262. An Edible Education | Whole Kids Foundation | Nona Evans

Nona Evans Whole Kids Foundation Team

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!

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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 http://amzn.to/1X3dFof

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



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Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!


Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

You know what I’m terrible at is thinning!

I can’t do it! My roots are always a mess!

You know what one of my goals is for 2019, is to build some of that seed tape, where you take strips of paper and flour water and spread your seeds out before you plant them. And the same with the beets.


I made some at a seed fair. And never made some of my own to try. And I’m like one of the paper mache words. I know thinning is tough. Last year I tried to transplant beets once and they kind of grew on top but they didn’t grow on the bottom or form beets.


fresh beet greens!

The beet greens were still good but I had so many greens, chard, kale, beet greens I couldn’t eat them all!

you know what I am going to try next because I always have more kale then my whole neighborhood can eat! 

kale powder

turn it into a blender and add it in 

plus maybe sneak it in for all those who aren’t big kale eaters!

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

I love soil prep

hands in the soil one of the most affordable and I love planting!

I love transplanting because it’s like instant garden! Sometimes growing from seed takes a little long for me!

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

I think the best thing someone told me when you’re talking about gardening there’s no such thing as failure it’s just mother nature teaching us lessons!

I always say failures are our stepping stones to success! I think you are right in gardening is true. It seems like it doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of July I’m like I know what I’m gonna do right next year and it gives you hope!

Yes it can become like a quest!

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?

It would absolutely be my pruners and my gloves!


I started bee keeping this year.

I used latex gloves because you have much more dexterity when you are doing an inspection

Often I would go straight to the garden after the inspection and they are the best in the garden because of that!

My mom gave me pruners last year and I love them!

  • those are my pride and joy
  • they have a special spot
  • nobody touches them and if they are gone there is panic!

I have 2 I think my favorite is friskers

I have this mailbox I want to keep mine in next year so they are in the garden. My husband even got me a newspaper tube to decorate. It’s not like a big hill, but I just think it will be more convenient and more deadheading will get done and more air flowing through things!


A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

You know what I have so many favorite recipes

if I couldn’t make basil and grow pesto I think I would perish!

that would be on the list

  • momma nona’s marinara
  • roma tomatoes
  • herbs from the garden
  • grow way
  • planting fresh herbs in my front yard

I love to hear about what other people make when they forage from the garden!

What a great way to meet your neighbors and share your abundance. 

Turns out we had a neighbor who was a chef who was shy to pick things. So I said I’m just gonna plant it in the front garden for you!

Nice my mom always had an herb rock garden in front of her house, but IDK if anyone ever came and asked what was growing.

there’s so much that

Penny Royal Collective

A favorite internet resource?

I do I think Pinterest is one of my favorites at the moment just because it’s sort of like a wheel of fortune! You never know what you are a going to find.

I’ve made some good discoveries, I also really love, here in Texas we have a local expert. His name is 

John Dromgoole

The Natural Gardener

because it’s climate relevant and he talks a lot about our zone

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

I’ll read any garden book I can get my hands on. I travel a ton so I love to look at the magazine rack at the airport if there’s some things I haven’t seen!

The thing I wait for the most is High Mowing Organic Seed Catalog

For me, that’s like one of those women’s glossy with all the clothes!  The seed catalog! I can’t wait to see what other people are growing!

That’s a great one and I think they also have lots of info about planting and seeds you might not normally get.

That’s another goal because I tend to procrastinate and end up just getting seeds at the store. So ordering seeds is definitely a great idea.

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to start a garden in school or I’d like to see more composting from the salad bar?

Absolutely! There’s so much opportunity!

If you either want to see a school near you or support a school that’s gardening or if you are interested as a gardener!

check out the whole kids foundation.org website

We actually have a map of every school we’ve supported you can put in an address to see if there’s a school near you. 

Or call or visit a local school and see what their interests are!

The thing that was most important was campus support

We always look for a letter of support from the principal, because very often it can be an enthusiastic parent or teacher but if the effort is not supported by campus that’s where it can be difficult but beyond that we have lots and lots of resources!

Depending on where your school is geographically or in their gardening efforts!

Connect with us! We love to have dialogue!

Is there anything else you wanted to talk about that I might not have mentioned?

I think, you had a questions what happens if you grow too much of anything?

I quite by happenstance, idk, I’m really good at growing herbs and I just can’t stand to see them go to waste!

one day on a whim, I grabbed a bundle of herbs and I just took it to one of my favorite coffee shops and gifted them to the cafe! A couple of them made it into recipes and I got a free coffee!

So I like to make some kindness in the world

As far as what we haven’t talked about,

the fate of our friends as a pollinators is really important!

One out of every 3 bites of food is from the work of a pollinator!

For those of us who love to grow food we need to have those folks!

One of the things we were doing was funding beehives for schools because our pollinators friends have so much to teach all of us, but especially our kids how to be better friends of the environment! And being better consumers so if youre a gardener and haven’t gotten curious there are some!! 

There are some great bee forums on Facebook and other social media!

We made the leap last spring and put some hives in my backyard and my garden harvest is so thankful for it!

You’re the second person that has said that this week! Our struggle is, I think we have bought 5 different hives at this point, idk …  one year we did really good, the first year we got a lot of honey and then they didn’t make it through the winter, the next year they swarmed a lot and it can be really expensive, we have the hives sitting here and I would love to fill them. I wonder what we can do to be better bee keepers

you know i think it’s a lot like gardening, and there are lots of lessons hard learned and we’re in Texas so it’s a little laughable 76º today, so overwintering is not our challenge. I’m not sure if I would be successful if I had to do with the frost

I don’t think it’s the frost that killed them I think it was something else.

I think having a good bee mentor!


Someone your can collaborate with. There’s a women in beekeeping on FB it’s always such a supportive space, lots of times the same questions can get asked and there’s always another answer or different perspective.

If you surround yourself with people who are passionate again its nature we don’t control it!

You learn

We’ve learned what the swarming behaviors are and we’ve put some swarm trap/boxes up. That way if it does swarm hopefully they will go to your swarm box and you can have a new colony!

My husband, he has done a few bee rescues

In our area honeybees like to live in water meter boxes and the utility will post any time a hive needs a new home and we’ve gotten 4-5 that way. So sometimes you have to be creative. 

That’s a great idea, I wonder if your utility has anything like that. I’ll have to look into that!

I would be there’s honeybee rescue.

Those are all great tips. That’s exactly what I was looking for!

Final question-

if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

We’re just so passionate about having a garden in every single school because we know if we teach kids from the time that they’re young where their food comes from and the importance of mother nature

we will have several next generations of

  • healthier eaters
  • better consumers and our
  • environment will benefit

one of our student friends

we were out in California

young lady Sally who gives a great lecture

“planting just one seed really can save the world!”

The joy of seed + sun + Water that gives a plant there’s magic there!

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

I think when you plant a seed you just never know what will grow

you can be certain it will be something wonderful a flower or food

What grows within ourselves is a fun discovery I never intended to lead an organization that supports school gardens in different countries, I just wanted to dig in the dirt

if you are adventurous see what will grow in your windowsill  but in your life!

How do we connect with you?

fb nonaevans on FB

wholekidsfoundation is on all platforms



or you can reach at us at info@wholefoodsfoundation.org

wants their school or is gardening they want support

grant application Sept 1st-Oct15th

$2000 grant for each school garden.

I like Facebook the best. I like the white space. I was just talking about it with a friend of mine, is I feel like you can’t share things on instagram I guess that’s what people don’t like. There’s things about instagram I like, pinterest I like but Facebook is the one I like the most.

it also is my garden shamer, the memories feature will remind me oh I didn’t get that in the ground this year! 

good motivation

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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