FORT MYERS, Fla. (Oct. 9, 2013) – Island Coast High School’s Academy of Natural Resources Director Joe Mallon, along with some of the academy’s students, installed stack garden, a vertical garden made to experience the immediate benefits of small-space gardening, at Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. in Fort Myers and planted the organization’s first crop of vegetables.

Here at the academy, we teach the students the importance of sustainability and creating as much food as we can while taking minimal resources from the planet so future generations will also have those resources available to them,” said Mallon. “This stack-garden project is a win-win for all: our students get to demonstrate the sustainable hydroponic lessons learned in the classroom by putting those lessons to use in a real-world situation that benefits the community, while CCMI now has a sustainable food source for its Fort Myers’ Everyday Café. We are reducing our carbon footprint for the good of us all one project at a time.”

Being both nutritional and cost effective, the 100-pot stack garden will provide fresh food on CCMI’s property while maximizing the organization’s limited space. The inaugural launch of the stack garden will include tomatoes, snap beans, romaine lettuce, broccoli, basil and parsley.

“CCMI is fortunate to have a great community partnership with ICHS’s Academy of Natural Resources, said Meghan Madden, director of Food Innovation at CCMI. “We have been frequent recipients of its tilapia and garden harvests the past couple of years. To have the academy’s guidance and professional consultation on our stack garden design and installation has been a blessing all around.”

Island Coast High School partnered with the University of Florida to create a one-of-a-kind academy in Lee County, the Academy of Natural Resources. The Academy enrolls 150 students from Lee County who learn about aquaculture, aquaponics, hydroponics, alternative energies, ecological restoration and environmental stewardship while utilizing fish farms as well as indoor and outdoor hydroponics. The Academy of Natural Resources provides a foundation for students planning to pursue a career in the environmental job market.

CCMI is an innovative nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization made up of social service entrepreneurs fighting to end homelessness and hunger in our community. The agency provides more than 15,000 meals each month through its Everyday Café and Marketplace and Home Delivered Meals programs. CCMI also educates 35 children in its Community Montessori, offers homeless and comprehensive case coaching services through its United Way Resource House, oversees an emergency mobile food pantry and supplies weekend backpacks full of food to more than 1,500 children each school year.

CCMI serves Fort Myers and the greater Lee County area, including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral and Lehigh Acres. CCMI works in partnership with United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades, Harry Chapin Food Bank and various community foundations as well as collaborating with fellow community and service groups including The School District of Lee County and numerous churches, businesses and community support organizations.

For more information, call 239-332-7687 or visit

Tracey Galloway, Meghan Madden, Joe Mallon and Cherie Sukovich

Mitchell Palmer, 17

Joe Mallon and German Santiago

Joe Mallon installing stack gardens at CCMI