Olivewood Gardens History/ICF

Christy and John Walton

In July 2006, Christy and John Walton donated their former home and garden in National City to the International Community Foundation with the goal of leveraging the property to engage, grow, and promote healthy communities and dialogue through civic engagement and philanthropy in the San Diego-Baja California border region.

The International Community Foundation established a Type 1 supporting organization in late 2007, the ICF Center for Cross-Border Philanthropy (“The Center”)  to maximize the full potential of the Walton gift. In October 2009, the Foundation gifted its 6.85 acre property to the Center. By March 2010, the first children’s field trip began, serving the National School District.

Olivewood’s nutrition education program began in March 2010 in partnership with Chef Julie Darling. Since that time hundreds of local San Diego and Tijuana chefs and food professionals have donated their time to the Olivewood kitchen. In October, 2011 Olivewood named the kitchen “The Darling Kitchen,” in honor of Chef Julie Darling, commonly referred to as the Teaching Kitchen.

In 2020, ICF donated a new parcel of property on the North side of the gardens, expanding our educational garden to 7.85 acres. In September of 2022, we underwent a name change to “Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center” with the mission to connect and motivate youth and adults through sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education, inspiring them to be healthy and active citizens. Olivewood Gardens is proud of its early roots and continues to partner with the International Community Foundation, offering its facilities to help further the cross-border philanthropic mission of the foundation. 

Olivewood Gardens is thankful to the founding donors of the Foundation that sowed the seeds for our organization:

Our Founders

Christy Walton
Walton Family Foundation

The California Endowment

Malin and Roberta Burnham
Myron Eichen Memorial Fund -San Diego Foundation
Opportunities for Kids Fund
The Parker Foundation
Rokenbok Educational Foundation
Sempra Energy Foundation

Anthony and Linda Kinninger
Atul and Smir Patel
Augie Gallego
Cheryl Hammond and Morgan Scudi
Danah Fayman
Deborah Szekely
Fruit of the Soul
Girard Foundation
Irma Gigli
Lauren Foundation
Lucy Killea
Mary L. Walshok
Neighborhood National Bank
Oswald Family Foundation
Polak Family Fund-San Diego Foundation
Richard and Marci Romney
Robert and Joyce Chang
Sempra Employee Giving
Tracy Hamlet
Wendy Gillespie
Zella and Hernán Ibañez

A special thanks also goes out to Alan Rubin, Elinor Merideth of Szelzer Caplan Vitek, Gerald Myres, Lucy Killea, and Richard Romney, that gave so generously of their time during the foundation’s efforts to secure zoning and permitting approval for the property.