Helping Students Discover Their Local Food Systems IN AMERICA

PROJECT LOCALIZE is an educational program that helps classrooms identify and promote sustainable economic, cultural and social progress in their communities. Students research what happens in a locally-based food system, conduct interviews with food producers, farmers, and key stakeholders at the local level, then turn their findings into information artworks that illustrate what sustainability looks like in their own backyards. This project-based learning experience concludes by showing students how to share their findings with a series of pop up shows and public events that put a name and a face on food in their communities.

Project Localize is a decorated program designed for juniors and seniors in high school. A related version of Project Localize is also offered for younger students upon request and a College level film production Project Localize program is in pilot form in the fall of 2015.

A Spanish language version of Project Localize is also available upon request.

Helping Students Discover Their Local Food Systems IN MEXICO

There is a robust program available in Mexico with a deeper focus on sustainable systems and capacity building  specifically in Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Sierra Gorda.

To learn  more about Proyecto Localiza

Proyecto Localiza - En Español

project localize awards

2014-2015 Student Information Artwork Finalists Gallery


FINALIST: Best New Lexicon Term

Value-Driven System

FINALIST: Best New Lexicon Term

Lunch Box Heroes

FINALIST: Best New Lexicon Term

Ash Free

WINNER: Best New Lexicon Term

We’re looking for a few good teachers


Are you a high school teacher looking for a unique opportunity to educate AND inspire your students? Project Localize is a project based learning program that promotes a contextual understanding of sustainability and interconnectedness in our food system. This program is built to stand-alone or to be supplemental to an environmental science, garden or gastronomy class.

This program is also well suited for cross-disciplinary teaching, or for extra curricular programs or culinary clubs.

Students from Ames High School producing Information Artworks for the Localize: Ames Project.

Students from Ames High School producing Information Artworks for the Localize: Ames Project.

Why offer Project Localize?

  • To advance interdisciplinary thinking and research skills through the lens of sustainability.
  • To develop your students multimedia and digital skills.
  • To introduce students to civic learning and community engagement.
  • To promote a thriving local food web that protects and strengthens local economies, preservation of farmland and culture, and improved access to fresh, healthy and affordable food

Lexicon Studios will choose 50 teachers for the 2015-2016 cohort


Nominate them today!

Project Localize gets tangible results.

Community outreach, informational artwork creation, knowledge of food systems, positive teamwork, civic engagement, food culture research, and awareness of agricultural practices.

YES, 95.2%
Would you recommend the Project Localize curriculum to other student groups?
YES, 94%
Did you gain knowledge about sustainability?
YES, 79,5%
Did your communication skills improve through Project Localize?
YES, 80,1%
Did your leadership skills improve through Project Localize?
“If I want to make a difference in my food system, I have to show those that represent me that I care and want to see change.”
Student New York
“It is such a fulfilling feeling to share the stories of people, like the farmers and producers I meet, who love their work. With the help of Project Localize, I feel as if the time and effort put into the artwork was worth it after knowing that their stories will be heard nationwide.”
Student New York
“It helped me understand and appreciate the hard work people put in to making the economy and environment better to live in. It is so important to know where your food comes and think this project will help communities realize that there are people and places working hard to make a difference, I think this project was very eye opening.”
Student Ohio
“I found a profound interest in sustainable agriculture and how it all works. I have a feeling that I might be taking an environmental studies-type class in college for sure.”
Student Ohio
“This project made me want to start a garden near my house and try to educate myself on what is happening in the World.”
Student Hawaii

“It’s important for the next generation to know what methods are used to produce their food.”

Elena – 12th grade


Use the “TEACHERS ACCESS AREA” button below to find downloadable links for documents to help guide you through the program. (Password Protected. To request the password to the Lexicon’s materials please contact us.)


“We deserve to know where our food comes from”

Will – 11th grade


The winners were chosen by our panel of esteemed judges.

With over 250 students participating in seven states of our first official year of Project Localize, we are thrilled with the results! The students were taught the lexicon of food and took a deep dive into discovering their local food systems. The students, ages 15-17, were mentored by the Lexicon of Sustainability and their dedicated teachers to identify the key ideas and stakeholders in their own community and then challenged to create information artworks that would best showcase these solutions. Each class hosts Pop Up Art Shows in their community as part of the civic engagement portion of the program.

Winners from the Project Localize Awards are invited to join the Lexicon of Sustainability in Washington, D.C. to present their work on Capitol Hill.

Best New Lexicon Term

Best Storytelling

Most Artistic

Most Informative Artwork

Most Innovative in Education

Outstanding Project Localize Class


Zenobia BarlowZenobia Barlow
Zenobia Barlow is a nationally known pioneer in creating models of schooling for sustainability. Co- founder and executive director of the Center for Ecoliteracy (CEL), she has designed strategies for applying ecological and indigenous understanding in K-12 education, including “Smart by Nature: Schooling for Sustainability”, “Rethinking School Lunch”, and the “Food Systems Project”. She is a contributor to the Center for Ecoliteracy’s book, Smart by Nature: Schooling for Sustainability (Fall 2009, Watershed Media/UC Press). She also co- edited Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World (2005) and co-authored Ecoliteracy: Mapping the Terrain (2000). Prior to joining the CEL, Barlow was editor of an international publishing company, a university program director, and executive director of The Elmwood Institute, an ecological think tank. She travels widely as a documentary photographer.

Ania ChamberlinAnia Chamberlin
Ania Chamberlin is a senior at Ames High School. Ania is a co-manager of the Ames High Garden Club where she grows vegetables with fellow students. Ania is interning at a local CSA distribution site where she began volunteering in 9th grade. Two summers ago she also volunteered at a local organic farm. Last year Ania participated in the Lexicon’s first Project Localize and travelled to Washington D.C. to display her artwork and discuss environmental issues with lawmakers. Project Localize taught her many invaluable lessons and inspired her to continue educating others about sustainability. Next year Ania is going to study at Grinnell College and immerse herself in a wide range of classes, including many about environmental science. She aspires to have a career related to nutrition, food, sustainability or environmental policy. Ania joined Project Localize to support a sustainable food system.

Paul HawkenPaul Hawken
Paul Hawken has written seven books published in over 50 countries in 28 languages including four New York Times bestsellers, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, and The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. Bill Clinton called his book Natural Capitalism one of the five most important books in the world. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and been profiled in articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, and Esquire. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and other publications. He founded the first natural food company in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agriculture, Smith & Hawken, OneSun Solar, and He has served on the board of many environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Trust for Public Land, and National Audubon Society.

Jack JohnsonJack Johnson

Jack Johnson grew up surfing and playing guitar in Hawaii. Since 2001, he has released 6 studio albums and 2 live albums that have sold over 20 million copies worldwide. His Brushfire Records label and touring crew have been leaders in the greening of the music industry and his All At Once social action network connects fans with local non-profits at each tour stop. Jack, with his wife Kim, founded the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to support environmental education in Hawaii’s schools and communities, as well as the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation to support environmental, art and music education worldwide.

daniel_kleinDaniel Klein
RAfter learning to cook at his mother’s bed and breakfast, Daniel went on to work and train at many of the world’s top restaurants. His culinary education brought him to Spain, France, England, India and New York, where he has worked and trained at top Michelin starred restaurants such as Craft, Bouchon, Mugaritz, and The Fat Duck. After graduating from NYU, Daniel also pursued a career in film. He has directed, filmed, edited and produced projects on various issues including the development industry in Africa ( “What are we doing here?”) and oil politics. Daniel’s current project is the 2013 and 2014 James Beard Award winning web series that he creates with his wife (Mirra Fine), The Perennial Plate. The series profiles sustainable food producers around the world. Daniel and The Perennial Plate team were also recently nominated for an Emmy for their relaunch of the classic gardening show “The Victory Garden.”

Anna LappeAnna Lappé
Anna Lappé is a national bestselling author and the co- founder with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, which has raised and given away more than $1 million since its founding in 2002. The author or co-author of 3 books and the contributing author to 10 others, Anna’s most recent book, Diet for a Hot Planet, is about the connection between food and climate change. Several years ago, Anna brought together a coalition of leading food and farm organizations around the country to launch the Real Food Media Project, which runs creative communications campaigns to spread the story of sustainable food and farming. It’s currently running the nation’s first-ever short films competition on food and farming and the Food MythBusters series. She is an active board member of the Rainforest Action Network and the Mesa Refuge. A native of the Bay Area, Anna recently moved home after 17 years on the East coast.

“We should help family farms by shopping at our local farmer’s market: it’s healthier for us and helps our environment!”

Tessa – 12th grade