Darnall Charter school garden

Berry Good Food is pleased to announce that it has awarded a total of $15,000 to seven San Diego County schools that are developing hands-on gardening and culinary education creating healthy food access for their surrounding communities: Longfellow K-8 in Linda Vista, the Classical Academy in Escondido, Darnall Charter School in Rolando, Juarez Elementary in Serra Mesa, Carrillo Elementary in Carlsbad, Clairemont Canyons Academy in Clairemont Mesa, and Kumeyaay Elementary in Tierra Santa.

New this year, in addition to a monetary award, grant applicants were given the option of requesting non-monetary services like an expert-led class on gardening techniques, a cooking class, a garden cleanup by BGF volunteers, and a photosynthesis class using BGF’s signature “Seeds for the Future” bilingual workbook.

“We are so excited to have the support and resources from Berry Good Food to create expanded garden spaces that will be places of connection, discovery, and joyful learning,” said Roberta Cruz, a Garden/Cooking Educator at Longfellow K-8, which was awarded the largest BGF grant, plus garden beds from local purveyor Epic Gardening, a garden cleanup, and a photosynthesis class. “Perhaps most importantly, there will be places for collaborative participation that extend to our entire school community, including our students’ families, teachers and staff across grade levels, generations and demographic diversity.”

Longfellow K-8 school garden

Gaela Fernandez Florin, a parent at Longfellow K-8, added, “The garden offers a foundation for the kids to work collectively on a common project and employ an alternative strategic learning approach, all while getting their hands dirty and enjoying the outdoors. This helps counter overstimulation from screens and create more unity among our children. Thank you to Berry Good Food for investing in generational change.”

With 23 applications submitted for consideration, BGF’s dedicated Garden Grant Chair, Jill Parsh, along with the school gardens committee, took an in-depth look at each one, prioritizing the school project’s level of growing food, community need, clear objectives, demographics, long-term goals, mission impact, community support beyond the school, and other metrics to ensure that each winner would embody the overall mission of growing a food movement in San Diego.

Berry Good Food extends its thanks to the community for coming together to help replenish the organization’s garden grant funds after the awards had been on pause for three years due to the pandemic and school closures. Between June and August 2022, BGF held a three-part summer dinner series in three different locations throughout the county with the help of celebrated chefs like Herb & Wood’s Carlos Anthony, Animae’s Tara Monsod, Juniper & Ivy’s Anthony Wells, Kettner Exchange’s Brian Redzikowski, Casa de Flor’s Flor Franco, and Wrench & Rodent’s Davin Waite. The multi-course menus featured ingredients from many local food producers like Omega Azul and El Faro seafood, Perennial Pastures grass-fed meat, and fresh produce from family farms Wonderland, Weiser, and Dassi.

For San Diego County K-12 schools interested in applying for a 2023 BGF garden grant, the application will be available on our website in Fall 2023 for new awards issued at the end of 2023. Sign up for the BGF newsletter to receive updates.