Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Official Website of Friends of Marquez & Marquez PTA

Learning through doing; Edible & Native American Gardens

Marquez Charter Elementary School has several gardening areas:
1) the lower yard edible garden which was founded in 1994 by a group of parents and staff. This contains 6 raised beds, a compost area, two fruit trees and a butterfly garden;
2) seven raised beds on the upper yard; and
3) a native garden in the front of school which contains plants used by the Chumash and Tongva (Native American Garden) and also plants that attract pollinators.


In our seed to table program students plant the food, tend it, harvest it and eat it.  Eating can be as simple as tasting chives and arugula or as involved as making a salad or pasta dish. Recipes from cooking lessons are posted online to encourage families to cook them together at home.

Growing food and gardening is integrated with subject areas such as math, science, language, art, history, and social studies. Topics covered include such topics as parts of a plant, seed saving, composting, soil, pollinators, cool and warm season vegetables, Special curriculum for 3rd and 4th grade students include studying plants used by the Chumash and Tongva in the Native American Garden. Fifth graders learn about Thomas Jefferson during their Jeffersonian Garden unit.
The garden program is coordinated by Ms. Marie-Marie Steckmest, a UCCE Master Gardener volunteer, former Marquez School parent and founder of Palisades Cares. She is assisted by community and parent volunteers. Additional volunteers are always welcome.



Discover our Native American Garden

In 2015 we replanted the area under the school sign with Native American plants.  This is a teaching garden relevant for the students in grades 3 and 4 who are studying Native American History in Social Studies curriculum.  We invited students in Grade 4 to research the plants in our Native American Garden.  Here’s what they found:

Black Sage

Hummingbird Sage

More plant information will be added.


It Takes A Team

caterpillarFinancial support from community organizations and FOM as well as hands-on support from community members and parents help our gardens grow.

We have received two large grants during the 2014-15 school year. In the fall of 2014 we received a grant from the Western Garden Foundation. In March 2015 we received a grant from Whole Foods Foundation. Both grants are being used to enhance our edible garden program.

Other supporters include the following:
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. In addition, Jessica Siegel, Gelson’s dietician, made a kale salad with a 2nd grade class during Fresh Kids Week.
Gibson International Realty--Scott Gibson of Palisades-based Gibson International Realty, is an important financial supporter of the garden program. His daughters attended Marquez.
Kellogg’s Garden Products – This Los Angeles-based company has donated many bags of organic soil, compost, mulch and fertilizer.
Pacific Palisades Garden Club – The Pacific Palisades Garden Club has made generous donations for the establishment of the Native American Garden.
Renee’s Garden- Renee’s Garden, a distributor of organic, heirloom and open pollinated seeds donated seeds.
Whole Foods – Victoria Polakoff, marketing manager for Whole Foods on Montana cooked with a 2nd grade class during Fresh Kids Week, donated broccoli and carrots for recess tastings and food for several cooking lessons.

We have been fortunate to have community and parent volunteers that assist with the edible garden program.  This year’s community volunteers have included Carolyn Hasselkorn, Chef Elisa Hunsinker and Chef Kirstin Uhrenholdt. In addition, we’ve received valuable maintenance assistance from Kurt Bierschenk, Peter Branch and Tatiana Karpusenko. Parents interested in volunteering with gardening or cooking activities should contact Marie

The Difference The Edible Garden Makes

“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.