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Once upon a time, there was a boy named Jack...



...as the story goes, he was sent to the market to sell a cow so his family can afford to buy fresh food - but he came home with magic beans instead.


My name is Chonnie Richey and I am a member of the Lewisville Morning Rotary Club and Founder of Independence Gardens.


We all know the story of Jack and the Beanstalk - and his magic beans - The Fairy Tale.


But here's the reality.


Whether the child's name is Jack or Jill, in North Texas, 1 in 5 children do not have access to fresh food.


In the U.S., 13 million children live in food insecure homes; where 1 in 8 households struggle with food.


We see a world where water is becoming the new currency; and a global population poised to reach 9.7 billion in 2050.


We are facing a crisis and the relationship between water scarcity and food security is now becoming interlinked.


This is the reality we face, this is the reality Rotary faces.


But faced with daunting challenges - we, as Rotarians, are people of action.


We build communities by partnering with like-minded organizations who believe as we do.


Building resilient and sustainable communities that promote health, alleviate poverty, foster peace, and support education in our communities and beyond.


One such organization is Independence Gardens, a local nonprofit organization whose roots are based in Lewisville, Texas.




Founded in 2013, Independence Gardens mission is to connect children to food through actionable, impactful nutrition focused programs that give children in schools and communities access to fresh food.


Through the Apple Project (organic outdoor edible learning spaces), their trademarked chef-driven Come and EAT IT cooking program, and the Beanstalk HydroTower project, they have directly equipped and impacted over 10,000 children in Dallas/Ft. Worth.


In January of this year, Lewisville Morning Rotary partnered with Independence Gardens to install two hydroTowers at Central Elementary, our adopted campus.



Central Elementary, a Title I campus, where over 90% of the student population are on free or reduced lunch.


The campus where in the last Come and EAT IT program, a 4th grader discovered blueberries for the first time.


As a club, we embraced the "People of Action" mantra and introduced the project by competing with 4th graders on building the Towers.


I have never seen so many adults sweat so much at 7 a.m. in the morning - out of fear of losing to a group of 4th graders. And - btw, we won.



We kicked off the project with 100-4th graders discovering that plants grew without soil, seeding using rock wool, using only nutrient-rich water solutions.


The program provided a hands-on immersive experience, with teachers learning alongside students, developing critical thinking skills as they explored alternative solutions to global challenges like food security and environmental sustainability.


They began making connections to water conservation and growing food, not only in their local community but to the world beyond. Every single in the room, including my fellow Rotarians, began seeing themselves as stewards of a greener, more sustainable future.


In that moment, we embodied the mission of Rotary:


Service to others through shared goals of Fostering Peace.


Promoting health.


Supporting education worldwide.


We left the school knowing the following:


First: the Beanstalk project promoted sustainable agriculture, taughted and embraced a farming method that conserves water, reduces land use, and minimized the environmental impact compared to traditional agriculture.


Second: the program gave children in schools and communities year-round access to fresh, locally grown produce, addressing food insecurity and promoting healthy eating habits.


Third: Education empowerment. Through hands-on learning experiences, students gained a deeper understanding of sustainable food systems, empowering them to make informed choices about their health and become advocates for environmental stewardship.


We saw world changers in the making.


And fourth: Community engagement. The Beanstalk Project fosters parterships between schools, communities, and organizations, promoting collaboration and collective action towards sustainable development goals.

Rotary's mission of service and community engagement aligns perfectly with the collaborative nature of the Beanstalk Project. It represents a powerful platform for educating and inspiring the next generation.


With over 64,000 elementary schools in the country and Rotary Clubs in every state, imagine the impact we can make.


the Story is no longer a fairy tale.


Through our work, we will continue to sow the seeds of innovation, resilience, and compassion, ensuring a greener and more prosperous tomorrow for generations to come;


while ...


Equipping children with the knowledge and skills to build a brighter, more sustainable future for us all.


We're empowering them to write a better future, a more vibrant story, where we are accountalbe to the long-term health of our planet and where every child will always have access to fresh food.


No magic beans needed.


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