Innovation and Impact: Past Projects

Mountain Garden Initiative

Project Description

Mountain Garden Initiative is an environmental education project located in the Appalachian region of Kentucky that provides 150 fifth- and sixth-grade students a space to learn about food systems and gardening in a hands-on, outdoor environment. Located in a region with limited access to fresh produce, the project makes affordable healthy foods readily available to youth while also teaching gardening skills that they can take with them throughout their lives. Hilary Neff and Rachel Manning founded Mountain Garden Initiative in 2012, and Hilary will expand the project over the next year with the help of Oberlin’s Creativity and Leadership Fund.

About Hilary Neff

Hilary Neff graduated from Oberlin College in 2013 and will move to Southeastern Kentucky in August. Though she grew up along the coast near Los Angeles, Hilary has fallen in love with the middle of the country. During Hilary’s time at Oberlin, she majored in Environmental Studies and co-founded Mountain Garden Initiative. She was awarded the Dalai Lama Fellowship along with her colleague, Rachel Manning ’14, to support this project. During her last semester at Oberlin, Hilary applied for and won Oberlin’s Creativity and Leadership grant that will support Mountain Garden Initiative for the following year. She hopes to start school gardens around Appalachia over the next several years.