Earth Month is a great time to recommit to the environment, but I’m more in awe of companies that illustrate that year-round. One of our newest brand partners, Yes To, has been making philanthropy a priority since they launched the company in 2006. (Fun fact: in the short time since they started, they’ve become the second biggest natural beauty company in the United States.) This month, they’re launching their most ambitious campaign to date, the Yes to Hope project. It takes their Yes to Seed fund, which works to plant gardens in schools across the United States, and extends it to schools in Africa. Beyond helping feed and educate children, the initiative also pairs each African school with an American one. Watch their inspiring video to see the kids in action. I spoke to co-founder Ido Leffler about the project and what it means to him and the company.
What has been the impact of Yes to Seeds?
It was really important to us for kids to understand where their food comes from. So many schools have lost funding for extracurricular activities and this gives them a really good outlet. Kids who have learning disabilities or other things affecting their lives, if you give them ground to work with or something to plant, it’s beautiful how they flourish.
How does Yes to Hope fit in?
Yes to Hope campaign came about when I met these two incredible women who are the founders of Mama Hope and saw what great work they were doing. After a one-hour meeting, we hatched up this grand plan to feed hundreds of thousands of kids. We decided to plant organic agricultural fields around the schools and get the schools to nurture and yield the crops. Take those vegetables and put those into the school lunches. The whole idea is get these kids fed, get them the ingredients they needed, and then connect them to a local school here so they could teach each other.
That’s amazing! How is it going?
We’ve already planted our first seed in the ground at our first school, Ngeya Primary School in Maai Mahui, Kenya. We’ll be doing another eight in Africa this year. We’re already able to supplement the lunches of 1,800 children and with those schools, that will bring the total to 15,000. Our goal is to help supplement the daily lunches of 100,000 children across Africa by 2014.
What is the connection between kids and gardens?
Every night, my daughter and I go down and pick the vegetables for our dinner. As a three-year-old, she has so much pride in her garden. I think it’s really important to give kids that sense of ownership and pride and feeling that they’re growing something. There’s nothing more exciting than watching something to grow.
How are you celebrating Earth Day?
We’re doing a bunch of things around the holiday as a team and a family. Earth Day for us means connecting as a group, connecting as a community. For me personally, I am taking an official day off and hanging out with my kid in the garden.