Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy Awards $42,000 Grant for Public School Gardens

JUNE 8, 2018 – Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy today announced a $42,000 grant to the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) to underwrite the 2018-19 salary of a full-time School Gardens Manager for the 16 educational food gardens located at PUSD school 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 M. 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.” (Jill is pictured at top with PUSD 3rd-graders.)

PCGC, a fund of the Pasadena Community Foundation, is underwriting a School Gardens Manager at PUSD’s 16 school gardens for the 3rd year in a row. L to R: Mike deHilster, PCF Program Officer; Elizabeth Matthias, PCGC Chair; Jill McArthur, School Gardens Manager; Ann Rector, Director of PUSD Health Programs Dept.; Charles Read, PCGC board member.

Ms. 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,” Ms. Matthias added, “1,300 third-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.”

“I’d also like to extend our thanks to the Board and staff of the Pasadena Community Foundation, and especially to President & CEO Jennifer DeVoll, for advising and encouraging our organization since 2012,” Ms. Matthias added. 

Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy (PCGC) is a fund of the Pasadena Community Foundation dedicated to improving health for underserved families with young children in Northwest Pasadena’s “food desert” neighborhoods. The Conservancy makes grants for community and school gardens and nutrition education, connects neighborhoods through volunteerism, and promotes healthier living through educational outreach.;

Pasadena Community Foundation improves and enriches the lives of people in the greater Pasadena area through commitments to: Provide grants and services to strengthen community-based organizations; promote and participate in community partnerships; enable donors to meet their philanthropic goals; and serve as a leader and catalyst to build charitable funds emphasizing permanent endowments to fund grants to local organizations.