currently our school only recycles paper). All of these things and this renewed interest in creating a sustainable garden and becoming better custodians of our Earth has been inspired by your contest and stories both past and present schools have contributed. This community project has become a real-life learning experience that will give our children the chance to give-back to their community!’ ”
For additional information about the 2015 Carton 2 Garden Winners visit: http://carton2garden.com/inspiration/contest-winners/spring-2015/