In The News: Pasadena Public-Private Partnership Harvests New School Garden in a ‘Food Desert’


ALTADENA, CA, Nov. 16, 2017 – A partnership between the Pasadena Unified School District and the Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy celebrated the first harvest at their latest school garden, Altadena’s Franklin Elementary School. The party included a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Terry Tornek and Patrick Conyers, Executive Director of the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF).

“I want to extend my hand in friendship to the parents and students here today,” said Beth Hansen, Chair of the Conservancy. “We share your families’ interest in creating a healthier Pasadena and Altadena through food gardens where children can grow fruits and vegetables. We wish you, students, parents, and teachers, a wonderfully rewarding experience at the Franklin Fox Farm. And we hope to come back to observe students using the garden in their pre-science curriculum.”

The garden was developed as part of a $70,000 grant from The Conservancy to PUSD, via the PEF, that also includes a $42,000 salary for the school district’s Master Gardener, Jill MacArthur, as well as funds to construct a new garden at Pasadena High School. Speaking before the 270-plus students assembled at the ribbon-cutting event, Superintendent Brian McDonald and Principal Merian Stewart told the students he hoped they would have fun in the garden and look forward to eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

Franklin is considered one of the most underserved elementary schools in the District, having what PUSD says is “a student population that is one of the poorest in the District, with 88% participating in free and reduced price lunch. The student population is 72% Latino, 21% African American, 4% white, 2% Asian, and 1% mixed heritage. About 42% of the students are English learners, and 11 students are in foster care.” PUSD also describes Franklin as being located in a “food desert,” where there is “a lack of affordable fresh produce and an overabundance of convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.”

With direction from Master Gardener Ms. MacArthur, the pupils will use the garden as an outdoor classroom to encourage pre-science learning in areas such as seeds and germination, soils, insects, gardening, harvesting, and nutrition. Ms. MacArthur will take the second grade students on a visit to the Huntington Library’s Botanical Center for a visit that will be tied to their pre-science curriculum.

The Conservancy, an all-volunteer nonprofit that makes grants from donations it has received from 300 local families, has helped steward two other gardens: Madison Elementary School, in partnership with PUSD, and Villa-Parke Community Garden, via a partnership with the City of Pasadena and L.A. County. For more information, visit

Click here to see the article in Pasadena Now