Newsmakers Making A Difference: Adam Zmick, Gardeneers

Mike Krauser
May 10, 2018 - 9:29 am


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Spinach, tomatoes, carrots, peas and more are grown in student gardens around the city, to teach youth about healthy eating choices and gardening. 

Gardeneers is a non-profit working with Chicago schools, teaching students to garden and a few other things in the process.

“Our three pillars are nutrition, community and nature,” said Co-Founder and Executive Director Adam Zmick. “We work with 2,300 students, mostly on the South and West sides, teaching students about nutrition, community and nature through hands-on lessons in school gardens.”

Students are involved in the full seed-to-table process: picking out crops, planting seeds, tending to plants and harvesting food to taste, cook or sell. 

When WBBM Newsradio met Zmick he was working with students in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.

“This is a program that we run through After-School Matters.  The high school students grow flowers and food.  The flowers we sell to Flowers for Dreams. The students that work here get the proceeds...The food they use to feed themselves and their families and the community.”

In partnership with After School Matters, Gardeneers provides immersive programs for teens up to four days per week. 

They’re working with students from more than two dozen Chicago schools.

“We talk to the students about how to take care of their bodies, through diet and exercise, ways they can contribute to the community, through community service and through just being respectful good communicators, social and emotional skills.”


Zmick and co-founder May Tsupros started Gardeneers in 2013.

Both are Teach For America alumni, who taught in under-resourced high schools. They both realized, after working in 'food deserts,' how vital healthy food was to their students' growth.

One of their students was unable to identify a blueberry and it made them think about what their students were actually eating. The pair realized that a lack of healthy food was an obstacle to their students’ success.   

Gardeneers is designed to give students in 'food desert' communities equal access to healthy fruits and vegetables. They are dedicated to school garden education in Chicago and believe no matter where a student goes to school, everyone should have a garden program.

Since 2014, Gardeneers has grown to serve 1,800 students weekly in 26 Chicago area schools in 18 different neighborhoods all over the city. Their goal is to reach 5,000 students by the year 2020.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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