Neighborhood Open House/Community Work Day Planned for June 16

Learn Grow Give, a joint venture of Kansas City Community Gardens, Friends of Hale Cook, and The GivingGrove, has been chosen as the 2012-2013 Centurion Legacy Project by the Greater Kansas City Chamber ofCommerce. In addition to funding, the grant program provides 350 volunteer service hours.

Learn Grow Give focuses on revitalization of the grounds at Hale Cook Elementary School, located at 73rd Streetand Pennsylvania Ave. in Kansas City, which closed in 2009. Ashley Z. Hand, Chair of Friends of Hale Cook and also a Centurion, highlighted the Learn Grow Give Project as a unique opportunity to bring life and new purpose to the school grounds as the neighborhood seeks to reopen the school in 2013.

“This Legacy project creates a model of healthy, engaged living that we want for our children, our schooland our neighborhood,” she said. “This community gardening project also fits with the group’s embrace of multiculturalism, social responsibility, and personal accountability.”

The venture will create the area’s first “edible tree garden,” a planned combination of fruit and nut trees,perennials and brambles designed for both beauty and food production. Giving Grove founder Kevin Birzer explained the concept: “Edible tree gardens are places where you can enjoy beautiful space and benefit from their harvests – peaceful places that provide ongoing, healthy food to those in need.” In keeping with the group’s philosophy, a portion of each harvest will be donated to local hunger-relief agencies.

Also unique to this project is the design of a replicable model. Ben Sharda, Executive Director of Kansas City Community Gardens, said, “By repurposing this valuable open space at Hale Cook for growing food, we are creating a model of partnership around urban sustainability that could be transferred to similar underutilized sites across the area.”

Strengthened by the support of the Centurions, the Learn Grow Give partnership will create a scenic outdoor laboratory, a place where children and neighbors can work side-by-side learning about sustainable agriculture,growing their own healthy food, and giving back to the surrounding community.

Centurions, neighbors and supporters of Hale Cook can tour the grounds and building to learn more about this venture at an Open House/Community Work Day scheduled for Saturday, June 16, 2012 10AM to Noon. Tours start at 10:30AM.

For more information, please contact Ashley Z. Hand at or 917-974-1891.

The Centurions Leadership Program of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce is a two-year  program for future Kansas City leaders. Since 1976, the program has trained more than 1000 professional men and women to have a positive impact on the communities they serve.

Kansas City Community Gardens is a not-for-profit organization that provides self-help and educational assistance to low-income people, children and community groups in the metropolitan area to grow their own foodfrom garden plots located in backyards, vacant lots, schoolyards and at community sites. Contact: Ben ShardaTel: 816-931-3877Cell: 816-591-1274Email:

The Giving Grove is a not-for-profit that develops replicable models for sustainable food forests, facilitates theimplementation of those models by bringing together the needed resources and provides a portion of the producefrom each food forest to feed those in need. Contact: Jill Quigley Tel: 913-541-9645 Cell: 913-481-4603Email:

Friends of Hale Cook is not-for-profit committed to reopening Hale Cook Elementary as a public neighborhood school in the Waldo-Brookside neighborhood. A community-driven initiative, the organization engages neighborsto actively shape the future of public education for academic and personal success through volunteerism andrevitalization of this valuable civic center. Contact: Ashley Z. Hand Cell: 917-974-1891 Email: