The seed for The Edible Classroom was planted several years ago when founders, Grace Julian and Beth Horst, saw an opportunity for their respective elementary schools to create something beautiful from empty, unused pavement on school property. Both founding women are lovers of learning, gardening, and the outdoors. They saw the potential for underutilized blacktop to be repurposed into a productive learning environment.
So Beth and Grace began bringing their dreams to life with the help of administration, staff, parents, and outside organizations. Years of volunteerism at their children's schools solidified their love of using creative, hands-on education to engage children in the world around them.
Grace and Beth crossed paths in yet another way while working for a private estate gardener. During their work days, they would share their love for the volunteer work they were doing at their schools. They swapped stories about what was working, what was challenging, and what they envisioned for the future of their gardens.
After several summers of discussing their respective efforts, they felt that a bigger opportunity existed to bring this experience to other schools. Armed with their own success stories, experience, and a passion to guide children in the joys of gardening, they formed The Edible Classroom.
Grace's love for gardening, passion for teaching, and enthusiasm to work collaboratively have culminated in the foundation of The Edible Classroom. With training through the Penn State Extension Master Gardener program and Longwood Gardens, she has volunteered her time over the past five years helping grades K-6 discover the wonders of gardening. As a coach, she's brought wide-eyed grins to the faces of her Lancaster County Junior Envirothon teams over the past eight years. She's worn many different hats — coordinator, coach, camp director — but creatively engaging the minds and hands of students has been a hallmark of her efforts. Grace's gardening adventures have taken her across Lancaster County, allowing her to "dig in the dirt" with children, senior citizens, and all ages in between. Grace and her husband, Mike, live in Washington Boro with their three children, two cats, and ten chickens.
For the past decade, Beth has had her hands in the dirt in one way or another, whether it be working in her home garden, coordinating her children’s elementary school garden, or working for a local estate gardener. An educator by trade, Beth spent seven years teaching middle school Language Arts in the Lampeter-Strasburg School District. With a background in education and a love of gardening, Beth brings to The Edible Classroom an intense interest in educating students beyond the borders of the traditional classroom. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bloomsburg University and Secondary Certification from Millersville University. She resides in Conestoga, PA with her husband, Mike and their three children and dog. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading, outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends.