Artwork for podcast GREEN Organic Garden Podcast
262. An Edible Education | Whole Kids Foundation | Nona Evans
10th February 2019 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 00:43:59

Share Episode


I’m just thrilled to be back behind the mic it’s January 7th. I have a great guest that was recommended by Lem Tingley from Growing Spaces in episode 256 and here from the Whole Kids Foundation is Nona Evans!

Whole Kids Foundation Facebook Page

It’s always so much fun to see how seeds that you sprinkled about germinate. It’s so fun to know how we connected!

Thank you so much! I reached out to you and you said you checked out the podcast and thought it’d be a perfect fit. Tell listeners about the Whole Kids Foundation  because I had never heard of it!

We are on the order of things, a pretty moderate size non-profit organization.

We are Whole Kids Foundation  and our mission to improve kids nutrition because we know when kids are well nourished they learn better have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

we found 3 ways we are capable of reaching children.


1. salad bar equipment for schools

Because the moment you put a salad bar in kids have the power of choice and kids get to choose the vegetables they want.


2. support school gardens

which is how I connected with you.

we have the honor and pleasure with supporting 

5,000 school gardens in 

USA, UK and canada

we know when kids are connected to the roots of their food they make better school choices. 

it’s not just kids

MomLikedVeggies.jpgThe secret is:

It’s not just kids it’s us adults too

when we start understanding what the magic we all make good choices.

Personally I’m a foodie

I’ve worked in the food business my whole life but I didn’t meet vegetables until I was well into my 20s. Kids need to know food needs to come.

Are you a rockstar millennial? Born between 80-95.

I was not

I’m much older then that. I spent 

  • 15 years working in conventional grocery stores
  • last 19 years at Whole Foods Markets 
  • closer to retirement if anything

You sure sound young! Is it related to Whole Foods or is it separate?

I worked at Whole Foods Markets 

Back in 2011, the companyWhole Foods Markets start a new foundation which is something they do. So we were founded by  Whole Foods Markets.

We are independent organization we are not connected now. 

Their ongoing gift to us which is amazing they provide the funs for the admin budget!

every dollar we raise goes to schools and programming

So it’s a wonderful thing they have done. We have work in every market, where there is a Whole Foods Markets 

100s of other stores.


So I have a question? What is salad bar equipment? Is that like knives and forks? or the salad bar itself? The fruit and salad bar was a huge hit at the schools I was at.

You bet!

we have learned over the 10 yeas we’ve been supporting salad bars there is 

one particular model that works really really well in 

  • high school
  • elementary schools
  • middle schools

Is a plastic model

  • really durable
  • chill pads to keep food cold and safe
  • super flexible

Generally you find the salad bar in the cafeteria which later becomes the gym and the theater

So they fold up and roll out of the way when we need to.

We provide the equipment

  • unit
  • knives for cutting up fresh vegetables
  • tongs
  • training

Probably more important than anything we provide is the training

if anyone is interested

It’s a website that has an amazing array of free tools that any school can use to improve their school lunch program!

I come from the grocery store and I always tell people if you can imagine I work in the

  • supplement area
  • bath and body products

If I had to leave the prepared foods department tomorrow and all the delicious scrumptious food and learn what to do to start. 

A school that has never cooked and prepped any food

That’s done with the cooks right? Not the students. 

generally work with school service

same cafeteria staff that serves school lunch today can supply and support and serve the salad bar

There are an amazing number of schools that are using another tool kit

to grow food at their school afters school and then use it in the cafeteria!

favorite projects to talk about is to 


Encinitas Union School District It’s the largest organic school farm in the nation

They are on about 9 acres, growing crops growing food in their High school kitchen! And then turned into recipes for their High School Food program!

It’s just thrilling!

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I think that’s a great question! You know I’m certain that I had some early garden experiences but the one that was really important to where I am now is I married a lovely fellow who’s family were German farmers. He always tells the story of how in middle school he bought the copy of the 

Square Foot Gardening

All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

and he put a paper bag cover on it so no one would figure out he was reading it about gardening. He inspired me one of our favorite activities was the day after election day we would go pick up all of the election signs on their wooden stakes and use those for our tomatoes. We were crafty back then!

That is crafty and I’ll be they were glad they didn’t have to pick them up themselves that you were recycling for them.

How did you learn how to garden organically?

I think because I’ve always loved food, the nature of organics was always second nature so in my garden, I never wanted to use pesticides but there’s so much more to organic gardening

time and travel

Because I travel extensively,

  • I get to see other people’s practices
  • tuning into this podcast!
  • then just trial and error have taught me most of what I know well

mother nature that can work

Two of my favorites

because we get to garden at whole kids with people all over the country and sometimes we bring them to Texas! 

I didn’t realize that not everywhere has fire ants!

Now any time we do a volunteer project I’m always sure to tell people watch for fire ants! They are really challenging!

I didn’t know that cayenne pepper can relocate them very effectively! So I always keep a big carafe of cayenne pepper in my garden.

I battled snails for a long time. I tried to do it humanely and someone told me about a beer trap that was a good organic solution!

I want to hear about the fire ants because some of my guests have talked about the struggle with fire ants. Especially Jenny Jackson down in Georgia, they’re like a family farm, I know they have a new baby.

They don’t like it. I’m not sure it could work on the scale of a farm but for my backyard that’s 200 square feet it will locate them. 

Grocery Girl

I’ll see them crop up in the corner of my basil bed so I sprinkle a little application of cayenne and they’ll usually go somewhere else and I can usually get them out of the garden beds. That has been my experience! And I’m a grocery girl, so it’s pretty good return on your investment! Low cost.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

It’s so funny! I think as a multi year gardeners, just because it grew well this year doesn’t mean anything!

this year it was kale

I actually planted from seed in 2017m in Texas we had that hurricane Harvey that blew through. All of my beautiful kale plants were literally laying on the soil!,all I could do

The kale just regrew! I had the same kale for us for 2 years!

so well, I let it go to seed, I decided I was going to let it save the seed

if you have never saved kale seed for about 2 acres!

it is a commitment! They are teeny teeny and wow is it time intense!

I let it go to seed in its own spot. I loved the pretty yellow flowers. 

I will relish any time I get to pay $3-4 for a packet of kale seeds now. Did you it’s a delicacy! The kale flowers.

Restaurants are selling them at a premium! 

They roast the seeds themselves?

not the seeds the kale flowers!

I kind of fell in love with kale last year. I didn’t really like it but I fell in love with that lacinto kale last year. Now the curly kale that came back in the spring I have to say was so tender and delicious I mean I never tasted anything so sweet. It was like adding maple syrup to my stir fry!

I will send you some great recipes!

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

There’s 2 things

For a couple of years now I have always wanted to grow amaranth I just think it is so amazingly beautiful and talk about health value. I’m not sure it would make it to the table but I  enjoy it in the bouquets

IDK if you have met the folks at Row 7 seeds

Chef Dan Barber

stone barns


because we have cultivated crops for their ship ability and longevity

Row 7 seeds

just about flavor!

they might look funny

might not ship across the country really well but they have amazing flavor!

beets and peppers

I would like to talk to as many chefs as I can.

I have a question about amaranth, because it’s a great cover crop right even if it doesn’t get harvested at least it’s good for the soil right? I struggle to grow it too. 

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

I think what I have learned over more seasons then I care to admit and I always end up planting something for the benefit for the garden friends.

Sometimes it’s the dill that I plant that I don’t eat but it’s just for the monarch butterflies

Last year it was chard, I do so well with my chard, but last years chard was just for the snails.


That could be tough. I love chard! I had so much between the chard and the kale I don’t think I bought a salad from August till November. What I love about rainbow chard is I will eat it instead of celery those big stems!

That was the thing that I was like OK! you guys have the chard and stay off everything else and we’re good! It’s a symbiosis! 

I love your attitude about it too! Like it wasn’t such a giant loss you felt compelled you had to get rid of the snails. You just sacrificed it to the snails!

We can grow something for mother nature.

Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links






More from YouTube