The Early Years: 1995-1998
In 1995, then CMS Principal Karl Pallastrini with research and data from Craig Hohenberger, gained approval from the Carmel Unified School Board to use district property for the Habitat Project, on an abandoned christmas tree farm adjacent to Carmel Middle School. The project raises $350,000 the following year and moves ahead with a Master Plan from Bud Whisler and the Carmel-by-the-Sea Garden Club.
Into the New Millennium: 1998-2001
Programming expands on the 10-acre Habitat site, while native plant restoration and capital investments continue, like a greenhouse, shade shed, and bird banding lab. Ellen Fondiler joins the organization as Project Manager and Director of Development in 2000.
A Focus on Food: 2001-2004
Preparations for the organic garden begin in 2001 with raised beds and continue in subsequent years with row cropping, a wood-fired pizza oven, a native bee garden, and a pond built with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Tanja Roos comes on board as Garden Manager and Program Coordinator in 2003 & the partnership with Casanova/La Bicyclette Restaurants begins.
Curriculum Integration: 2004-2007
The team works to strengthen its partnerships with CUSD and Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey, through classroom education and camp experiences. A new volunteer program helps connect adults to the property and programs at the Habitat, while a work-study internship brings in talented grad students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Building Green: 2007-2010
MEarth officially incorporates in 2008, as a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit and forms a board of directors. Plans are underway to build a state-of-the-art green building at The Habitat, with a half million dollars in seed funding from school bonds. Interns from AmeriCorps and Monterey Peninsula College bring their skills to MEarth.
Long-term sustainability: 2010-Present
The grand opening of the LEED-certified cooking classroom in March 2012 brings together many like-minded community members to celebrate this extraordinary educational resource for our region. Programming continues to be developed for an ever-widening circle of clients in Monterey County, ranging from the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District to high-end chef demos produced in partnership with the culinary team from Post Ranch Inn. MEarth is restructured to provide opportunities for year-round programming and efforts to increase community involvement and develop a more sustainable funding structure, continue.