Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Official Website of Friends of Marquez & Marquez PTA



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.
3) A garden in the front of school which contains plants used by the Native American Tribes 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.  They learn through doing. 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.

It’s important to discuss drought tolerant planting these days. Growing food and gardening is integrated with subject areas such as math, science, language, art, history, and social studies. Topics covered include parts of a plant, seed saving, composting, soil, pollinators, math, cool and warm season vegetables, gardening for wildlife, cooking and drought tolerant planting. 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 by the school sign with California native plants that were used by our local Native Americans, the Chumash and the Gabrielino/Tongva. This is a teaching garden especially relevant for the students in grades 3 and 4 who are studying Native American History in the Social Studies curriculum. The difference between a native plant garden and a Native American Garden is that the plants in the latter are used by people as well as pollinators. Almost every native plant was used for medicine, food, housing or tools. Thanks to the Pacific Palisades Garden Club for donating funds for this garden. Thanks to Kellogg’s Garden Products for donating the mulch.  Thanks to Ryan Drnek of Sodder Studios for the complimentary design of the garden.

See the design here.

Read the research some grade 4 students have done on the plants in the Marquez Native American Garden:

Acorns Black Sage California Poppy Cleveland Sage
Coast Live Oak Coffee Berry Deer Grass Hummingbird Sage
Mugwort Narrow Leaf Milkweed Purple Sage Sticky Monkey Flower
Yarrow White Sage

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.
Ryan Drnek, Sodder Studios – Landscape Architects, Designers and Planners based in Culver City, designers of the native american garden.
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

  • Volunteer when your child’s class visits the gardens
  • Volunteer for gardening club
  • Apply for gardening grants
  • Manual labor: add soil to beds, help maintain bed covers
  • Help with cooking lessons or lead a cooking lesson
  • Summer maintenance: water plants, harvest and plant more seeds/seedlings

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