Sandpoint-based Litehouse, Inc. selects Kaniksu Land Trust for ‘5% Planting the Future’ initiative By Christian Weaner | Photo by Fiona Hicks Photography
In the early 1960s, Edward Hawkins Sr. began marketing and selling his own creamy blue cheese salad dressing out of his family owned restaurant, Herschelle’s Litehouse Restaurant, located in Hope, Idaho. Sixty years later, Litehouse, Inc. now bolsters a reputation as a leading salad dressing and food producer across the country.
This year, Litehouse, Inc. is giving back to the Sandpoint-area community that has supported its growth through the years thanks to the company’s Green Garden brand “5% Planting the Future” initiative. The initiative allots 5 percent of the annual net income from Green Garden products to support an organization that exhibits a commitment to plant-focused youth initiatives and outdoor education.
Litehouse announced in August that the 2022 recipient of the “5% Planting the Future” gift is none other than fellow Sandpoint-based organization Kaniksu Land Trust (KLT).
“We were so honored and thrilled to learn that we had been selected,” KLT Communications Director Marcy Timblin exclaimed. “We love Litehouse, and being aligned with this successful national brand is so exciting!”
KLT, which was originally called Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Conservancy when it was founded in 2002, is a nonprofit organization that works with landowners throughout North Idaho and western Montana to protect forest and ranch lands from harmful practices and educate the community about conservation and stewardship.
Since its inception, KLT has developed strong ties to the Sandpoint area through its multifaceted youth and adult nature education efforts. KLT offers various programs, such as Camp Kaniksu—a seasonal youth and young adult nature experience—and the Kaniksu Folk School—an initiative that fosters stewardship values through traditional crafts and music.
Marcy explained that KLT’s programs offer a wide range of benefits to those who get involved.
“Regular guided discovery-based nature education has been shown to improve academic performance, increase civic and community awareness, engage families, and even reduce symptoms of ADHD, depression and anxiety.”
One of KLT’s most prominent nature education programs is called Rewild the Child, which is an initiative designed to take children outside the classroom to explore nature and learn about the benefits of stewardship and conservation. KLT has worked directly with multiple schools in the Lake Pend Oreille School District to make these types of education opportunities possible for their students, bringing wildlife experiences right to their doorstep.
“We are currently working with three schools to rewild portions of school grounds to infuse natural learning landscapes on-site, allowing teachers to expand the classroom outside the school doors,” Marcy explained. “A grant from United Way North Idaho has funded the planning and initial design work, and we hope to begin the physical rewilding of the playgrounds in 2023.”
Many of KLT’s education programs include some sort of nutritional aspect, which made the organization an easy choice for Litehouse’s initiative.
“Kaniksu Land Trust has a reputation for doing noble things to support the well-being of the Sandpoint community,” Krystle Turnbull, Litehouse product manager, described in an article on Litehouse’s website. “Our shared core values of fostering community, supporting youth initiatives and general stewardship make KLT an ideal recipient.”
Green Garden—the brand within Litehouse, Inc. that is specifically responsible for the “5% Planting the Future” initiative—was launched in 2020 as a line of plant-based, organic and non-GMO dressings, dips, mayos and herbs.
“Green Garden exists to make delicious plant-based food options easy, accessible and every day,” noted Kate Nees, Litehouse Foods brand manager. “We believe no matter what, there’s a sustained desire for better: to eat better, to be better, to do better for the world we share.”
The “5% Planting the Future” initiative was announced in 2021 and became a priority right away once the new brand was launched. Green Garden’s mission is centered on transparency and community, which is why the initiative is so important to Litehouse, Inc.
Donating 5 percent of its annual net income gives Green Garden the opportunity to support like-minded organizations in their efforts to educate youth and encourage sustainable food choices.
“We are committed to balancing individual hopes and the collective needs of others—our youth, our families, our communities and our planet,” Krystle said. “Through Green Garden’s ‘5% Planting the Future’ initiative, we’re able to play a part in creating a more sustainable future for the next generation.”
Marcy echoed Krystle’s thoughts exactly as she described the overlapping interests of her organization and Litehouse, Inc. Because both KLT and Litehouse, Inc. share similar core values, both corporations’ missions and goals are aligned.
“Both of our organizations are deeply connected with land and community,” Marcy added. “As a land trust, we work to preserve physical spaces for habitat, cultural significance, public access, and sustainable economies such as forestry and food production. Connecting people to the land through education shows how conservation impacts their daily lives. That includes food.
Sustainably grown food and youth education are central to the character of the Green Garden brand.”
Another factor that played a role in KLT’s selection by Litehouse, Inc. is the proximity of the two organizations. Because both KLT and Litehouse were formed in the Sandpoint area and are still headquartered there, the small-town connection added to the partnership.
“Litehouse intended to choose their first ‘5% Planting the Future’ recipient from Sandpoint, since this is where the company originated,” Marcy explained. “Their ties to this community run deep, and they are intimately familiar with the great things that so many nonprofits are doing in this area.”
According to Marcy, KLT did not apply for the initiative. Instead, KLT was nominated directly by the Litehouse, Inc. staff, many of whom were aware of KLT’s efforts in the Sandpoint area and had experienced the organization’s educational programs firsthand. Marcy explained that she was told by Litehouse, Inc. that Kaniksu Land Trust’s work aligned “perfectly” with the mission and values of Litehouse’s Green Garden brand.
KLT has already begun receiving the donation money from Litehouse, Inc., and some of the funds were used to help pay for 150 children to experience nature discovery at Camp Kaniksu over the summer.
Overall, Marcy emphasized how blessed she and her organization felt to be the inaugural recipients of Green Garden’s “5% Planting the Future” initiative. She added that the benefits of KLT’s selection cannot be overstated.
“Our being selected for this program reinforces to us the value that our community places on conservation and education,” Marcy said. “The publicity aspect will also help us to reach people who may not be familiar with our work, especially since this is a national brand.”
To learn more about KLT’s education programs and the Green Garden “5% Planting the Future” initiative, visit Kaniksu.org/learn and EatGreenGarden.com. Green Garden brand products can be purchased at the Ponderay Walmart and the Litehouse Specialty Foods Store, located at 125 South Second Avenue in downtown Sandpoint.