Berry Good Food is pleased to announce the winners of its 2019 School Garden Grant awards: Chula Vista High School, Abraxas High School, Mission Elementary School, and the Plant Grow Eat program at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Now in its second year, BGF’s program to support San Diego County school gardens and nonprofit organizations was established to provide an opportunity to connect our youth to the source of their food while enhancing and advancing the teaching of sustainable agriculture and healthy eating.

This year BGF introduced a new model offering two levels of grant awards:

  • Level I: BGF Seeds for the Future Grant (up to $1,500 per award)
  • Level II: BGF Impact Grant (up to $10,000 per award)

While many factors were considered in selecting the BGF Impact Grant recipient, projects that advance a healthier and more just food system, and create positive change on a macro level for the community at large, were the strongest candidates and ultimately helped narrow down the chosen winner.

Close to 40 applications were submitted for consideration, and BGF’s dedicated Garden Grant Committee developed strict guidelines and a comprehensive rubric to assess each school project’s level of growing food, community need, clear objectives, demographic, long-term goals, mission impact, community support beyond the school, and other metrics to assure a fair voting structure.

Berry Good Food is pleased to announce that its 2019 Impact Grant ($8,000) is awarded to Chula Vista High School (CVHS) located in the South Bay, supporting its programming to address their neighborhood’s food insecurity through permaculture and environmentally responsive farming practices. The school’s goal is to provide a food secure campus where students and parents gather in the garden to harvest healthy food and learn healthy recipes. This program is supported by Wild Willow Farm and led by students in CVHS’s “Social Justice in Food” classes.

Student volunteers at the Chula Vista High School Garden

“This generous BGF grant will help us push open the school gates and build bridges with our community,” said Maria Galleher, the CVHS Social Justice in Food teacher who applied for the grant. “We will invite parents, city leaders, and community members to a movie screening and a farmer’s market, with the understanding that we need to work together to create a healthy and sustainable community. This is a goal everyone can get behind because everyone deserves access to healthy, sustainable food.”

Berry Good Food is also pleased to announce that the 2019 Seeds for the Future Grants are awarded to:

  • Abraxas High School ($1,500) in Poway Unified School District to support both its traditional and aquaponic school garden programs – designed, built and harvested by students. Eighty percent of the produce grown onsite is donated to people in need, and offers students an experiential seed to table education. The school and onsite garden program serves at-risk and special needs students.
  • Plant Grow Eat program at the Del Mar Fairgrounds ($1,500) to support its regional, free educational programming serving K-6th grade students in San Diego County where they can learn where food comes from by growing radishes or edible flowers and lettuce varieties at school and then bringing them to the Fair for judging in the Fairgrounds’ organic farm. Kids also visit the CA grown exhibit and learn about San Diego’s rich agricultural history.
  • Mission Elementary School ($1,000) in Oceanside Unified District to support its language literacy garden (bilingual) with salsa and pizza gardens. The funds will be used to replace a small greenhouse and create a Zero Waste Club composting program onsite, which helps serve a community of food insecure students.

“Berry Good Food has been a tremendous partner to the Abraxas High School Garden,” says Bob Lutticken, an Abraxas Biology, Agriculture, and Aquaponics teacher who applied for the grant. “In 2018 we were awarded a BGF grant that helped fix our drip system, purchase 8,000 aquaponic lettuce plugs, and provide all the seeds for our spring and summer harvest. With BGF’s continued support in 2019, we plan to expand on our commitment to donate our produce to the needy in our community which, to date, totals over 7,000 pounds of fresh food from our garden.”

Abraxas School Garden in Poway

The BGF School Garden Grant program is primarily funded by the organization’s annual spring dinner, Seeds for the Future, which includes a rotating lineup of notable San Diego chefs known for sustainable sourcing. In 2019 the sold-out dinner at Studio Kitchen by Specialty Produce was prepared by the Puffer Malarkey Collective, including celebrity chef Brian Malarkey and his teams at Herb & Wood, Farmer & the Seahorse, Green Acre, Herb & Sea, and Animae. Other supportive community members donated items to the Seeds for the Future silent auction, including Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar, Whisknladle, Escondido wineries, and the Hotel Del Coronado.