Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy announced a $42,000 grant to the Pasadena Unified School District to underwrite the 2018-19 salary of a full-time School Gardens manager for the 16 educational food gardens located at PUSD campuses. These award-winning gardens help to improve family health and nutrition, enhance science education, and help increase parental involvement in the public schools.
“We are delighted to partner with Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy to provide school gardens that extend learning outside the classroom and bring families, schools and the community together,” said PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald.
The Conservancy, known as PCGC, was founded in 2012 as a fund of the Pasadena Community Foundation. Donations from individuals and institutions steward school and community gardens throughout Pasadena, chiefly those serving the low-income minority children and their families who are concentrated in Northwest Pasadena and in the public schools.
In five years, PCGC’s nearly $200,000 in donations have helped build school gardens at Madison and Franklin elementary schools; at Washington STEAM Magnet Academy, a middle school; and at Pasadena High School. In 2014, in a public-private partnership with then-Fifth District County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and then-Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, the Conservancy helped create the city’s first garden at a community center, the Villa-Parke Community Garden.
“This will be the third consecutive school year in which the Conservancy has sponsored PUSD’s School Gardens manager Jill McArthur,” said PCGC chair Elizabeth Matthias in announcing the latest grant award. “Jill is a joy to watch interacting with children, as well as an amazingly well-organized manager who juggles education and horticulture in all of these gardens. We are proud that Jill is perfectly qualified for her position, as she is certified by the state of California to serve both as a California teacher and as a master gardener.”
Matthias also praised PUSD’s Director of Health Programs Ann Rector: “Under Ms. Rector’s leadership, Pasadena’s public school food gardens serve well over 5,000 pounds of school-grown fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren each year. Children who have never tasted blueberries or kiwi are learning from the process of watching them grow — and then eating them. We are receiving great feedback on the school gardens from science teachers, parents, volunteers and principals.”
“Each year,” Matthias added, “1,300 3rd-graders leave their school gardens for a field trip to learn how a big garden — the ‘ranch’ at the Huntington Library — works. Truly our partnership with PUSD embodies the Conservancy’s motto of planting ‘seeds of transformation’ in our city’s underserved neighborhoods.”