Grant Recipient Highlight:

Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center

About Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center

Olivewood’s purpose is to build healthy families and a healthy environment. They work with children, families and adults through hands on classes in the garden and the kitchen. Their key programs include: 

Children’s Garden and Nutrition Education Field Trip Program: Serenity Grace Foundation supports Olivewood’s children’s program which offers visiting school children a curriculum of ecological, academic and culinary lessons to build scientific literacy and environmental awareness, while encouraging students to explore the interrelationships between a quality diet, sustainable agriculture, and healthy living. Through Next Generation Science and Common Core standards-based, experiential education, children explore connections between sustainable agriculture, resource use, environmental science, health and cooking, and the disciplines of history, science, art, literature, math, geography and nutrition.

Through their partnership with National School District, Fourth graders visit Olivewood three times a year, giving students the chance to observe the garden’s different growing seasons as they move through the calendar year. During each visit, students rotate through integrated environmental and nutrition science, and gardening and cooking sessions that engage them in the full cycle of cultivating, preparing, and eating fresh produce from the garden. Students from pre-K through high school from throughout the County participate in annual visits to Olivewood, for a similar experience. These hands-on experiences increase student’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors towards health, food, and the environment.

To further the impact of this program, they provide trainings and support to teachers and schools to help leverage school gardens as teaching tools and to improve school wellness policies and initiatives.

During 2019-2020 school year, Olivewood Gardens was able to award field triop scholarships to 14 different classes thanks to support from Serenity Grace Foundation.  They hosted field trips for six different schools from National School District.  They were able to expand their reach from four to six schools.

Cooking for Salud™: This eight-week intensive adult education program empowers adults to transform their kitchen into a healthy food zone. More than just a cooking class, Cooking for Salud™ focuses on building individual and community capacity for health through nutrition education, healthy cooking, and leadership development. With the expertise and guidance of local chefs and community partners, participants explore techniques for preparing flavorful vegetables, healthy salad dressings and sauces, whole grains, lean meats and meat alternatives, and healthy cultural dishes. They also identify strategies to involve children in healthy cooking and acquire basic nutrition knowledge.

In addition to their children’s program and Cooking for Salud™, Olivewood offers gardening and cooking classes, field trips, internship and volunteer opportunities, weekly tours, and weekend family days, along with meetings and luncheons for health- and sustainability-related companies and organizations.


What They Have Accomplished

  • Over 100,000 community visits since February 2010
  • 50,000 hours of CA standards-based elementary student instruction
  • Over 2,000 volunteers and 60,000 hours donated
  • Graduated 250 kitchenistas™ from their Cooking for Salud™ program since 2012.
  • Trained over 2000 adults in gardening, cooking, and leadership
  • Graduated 80 high school students from their leadership and job skills development internships
  • Engaged nearly 50 community members through the Resident Leadership Academy in 2011, 2013, and 2015
  • Highlighted in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Edible San Diego magazine, San Diego Magazine, and others
  • Featured in Savor San Diego with Su Mei Yu and A Growing Passion with Nan Sterman on KPBS
  • Received two landscape design awards, including an Orchid Award for “Engaging the people”

Learn more at


Testimonials from Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center

“Dear Serenity Grace Foundation,

My name is Bryan. I am a third grade student from Kimball School. I am writing this letter to say “Thank you!” for the field trip to Olivewood Gardens.

I appreciate that we got to learn about plant and eat the “three sisters” in this awesome place. Don’t worry we ate corn squash and beans. They are the “three sisters.” And they were very delicious! Without your support we wouldn’t have gotten to have this wonderful experience.

Because of this trip, now I will be more adventurous when I ear new foods. I even pledged that I would take on big bite before I say “No, thank you.”

Again, I want to say “Thank you!” for giving us this fantastic field trip. It was a crazy way to end the school year.”


“The hands-on learning experience [Olivewood Gardens] provided is like no other; students are able to learn by cooking, planting, smelling, tasting and feeling! I have noticed a change in their perceptions of food. Olivewood emphasizes making healthy choices but also emphasizes taste!” – National City Teacher 

“I never tried almost all these things that are in here, but it is delicious!”
National City 4th Grader