Julia Cotts

published You’ve Got Kale! in News 2012-05-03 13:35:33 -0700

You’ve Got Kale!

Often, in seemingly season-less Southern California, it can be easy to overlook the fact that different types of fruits and vegetables thrive during different seasons. Even in our perpetually moderate climate, the concept of seasonality is important to keep in mind when it comes to planning your garden. Here at the 24th Street Elementary School when we ask our students, “What’s growing in our winter garden right now?” they unequivocally respond, “KALE!” and frequently can even identify the varieties that we have:

KALE! What is it good for? Absolutely everything!


In cooking class, the kids have been gathering around a blender to make their now famous Superfood Smoothie. Earlier this month, Chef Chris taught the 3rd graders how to write a recipe; a corollary to their science class curriculum on mixtures. Chef Chris had the students write down each ingredient and its amount and draw a picture of what should be done to it before entering the blender.

Superfood Smoothie
2 leaves kale
1 banana
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 cup berries (in this case, blueberries)
1 cup rice or almond milk

Kale, we learned, is one of the best foods for you, with more nutrients per calorie than most other foods. Once we added all the ingredients, the kids took turns blending using our exciting environmentally friendly bike blender. This interactive blender is a favorite among the kids, who love using their own energy to blend their smoothies. Each student took a turn as the others cheered them on: “Go Jamie, go Jamie, GO JAMIE!”

After the blending was done, the kids were full of smoothie and questions! “Where can I get kale?” was a common one, so we talked about the leafy greens section of farmers markets and supermarkets. When another student pointed out that they didn’t sell kale where he shopped, we talked about how other kinds of leafy green vegetables like spinach or chard could be a healthy substitute. “I’m going to tell my mom to make this for me at home!” exclaimed one student, while another wrote “I <3 Kale” in her notebook. Even one student, who didn’t like the smoothie, was convinced after trying a piece of raw kale…and then another, and another. Suddenly a huge group of children gathered, asking to try the raw kale, and they loved it! Whether it’s in a smoothie, a salad, or baked into chips with our solar oven, the kids are loving the kale from our wintry garden, and it loves them.

published Shoo (White)Fly, Don't Bother Me. in News 2012-05-03 13:33:53 -0700

Shoo (White)Fly, Don't Bother Me.

he whitefly has come for a visit and as much as we welcome all living creatures into the garden, this little creature has overstayed its welcome. 

Whitefly, it's your time to skeedaddle.

Whiteflies are what some may call a "pest". And they are! They love to nest in all the nooks and crannies of our beloved Kale. They're actually starting to nest in all of our brassicas! The cauliflower leaves have a silvery powder on them, the brocolli heads are spotted. It's not looking pretty. 

Whiteflies have this way of sucking the life out of your plant and they tend to gross the kids out when we're cooking. Bugs are definitely not in our recipes! In small doses, the whitefly isn't that detrimental to the plant but when they take over, they take over. 

The technical name for these pesky pests is Cabbage Whitefly, Aleyrodes Brassier. Pretty, no? These small white-winged insects live on the underside of leaves, and fly up in clouds when disturbed. Adult whiteflies are structurally similar in appearance to aphids, but are covered in mealy grey hairs and have white wings.


The young whitefly, known as 'scales', stay on the leaves. The flies themselves don't cause severe damage, but the sticky honeydew or sugary excretions they produce can disfigure the plants. This is not so much to do with the honeydew itself but the sooty or black molds which grow on the honeydew. The sooty molds will spoil flower buds, e.g. on Brussels sprouts, and will prevent leaves from photosynthesizing. We certainly don't want that, do we?

Don't fret, we're fighting this battle and doing it au natural (aka: the natural way!) Say goodbye to the fly! 

We've come up with a little solution and a riddle!

What do vampires and whiteflies have in common?


Yeah, you got it. Garlic!! They despise garlic. It's like the relationship Superman has with Kryptonite. When they get together, it's not a pretty sight. But sometimes, that's how it has to be. Do we want whiteflies to be enjoying our kale or do we want the kids at 24th Street Elementary enjoying it? Enough said, right? 

We've been testing our simple recipe out and are looking forward to the results. Beautiful, whitefly free kale! 

Try it yourself and see how it goes.  

Garlic Foliar Spray:


 1 head of garlic

1 bunch of green onions

Hot water 


Chop up garlic and green onions.

Steep in hot water.

Strain into a spray bottle.

Spritz your plants, don't forget the underside of the leaves!

Prepare to smell for the rest of the day. 

published How do we know our students love our recipes? in News 2012-05-03 13:32:07 -0700

How do we know our students love our recipes?

Well, that's simple, it's because they tell us they do! Chef Lovely was teaching Ms. Menendez's first graders how to make guacamole with roasted vegetables, when she saw one of the students taking notes on a scratch paper. When she went over to find out what was going on, the student told her he was writing the recipe down because he loved it so much and wanted to make it at home with his mom!

Try our recipe and tell us what you think!

Roasted Guacamole


2 avocados, small dice
1 small tomato, small dice
1/2 roasted bell pepper, small dice
2 cloves roasted garlic, minced
1/2 chipotle pepper, minced
lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste

Cooking Method

1. Mash avocados in a bowl with some lime juice

2. Chop all ingredients and stir into the avocados

3. Season with salt, pepper and a touch more lime juice

4. Serve with whole wheat pita chips and enjoy!!

published Sushi in the Garden!! in News 2012-05-03 13:30:20 -0700

Sushi in the Garden!!

When we think of garden fresh food, we often envision over-flowing baskets of ripe tomatoes, and tender greens, freshly harvested and ready to be made into a healthy salad.  So, when Chef Lovely let the classes know they would be preparing sushi; our students were surprised and excited!  


First, Chef Lovely led the students through the garden to harvest lettuce and mint, all while teaching the students what it means to harvest and how to tell when the food is ready, then it was time to roll! The students wrapped the sushi with Nori seaweed and inside the rolls they used brown rice, red bell peppers, cucumber, avocado, and the mint, and lettuce harvested just moments earlier (talk about fresh!)  As the students were intently focused on their sushi rolling skills, it was most exciting to hear them exclaim that brown rice is healthier than white rice, and that they know how to make the healthy choice.

Once the sushi was prepared the students were able to show off their very impressive chop sticks skills.  A wonderful calm fell over the dining tables while the students were happily enjoying their sushi, their mouths too full to talk. It was a truly beautiful afternoon in the garden classroom. Seeing the students so engaged, a Chinese Proverb comes to mind “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

published First Garden Work Day of the School Year in Events 2012-05-03 13:26:09 -0700

published October Work Day 2009 in Events 2012-05-03 13:22:12 -0700

October Work Day 2009

Last Saturday GSF was our first work day of the school year. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out! It was an amazing turn out and we had a lot of fun! The garden looks beautiful and as a community we were able to get so much done! With the help of the volunteers, we were able to start a meadow in the CA native edibles area, build a mountain of compost, dig up and resoil old plots, build new plots, paint new signs, plant new seeds, spread out tons of hay, and so much more. Great job community!

published November 2009: Work Day! in Events 2012-05-03 13:18:34 -0700

November 2009: Work Day!

Thank you for everyone who came out to the 2nd work day of the year on Saturday! As usual, we got a lot of things done, including planting 15+ fruit trees! We now have plums, pear, and peach trees added to our fruit orchard. We also laid down some fresh hay, planted 6 more rosemary bushes around our Reading Circle, planted 6 new herb beds for the Herb Project, started a new compost pile, planted tons of new flower and veggie plugs, and started 2 new beds ready for planting! I'm always amazed by the power people can have when they get together to work towards a good cause! Thank you!

published Teacher Voices in About Us 2012-05-03 13:15:42 -0700

Teacher Voices



Wow. What can I say? Where once our school seemed chaotic and depressed now there is hope for a brighter future. I've been at 24th Street School since 1998: a place mired in blame, resignation and re-action. Facilities broken, locked and dark. Teaching staff a wild stew of apathy and energy and a virtual mirror into the diversity of the nation itself. Black, brown, yellow, white, old, young, all the colors of the rainbow.

A few years after I started seeing the gradual and persistant signs of change. New principal, new reading programs, and new interest from the community. Into this heady mix came the Garden Project, an attempt to set a new standard for LAUSD that combines a 21st century attitude toward learning environments with rigorous and comprehensive academic standards. A project that will transform the prison-like setting with its grim cement, fences, and grime, into a green space, with gardens, trees, and beautiful play areas. An environment that nurtures mind, body, and spirit.

It has already begun.

The central circular vegetable and flower garden has become a source of pride and knowledge for the students; a beacon of play, beauty, and learning that is tended and cared for by the students themselves.

The main rear playground is being ripped up and redesigned and we have every confidence that as the new main garden emerges, the the spirits of the teaching staff, administration, parents and children will rise. When pride and enthusiasm rise, so also do expectations and achievement.

As a teacher, born and raised on an 80-acre Sonoma County farm, I know the positive nurturing benefits of nature on the young and have seen its affects already on our students.


- Christopher Lee Paulsen, 3rd grade teacher



My 1st grade class is looking forward to working with Nick and Sergio in the garden every Friday. We are learning about different plants, what they need to grow, and how to take care of them.

It goes hand in hand with our first grade science curriculum as well as a lot of the stories in our Open Court Reading Program.

Currently we are growing zucchini, basil, and jalapenos. Personally, I think the garden is the best thing that has happened to our school.

-Nataly Kourabi


I am a first grade teacher at 24th Street School. My students love the garden and eagerly await each new stage in it. We go to the garden to learn, to draw, to read, and to write. We also go to the garden to discuss. We often have our Community Circle meetings there.

The garden is our science workshop, and it provides a beautiful backdrop for our Open Court Reading units.

-Martha Tocco


As I look at our courtyard test garden, an eighth of an acre circle shaded by willows, it's hard to believe that three years ago, we had only 5 containers at the back of a playground. There are now large beds for each grade level, and we work from the earth, not potting soil. It is rare that the test garden is not being utilized by one teacher or another, and often, by two teachers sharing the ample space, conducting lessons directly connected to their instructional goals across all academic areas. This was not the case with the container garden. The soil was quickly exhausted. In our case, location was also a problem. The containers were at the back of the asphalt yard, next to a Freeway. Try as I might, I couldn't get more than two teachers to join me in using the old container garden for project-based learning. Since the creation of a real garden, which amounts to a total environment as opposed to a specimen box, the numbers of teachers who are feeling comfortable using the garden for lessons is growing by leaps and bounds. Even better, we teachers are beginning to collaborate more to share ideas."

-Linda Slater, 2nd grade teacher.

The garden offers a setting for cross-curricular lessons and the result is a more engaged and motivated classs. My favorite lessons involve growing and preparing food. We choose vegetables to grow then make signs identifying them. Next, we plant vegetables, tend to them, and harvest them. This integrates math, reading, health, and nature into one lesson. Our favorite part is cooking. The students love it.

-Michelle Ereckson, 3rd grade teacher


The 24th Street School garden program has made a huge impact on our school, community, and on me as a professional. It has opened doors to curriculum enhancement and creativity that have slowly been closing due to district mandates and state required programs. It has given the hope back that our students truly can get an amazing education in the midst of an environment that is inspiring for us all.

-Tedd Wakeman, 4th and 5th grade teacher


Walking, sitting, smelling and just being in the garden always is an invigorating part of our day now. The garden has become an integral part of my curriculum; the planting adventures motivate not only more lessons in science and healthy eating, but in language arts, both oral and written. It is a wonderful enhancement of our daily learning envrironment.

-Sheri Barber, kindergarten teacher


I am very excited to know that my students will be able to participate in nutritional education through hands on experiences. I cook with fresh ingredients at home and I enjoy sharing with children the importance of healthy foods. The ability to go outdoors during the school day using all five senses to observe and record observations back in the classroom will enrich learning about the scientific process. For many of our children the world is harsh and unforgiving. I see this garden as a refuge not only for the students but for the teachers who often need a slice of serenity and beauty during the teaching day. I am moved by the dedication I have witnessed in the design and development of this greened campus. Its a journey that I have faith will lead us to a higher consciousness as we look to the future of educating children.

-Marie Bellande, kindergarten teacher


I am from Fairbanks, Alaska, and know from my upbringing and always having a garden at home and being surrounded by plants and wilderness what an enriching experience it is. My first graders are overjoyed about the Garden Project at our school. They love checking on the progress of the fruit, vegetables, and flowers on a daily basis. They do not let a day go by without strolling through the garden, smelling the flowers, finding insects, digging in the dirt for worms and chasing bees. This project is the best thing that has happened at 24th Street School in the 10 years I have taught here.

-1st grade teacher Lucia LaFleur


The value of the project, though undoubtedly immense, cannot be measured because the positive effect it will have on the lives of the many children who will benefit from it cannot be measured. Aside from the physical, mental and emotional health benefits, students will experience firsthand and on a regular basis, a school environment heretofore unavailable and far superior to what currently exists on their campus and presumably superior to that of any such educational institution in the area and perhaps in the state. Furthermore, the garden project will create a manifold increase for opportunities for learning, most notably with regard to Science and especially the life sciences.

-William Faulk, Special Education teacher


Hello! I work at 24th Street School teaching 1st grade. I love the garden we have now. My students love playing, resting, and spending time there. It is such a blessing to have the garden so students can enjoy the beauty of nature. Thank you so much for providing a beautiful garden to us.

-Miyoung Chung


I am a first grade teacher whose class has planted radishes and sunflowers in our beautiful school garden. The kids love getting their hands in the dirt, and I love watching them.

-Veronica Bautista


published Work Day: The Volunteer Experience in Events 2012-05-03 13:15:32 -0700

published GSF Fundraiser: Eat and Drink for a Cause! in Events 2012-05-03 13:12:57 -0700

Upcoming December Work Day & Sustainable Holiday Gift Sale

UPDATE: Unfortunately, due to wet winter weather, GSF is canceling tomorrow's garden workday.  However, we are still hosting our sustainable holiday fair at the 24th Street School.  All proceeds will benefit the Garden School Foundation.  Our organic products include Frog Hollow Farm Jams, Eatwell Salts, San Marcos Farms, Avocado and Wild Sage Honeys, Intelligentsia Coffee, La Provence cupcakes, Adina Juices and an array of holiday cookies and fresh baked goods perfect for everyone's holiday entertaining or gift giving!

So although there's no work tomorrow, please come by and support GSF!

GSF will be hosting a Sustainable Holiday Gift Sale alongside our monthly workday this  Saturday, 12/12 (9-12) at the 24th Street Elementary School.

Our sale will be featuring amazing, sustainable organic products from Frog Hollow Farm Jams, Eatwell Salts, San Marcos Farms, Avocado and Wild Sage Honeys, Intelligentsia Coffee, La Provence cupcakes, Adina Juices and an array of holiday cookies and fresh baked goods perfect for everyone's holiday entertaining or gift giving!

So bring your shovel and work gloves, work up an appetite, and buy some delicious organic gifts on 12/12!

Thanks to everyone for coming out to our last workday.

Bring your garden gear (garden gloves, some water, sunscreen, a shovel or pitchfork).  We will be doing more winter planting, building some infrastructure, making new beds, and many other tasks.

Date: Saturday, 12/12/2009

Time: 9:00am- 12:00pm

The address is:  2055 West 24th Street, Los Angeles

Directions: From the I-10 Freeway:  take the "Western Avenue" exit (3 miles west of downtown) and head south on Western.  Take a right turn on 24th Street.  The school and parking lot will be on the right-hand side on the east side of school.  There will be plenty of street parking as well.  Look for the banner reading "24th Street School Workday" and enter through those gates.

published Sustainable Gift/Bake Sale 2009 in Events 2012-05-03 13:06:16 -0700

Sustainable Gift/Bake Sale 2009

After a little break, GSF is back in the full swing of gardening with the kids! The garden welcomed our young farmers back from the winter break with tons of peas, snow peas, radishes, daikons, lettuce, wheat grass, and so much more! Would you believe the kids pulled the BIGGEST daikon ever from the ground and cooked it? It doesn't get any fresher than that!

Before we left, we had a sustainable gift/bake sale for the December workday event. Torrential downpour canceled the workday, but the gift/bake sale went on! Nat, Nancy, and Virginie manned 3 beautiful table filled with gorgeous baked goodies, locally made jams, rosemary/lavender salts, and other great holiday gifts. I brought my mother and she ended up purchasing a lot of gifts for our relatives. (FYI: lavender salt is great!)

Despite the typhoon going on around us, we still had a great success! We hope to do this again in the future.

published Work Day: January 30, 2010! in Events 2012-05-03 13:04:07 -0700

Work Day: January 30, 2010!

Happy New Year! GSF will be hosting the first monthly workday of 2010 on Saturday, 1/30 (9am -12pm) at the 24th Street School. Please mark your calendars. Bring your garden gear (garden gloves, some water, sunscreen, a shovel or pitchfork). We will continue our winter planting (including another 20 new fruit trees donated from Tree People!) in both the kitchen and California native gardens, build some infrastructure (benches, compost sifters, etc.), make new beds, and many other tasks.

The address is: 2055 West 24th Street, Los Angeles

From the I-10 Freeway: take the "Western Avenue" exit (3 miles west of downtown) and head south on Western. Take a right turn on 24th Street. The school and parking lot will be on the right-hand side on the east side of school. There will be plenty of street parking as well. Look for the banner reading "24th Street School Workday" and enter through those gates.

We look forward to seeing you then!

published Harvest Moon in Events 2012-05-03 13:01:31 -0700

Harvest Moon

As I type this, I can hear the gentle chords of Neil Young's Harvest Moon playing in the background filling me up with fond memories of a night that just passed us by.  The Harvest Moon Celebration, Garden School Foundation's annual fundraiser, was this last Saturday.

published Workday 3! in Events 2012-05-03 12:58:32 -0700

Workday 3!

November 19 was our third workday of the school year. Both the sky and the forecast threatened rain, but we were determined to soldier on no matter what, and invited people to the garden rain or shine. But nature complied, as did our volunteer list. It never rained, but was cool enough that no one got too hot or miserable. We had at least 50 people there

We got huge amounts of work done. In the photo above, people are clearing our former melon and pumpkin patch of the final crops and the weeds that threatened to overrun that fertile soil. Once the weeds were gone, we planted cover crops of borrage and clover to stave of the grasses that want to take over, and replenish some of the nutrients our plants took out. The cover crops will grow there until we're ready to plant in the space again, at which time they'll be mixed directly into the soil and turned into compost right there on the spot. While the adults were using the big tools, the kids were working too.

They brought their little brothers and weeded...


...they dug holes, filled in holes, and looked for bugs... 

...and they planted peas.

We got an amazing amount of work done and our best turn out yet. It is so gratifying to see the pride the community -- students, parents, neighbors, everyone! -- takes in this garden that we love so much. At the end of the day, we were able to send families home with bags bursting with collard greens, chard, kale, mint and other herbs. All of which was grown in beds that were tended to at previous workdays. To everyone who came:Thank you so much for your help. To everyone else: see you next time, December 10th, 9 am!

published Workdays in Events 2012-05-03 09:52:02 -0700

published Cooking with Compost in Gardening tips 2012-05-03 06:26:22 -0700

Cooking with Compost

Lasagna has always been a favorite dish here at the garden, what’s not to the love about the layers of ooey gooey goodness?  We love lasagna SO much that we even decided to create our very own lasagna garden! It may sound a little strange, but lasagna gardening incorporates some of the same ideas as baking lasagna at home.

Now imagine your favorite lasagna- layers of creamy ricotta cheese wedged between wholesome, hearty lasagna noodles drenched in rich marinara sauce and topped off with delicious cheese.  Now replace those tasty noodles with cardboard, that decadent ricotta cheese with compost and that thick marinara sauce with soil and you’ve got a recipe for a lasagna garden! 


A lasagna garden is a no-dig gardening technique that uses layers of newspaper or cardboard, compost, brown materials, soil, and manure to produce a nutrient rich mixture that is perfect for growing. Over time these compostable ingredients will break down and produce a healthy living environment for worms and maturing plants.  Here’s one recipe for a lasagna garden…

What you will need…

Foods Scrapes or Compost


Newspaper or Cardboard

Brown materials (dried leaves, straw, sawdust, hay)

Organic Soil


Step 1

Pick the perfect location for your lasagna garden- a location with plenty of sun!  Now lay down your sheets of cardboard or newspaper and gently dampen.   The newspaper or cardboard will smother weeds and grass and will also create a nice cool place to attract earthworms.

Step 2

Lay down a thick layer (2-3 inches) of alfalfa- this will help retain moisture in your garden.

Step 3

Layer 4-8 inches of compost or organic material- use your hands to spread the layers evenly

Step 4

Alternate layers of brown materials and compost or green materials  (If planting in spring or summer during warm weather- intersperse topsoil between the layers of compost.  This will ensure a proper medium for planting)

Step 5

With your layers of green and brown materials in place, finish your lasagna garden with a final layer (3-4 inches) offinished compost or topsoil.

Step 6

Now plant directly in your new Lasagna garden! If you are using cardboard be sure to cut an "x" in the cardboard where you are planting so the roots can make it through to the earth below.

The best thing about lasagna is how simple ingredients and flavors work together to create a complex and flavorful dish.  A lasagna garden is very similar in that the various layers of compost and soil combine to form a nutritious environment for your plants to grow and thrive!

published Contact Us in Get Involved 2012-05-03 06:12:51 -0700

Contact Us

P.O. Box 191300
Los Angeles, CA 90019

ph. (626) 633-6580

Please fill out the following form to be added to our mailing list. 

Thank you for your interest in the Garden School Foundation! Please leave us a message below and someone will get back to you shortly.

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Julia Cotts
Harnessing the power of school gardens to transform lives!