Laura Gallegos and Juan Samaniego from EJE Academies

Berry Good Food is thrilled to announce that through monetary fulfillment, supply needs, and educational programming, we have awarded a total of $14,450 to eight San Diego County schools that are dedicated to enhancing their curriculum through hands-on gardening, culinary education and creating healthy food access for their surrounding communities: The Kitchen tABLE Academy in Poway, Rowan Elementary in Fairmount Park, Rolando Park Elementary in Rolando, EJE Academies in El Cajon, Field Elementary in Clairemont, PRIDE Academy in Santee, Darnall Charter School in Rolando, and Ivy High School in Fallbrook.

For the second year in a row, in addition to a monetary award, grant applicants were given the option of applying for 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. And to no surprise to us, everyone wanted in on this!

The PRIDE Academy for example opted in for two of our classes. Principal Dr. Kristen Bonser shared her excitement through the school’s blog this week: “The PRIDE Academy Garden program is designed to encourage students to engage in collaborative planning with their peers, understand the importance of pollinators within our ecosystem, and assist in establishing good nutritional habits at an early age. The revitalization of this garden space will enrich the school’s educational environment and foster a culture of sustainability, experiential learning, and community engagement.”

Natasha Notaro from The PRIDE Academy went on to say, “We are really excited about implementing themed cuisine beds in the garden space. There is such a big and exciting world out there. I think the introduction to ingredients and food that are different from what we are used to experiencing is sometimes our first exposure to just how big the world outside of where we grow up can be. I’m excited for our students to tap into the possibilities that food can create.”

In evaluating the 17 grant applications that BGF received this year, BGF’s Foundation Cultivator Christina Ng and Foundation Coordinator Eden Hughes methodically reviewed the proposals in the following categories: current or new programming needs, clear objectives, demographics, long-term and smart goals, mission impact, community need and participation beyond the school, and, very importantly, how will the programming help to support growing a food movement in San Diego? It was no easy task as there were many strong candidates, but the 2023 selected recipients will no doubt help plant “Seeds for the Future” all around the county.

After receiving the news of their awarded grant, Juan Samaniego from EJE Academies shared, “We are very excited to be recipients of the Berry Good Food garden grant! It will be a part of an ongoing expansion and renovation of our school campus, La Milpita Eagle Patch, which has been designed to teach students about various aspects of gardening, plant biology, ecology, sustainability, and healthful lifestyles through specific lessons. The project aims to involve parents, teachers, and the local community to promote a sense of shared responsibility and collaboration in the joy of gardening. We look forward to the impact this garden project will have in our food choices, promoting healthier eating habits, and contributing to a broader shift toward a more sustainable and healthier food system.”

La Milpita Eagle Patch Plans at EJE Academies

Berry Good Food wants to express our gratitude to our amazing community for coming together to help fortify the organization’s garden grant funds throughout the year with generous monetary and in-kind donations, grants, and by attending our annual “Seeds for the Future” fundraising dinner. This year’s dinner was held in August and hosted at the gorgeous Julep Venue located in Mission Hills. With the help of our very own Advisory Board member and owner of Julep, Michael Esposito, our emcee and Herb & Wood’s Chef Carlos Anthony, Urban Kitchen Group’s Chef Aarti Sanghavi, Marisi’s Chef Erik Aronow, Liberty Call Distilling’s Chef Miguel Valdez, Pop Pie Co.’s Chef Gan Suebsarakham, and our friends at Pali Wine Co., we were able to delight our guests with an incredible appetizer and cocktail hour followed by a multi-course family style sit down feast featuring ingredients from many local food producers like Son Rise Ranch (grass fed beef short ribs), D’Acquisto Farms (tomatoes, peppers eggplant), Tunaville Market and Grocery (local thresher shark). One of our most generous sponsors, Roger Harrington, owner of Specialty Produce, kindly donated the remaining ingredients as well as treated his staff to a VIP table at the event.

An extra special thank you goes to Celebrity Chef Carlos Anthony who shows up on BGF’s behalf again and again, always wearing a different hat. From his high energy emceeing of our “Seeds for the Future” fundraising dinner, to his endearing live cooking demonstrations on the local news, to what we feel is the most kindhearted contribution to date, assisting BGF Foundation Cultivator Christina Ng with garden-to-table cooking classes. 2022 Garden Grant recipients Darnall Charter School and Juarez Elementary were wowed by his restaurant level instruction including ingredients like dukkah, black onion, and Humboldt Fog cheese! He even took it one step furtherbecause if you know Chef Carlos Anthony, this is completely his style and his righthe hosted a “Chopped” style competition for Granite Hills High School culinary students. He challenged the students to a 30 minute live cook-off of locally sourced seasonal spring produce. In the end, a spring vegetable Vadouvan curry, as Christina Ng put it “lit up Chef Carlos’s taste buds with the perfect balance of flavors and eye-catching presentation.” His kind heart and enthusiasm is sure to be a lifelong memory for these students, and possibly what may spark a future crop of celebrity chefs coming out of San Diego.

Chef Carlos Anthony with Granite Hills High School culinary students after their “Chopped”-style cooking competition

New this year, BGF created the Local Food Leader Award, as stated so perfectly by BGF President Jessica Waite, “as a means to elevate community businesses that are aligned with our mission and are actively working to make our region a healthier place to live and thrive. These leaders set a strong example for how stewardship and business can increase the health, resilience, and happiness of our communities.” We were so honored and excited to celebrate these recipients that we thought there was no better time to launch this program than at the Seeds for the Future dinner! After all, this event is about connecting all facets of our food community, so why not honor these shining stars while we’re at? Congratulations to award winners San Diego Magazine’s Claire and Troy Johnson, Herb and Wood’s Chef Carlos Anthony and Culinary Arts Teacher Jill Enright at Granite Hills High School! Together, we’re walking the walk and creating a stronger local food system in very tangible ways.

For San Diego County K-12 schools interested in applying for a 2024 BGF garden grant, the application will be available on our website in fall 2024 for new awards issued at the end of 2024. Sign up for the BGF newsletter to receive updates.

If you’re interested in helping to support our BGF Schools Garden Grant programming, please consider becoming a sponsor, purchasing one of our brand new “Growing a Food Movement” t-shirts, or making a donation. We couldn’t do any of this without our community. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for helping BGF support healthy food education in San Diego County.

BGF t-shirt on sale now on our Shop page!