Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Official Website of Friends of Marquez & Marquez PTA

Edible Growing Ground


Marquez School’s lower Growing Ground was established in 1994 by a dedicated group of parents. It now functions as the center of a seed to table curriculum designed to integrate the process of growing food with subject areas such as math, science, language, art, history, and social studies. We are fortunate to have Marie Steckmest, aka Miss Marie, a UC Master Gardener. She runs our garden program and the edible growing ground. Marie, a long time Palisades resident, the founder of Palisades Cares, and a former elementary school teacher, was involved as a parent volunteer with Friends of Marquez and the PTA when her two children attended Marquez. She believes in the importance of growing and eating organic food and has instated the edible gardens organic status.lily_in_the_grden

The hands-on learning that takes place in the garden deepens the students understanding of food security – where food actually comes from, the processes involved in plant growth, soil health, organic maintenance, harvesting, and general gardening know how. In the process, they learn about nutrition and try new foods. The garden program introduces new vocabulary, reinforces or introduces science and social studies concepts. We have several gardening areas. The growing ground on the lower yard has six beds as well as a butterfly garden. There are eight beds on the upper yard, a compost bin area, a fruit tree orchard, and two butterfly/hummingbird garden areas. There is a garden planted by the Marquez Marquee that is designated as a Native American garden, children learn about plants that the Chumash and Tongan natives used.


It Takes A Team

caterpillarThe garden program is funded by FOM as well as by community donations. In the last twelve months, we have received generous donations from several organizations:

Kellogg’s Garden Products – this Los Angeles-based company donated 90 bags of organic soil to the edible garden program.
Gelson’s – Gelson’s donated the organic vegetables for the beginning of the year cooking and eating experiences for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.
Whole Foods – Whole Foods on Montana donated food, soil and seeds for an Earth Day planting project.
Raw Inspiration- In 2012 the Marquez Edible Garden became a “Jennifer McColm Certified School Garden” upon receiving a donation from Raw Inspiration. The non profit operator of California Certified Farmers Markets (CCFM), CCFM operates the local Pacific Palisades Farmers Market and others.
Pacific Palisades Garden Club  The Pacific Palisades Garden Club has donated funds in support of the upcoming Native American Garden. This garden will feature plants native to the Santa Monica Mountains that were used by the local Chumash and Tongva tribes.
Malibu Compost  This producer of bio-dynamic compost has made generous donations of Bu’s Blend to help our garden. Randy Ritchie, the owner, is a Marquez Elementary School graduate.
Gibson International Realty--Scott Gibson of Palisades-based Gibson International Realty, is a financial supporter of the garden. His daughters attended Marquez.

We have been fortunate to have community and parent volunteers that assist with the edible garden program. Our community volunteers have included Jack Sanders, Gretchen Arnold, Karin Fintzy, Elisa Hunsiker and Carolyn Haselkorn. In addition, we’ve received valuable maintenance assistance from Kurt Bierschenk, Ira Tenenbaum, local Boy Scouts and others. Parents interested in volunteering with gardening or cooking activities should contact Marie.

The Difference The Edible Garden Makes

“My son told me he asked for seconds of the Kale Chips that Ms. Marie served to his class, he also asked me if they were easy to make so we could have them at home”. 
Michaela Carmichael (Marquez parent).

“My daughter rarely tries new veggies.  After her gardening fun with Ms. Marie at school, she came home asking for kale and we made smoothies!  It was amazing.”
Lisa Solomon (Marquez parent).

“The Marquez Edible Garden is an incredible gift to our school. This has inspired a love of gardening in our children that will last a lifetime. To work on, grow and eat things that were planted in our own school garden is a beautiful process. Our gratitude to Marie for creating this Eden is immeasurable. This garden enriches the lives of every student. My slogan for  Marquez is: Come for the education STAY for the homemade pesto!”
Beverly Jacobs (Marquez parent).

XgardenacitonHow to help

  1. Volunteer when your child’s class visits the gardens
  2. Volunteer for gardening club
  3. Apply for gardening grants
  4. If you would like to be involved in the school beautification and general gardening team, visit the PTA Beautification page.

To learn what is currently happening or has happened in the school garden, visit the Marquez Garden Blog.