Making A Difference

The Seeds of Learning

Adam Zmick (MBA 2011)

Adam Zmick (MBA 2011) is cofounder of Gardeneers, an environmental education organization based in Chicago, Illinois. In this interview, he explains the connections between learning about food and children’s preparation for a healthy life.

“I always knew I wanted to make a difference, and I think that Harvard opened my eyes to the opportunities in which I could place my unique abilities in order to make a difference.

“Gardeneers is a nonprofit organization that does school garden programs for students. We work with about 1,000 students in 20 schools, mostly in low-income areas around Chicago. We teach students about nutrition, community, and the environment through hands-on lessons that take place in the garden. That means that we’re teaching students about how to take care of their bodies through both diet and exercise, how to interact with each other in a healthy and respectful manner, and the issues that are facing the planet and what they can do about them.

“They don’t know, most of the time, about where their food comes from. We’re incredibly disconnected, in this modern society, from the sources of our food and how that impacts both ourselves and our society and our planet.

“I think that kids these days are spending way too much time taking tests and doing rote memorization when they need to be outside and learning from experience. It reduces stress and improves behavior; it improves test scores. It is kind of a shame that there aren’t school gardens in every school.

“In Chicago, one in four students are obese and we spend as a nation a quarter of trillion dollars on diabetes, and that number is growing. More than 90 percent of that is related to diet and exercise.

“School gardens are the most impactful way of getting kids to eat better and make good decisions. If they start eating better as young people, they’ll continue to eat better throughout the rest of their lives.”

(Published November 2016)