Elon Musk May Take Us to Mars, But His Brother is Saving the Earth With Learning Gardens

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Elon Musk May Take Us to Mars, But His Brother is Saving the EarthThink Elon Musk is the most important revolutionary entrepreneur amongst us? Well, then, you probably haven’t met his brother Kimbal Musk yet.

Kimbal Musk has set his sights not on rocket ships or futuristic cars, but dirt-in-the-ground homegrown food and food education.

While Kimbal was partners with brother Elon on Zip2 (which they sold for $300 million), he has been focused on The Kitchen Community, the nonprofit he co-founded in 2011 that brings Learning Gardens to schools and community gardens across the country.

“My goal is to go community by community and help improve the food culture, and get it to a place where we have a healthier society,” Musk told Fast Company.

It works like this: Musk targets a city and opens restaurants there with a focus on serving locally produced food. Then, the restaurants work with city funding and grants to help fund these “learning gardens,” which we all know by now, really do help improve the relationship children have with (healthy) food.

“These kids have no idea where meat comes from, or where a carrot comes from,” he said. “We show them pulling a carrot out of the ground and it is literally like a magic trick. They just have no experiential context around it.”

But if you think school gardens are nothing new, leave to a Musk brother to take it to an entirely new level: “Musk aims to build 100 per city,” reports Fast Company. Yes, that’s 100 learning gardens per city. Even in a city the size of Los Angeles, that’s a whole lot of garden.

“The challenge of school gardens is there’s no scale,” he says. “So until we came along, you’d create a beautiful school garden, and it would do incredibly good things, but it’s not like ‘Okay, now let’s do another 50 of these.’ … We now come in and apply the same amazing curriculum and environment that has had those good results, and we do 100 schools at a time.”

The program is two-pronged—reaching forward with the learning gardens to help educate and empower healthier eating choices for kids. But it also reaches back into the supply chain, encouraging and supporting wholesale suppliers and farmers to produce cleaner, healthier food along the lines of Chipotle’s commitment to locally grown produce. It’s kind of like having a restaurant at the farmers market that only uses produce from neighboring stalls to make its offerings.

“We’re working on building the local supply chain back up again, from virtually nonexistent, back to something that is scalable, functional, and affordable,” Musk said.

And Musk isn’t just satisfied with locally grown—he’s working to help farmers make the long (and costly) transition to certified organic.

“There’s an incredible amount of infrastructure and subsidy for big ag,” he says. “We’ve got to give something to the organic farmers so they can deliver to the demand. It would be a pittance, virtually not even a rounding error, for farmers to get support during that three-year transition period.”

While brother Elon sets his sights on colonizing Mars, Kimbal’s fifty-year plan of transforming this planet’s food culture in 100 cities may be not be quite as sexy, but at least, it’s more down to earth.

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Kid in garden image via Shutterstock

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