The Approach

The Rebel Gardeners is an immersive food education project created at Pepper Middle School in Southwest Philadelphia through a partnership between the school, the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Each educational activity shares the same goal-  to create a healthier community. We work in schools where lunches are wrapped in plastic and live in neighborhoods where junk food is everywhere. These are problems just waiting to be solved.

We learn about the food system, and thereby a huge array of interconnected disciplines, by trying to change it. We seek out and build mutually beneficial partnerships to maximize our collective impact on improving the health of our school and community.


Cooking the freshly harvested food from the garden takes up a lot of our time. In the Cooking section there are a series of projects that involve processing fresh foods into delicious snack and meals, all housed in a classroom we convert into a kitchen.
Growing our own fruits and vegetables without chemicals ensures our access to fresh, healthy foods. Maintaining the school garden provides ample opportunities for hands-on learning. In the Gardening section there are a series of projects that involve sowing seeds, harvesting veggies, and the transformation of a garden into an experiential outdoor classroom.
Beyond learning how to grow and cook our own fresh foods, we document our work to spread awareness and knowledge to our whole community. In the Media section there are a series of projects that involve journalistic writing, photography, and video editing.