The Conservancy Awards $70,000 to PUSD for Educational Garden Projects Thanks to Donors’ Generous and Loyal Contributions

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Principal Juan Ruelas and 2nd grade teachers reward PCGC volunteers with thank you drawings.

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Madison Elementary students visit the Huntington.

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PCGC Director Bea Bennett and her 2nd grade reading group.

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Madison 2nd graders at the Huntington examining parts of a flower under a microscope.

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Huntington Botanical Director Jim Folsom and Botanical Education Manager Courtney Allen at RT visit Madison Elementary's kindergarten garden.

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The new Franklin and PHS gardens should resemble Madison's built last January with a PCGC grant.

Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy awarded $70,000 in grants to the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) to support school gardens to improve family health and nutrition, enhance science education, and help increase parental involvement in the schools.

The funds, awarded via the Pasadena Educational Foundation, will be used to support two new school-based gardens, at Pasadena High School and Franklin Elementary School, and to create a new full-time consultancy position at PUSD for a certificate-holding Master Gardener to coordinate the district’s school gardens. The individual serving in this position will be known as the “Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy Master Gardener.”

In addition, the grants include funds to enhance the Madison Elementary Garden & Orchard, which was built with PCGC’s support in January, enabling the garden to comply with California health regulations so that fresh produce grown at Madison can be served to children in the school’s cafeteria.

Once the gardens are completed, The Conservancy will be supporting four community and school gardens, and a full-time Master Gardener, for underserved children and families the Northwest Pasadena-Altadena community. This achievement is due to the dedication of PCGC’s loyal and generous donors – families and individuals who want to help their neighbors to grow their own healthful, nutritious food and enjoy longer and healthier lives.

“PUSD will make dramatic gains with this money,” said Ann Rector, PUSD Director of Health Programs. “This grant will provide us the opportunity to have a Master Gardener work with students and teachers during the school day. Thank you believing in this program,” she added.

“Our small foundation is privileged to help expand and strengthen PUSD’s exemplary school-garden program,” said Beth Hansen, Chair of The Conservancy’s Board of Directors, in announcing the grant awards. “Pasadena’s school gardens are not just growing, they are showing true progress as a means for teaching entire families about healthier lifestyles. We are proud that PUSD’s efforts embody our own foundation’s motto: planting ‘seeds of transformation’ in our city’s underserved neighborhoods.”

Ms. Hansen noted that PUSD recently determined, through a five-year longitudinal study of student health, that students’ average weight in three grades had dropped 11% because of targeted family nutrition-and-health programs, which include school gardens.

“I’d also like to extend our thanks to the wonderful team at the Pasadena Educational Foundation, who have encouraged and advised our small foundation and helped direct our philanthropy, and to the PUSD Board of Education,” she added.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy, a wonderful community organization providing school gardens that teach important life long learning outside the classroom,” said Patrick Conyers, Executive Director of the Pasadena Educational Foundation, upon receiving the $70,000 in grant funds.

PCGC was founded in 2012 by longtime community volunteers Brooke Garlock and Eileen White Read, who gathered 30 individuals and couples interested in improving the health of children and families living in Northwest Pasadena through support for community and school gardens. Currently, the Board of Directors includes Marco Barrantes, Bea Bennett, Adele Binder, Cheryl L. Kopitzke, Donald Hall, Stephanie Hall, Jill Hotvet, Susan Osen, Christopher Pelham, Charles C. Read, and Charise Stewart. Chuck Bakaly and Jessica Korzenecki are Emeritus Directors.