Leave It Better



1) What is our project? 

the reGeneration is a documentary- filmed by youth- as they build gardens, grow food, harvest and heal their communities. Through the course of production, students from school gardens all over the planet will reach a worldwide audience, sharing stories through digital storytelling.

You can follow the progress of the documentary at our online platform Leave It Better, where we continue to build a community of environmentally conscious kids and their family, friends and teachers.

2) How will we do this?

In 2009, the idea was born, when Leave It Better was part of the Producer's Institute at BAVC. There, we worked with mentors from around the world. One mentor, Lynette Wallworth helped us conceptualize new ways of engaging our audience, allowing them space to participate in the filmmaking process.

We started putting cameras in the hands of students at 2 schools that fall, and the following year expanded to 10 schools. We're partnered with a number of incredible organizations, including Bronx Green-UpGrow to LearnNew York Botanical Garden, and the NYC Compost Project

We've been honored to receive initial financial support from The MacArthur FoundationThe William and Flora Hewlett FoundationThe Nathan Cummings Foundation as well as from Chipotle.

In the spring 2011 of we launched a Kickstarter campaign for startup funds for the documentary. We successfully raised over $28,000.

Here's what we've been up to over the past year

* Students shot 150 hours of video as part of the only video-based school gardening program in the world (at least that we know of). Their mini-documentaries are above.

* Students ate more than 1,000 healthy meals -- food they grew themselves -- at harvest parties at each of our 10 New York City schools, capped with the big event at New York Botanical Garden.

* We’re selling produce from our gardens in June at the Heights Community Farmers’ Market.http://www.justfood.org/sites/default/files/120404_Leave_It_Better.pdf 

Our students also created 35 worm bins for vermicomposting. See our video tutorial: http://www.leaveitbetter.com/play/129/

* We sent Leave It Better cameras to 10 schools across the country as the start of a video pen-pal relationship among schools about gardening. Their videos will be posted on the Leave It Better web site.

* We forged an important new partnership with Bronxworks and with Veggie U, and have maintained partnerships with NYBG, Bronx Green Up, NYC Compost Project and Grow To Learn.

3) What the money is for:

The money will go towards the purchase of cameras for youth who are involved in agriculture around the world. Money will also go towards salary for directors, producers, and outreach coordinators who will help find schools, and facilitate the instruction of students in cinematography and story telling.

Leave It Better Foundation is a non-profit organization, so:

All contributions are tax-deductible.

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out our project. 


First off, would like to send a big thank you to all of the students, teachers and administration who have welcomed our program into their schools! There are too many to name, but you've all been so incredible to work with, and are such an inspiration :)

Secondly, a big thank you to all of the Leave It Better ReGeneration Corps, Cary, Emma, Jen, Tess. Thanks to Kei and Joe for their great work with the website... There's so much incredible work that's been done. Thanks so much to everyone who has helped out, to our partners. And thanks so much to my family, and to my friends who have made this happen.

Thirdly, Thanks to all of our incredible partners. Steve, Mark, Tim, Jessica & Ashley at Chipotle; Jamie, Ursula, Junior, Jodie Jennifer, Sara & Annie @ Bronx Green-up/ NYBG, Andrew, Jodie & Aki at NYC Compost Project, Madeleine and Julianne at Grow To Learn. Thanks so much to Robert at Bronxworks and Molly at Veggie U.