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Why We Need School Gardens

Why We Need School Gardens

Amelia Saltsman Garden PaintingWhen I was a little girl, my East Hollywood elementary school had a robust vegetable garden. In the tempera painting I did when I was seven or eight, you can see the sweet peas climbing their trellis and the marigolds handling insect control. (Yes! My mother saved and framed this piece of art!!)

This is my elementary school today:

Dayton Heights Elementary School The concept of school gardens isn’t new, but it does need to be reclaimed. Ten years ago, landscape designer Nancy Goslee Power, restaurateur Nancy Silverton, and journalist Emily Green founded the Garden School Foundation to do just that. In the historic West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, near one of the busiest freeways in the country, the 24th Street Elementary School was about to re-asphalt a huge swath of blacktop, much more than was needed for a playground. With the help of GSF, teachers, parents, and neighbors turned that shimmering mass of petroleum product into this teaching garden:


The 24th Street campus has become the model garden for GSF’s recently published Seed to Table Curriculum, 160 lessons and recipes that tie the garden to the classroom via math, science, language arts, cooking, and nutrition. It also offers teacher development, community building, parent workshops, and after-school and summer programs. This year, GSF started its curriculum expansion to four schools in needy areas that already have gardens but can’t sustain them or their programs.

I’m pleased to serve on the GSF board. If you live in the LA area, please join me on Sunday, October 27 at the Harvest Moon benefit in the garden with Evan Kleiman and 10 passionate chefs. Do you know a school that needs a garden?

Harvest Moon benefit poster



  1. Dianne Kenderdine October 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Fabulous initiative! Catherine Bell is heading a similar project here in Auckland, NZ.

    • Amelia Saltsman October 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      Great to hear from you, Dianne! Perhaps I should connect Catherine with GSF leadership–a global support system for this uphill project.

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