Our Mission, Vision & Core Values


Inspire youth and adults to be healthy and active citizens through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education.


A community free of diet-related health conditions and a thriving environment.

Core Values:

  • Equity – Inclusive and culturally responsive, we are committed to acting with respect, openness, and a desire to understand, value, and support our community.
  • Integrity – Guided by honesty, loyalty, and a commitment to confidentiality, Olivewood Gardens is responsive and respectful to the needs of all our program participants, guests, volunteers, donors and staff. We pride ourselves in doing what we say we are going to do and creating a safe space for our community
  • Transformative – Using innovation and data-driven approaches, Olivewood’s activities create deep, impactful, and sustainable change
  • Community – Olivewood welcomes all residents of National City, south San Diego and beyond. Our kitchen and garden are inclusive to all, and reflect the warmth of the community we serve.
  • Health – Olivewood’s programs are centered on wellness and health. We serve as a resource for people looking to live a healthier lifestyle.

Olivewood’s purpose is to build healthy families and a healthy environment. We work with children, families and adults through hands on classes in the garden and the kitchen. Our key programs include:

Children’s Garden and Nutrition Education Field Trip Program: Our children’s program offers visiting school children a curriculum of ecological, academic and culinary lessons to build scientific literacy and environmental awareness, while encouraging students to explore the interrelationships between a quality diet, sustainable agriculture, and healthy living. Through Next Generation Science and Common Core standards-based, experiential education, children explore connections between sustainable agriculture, resource use, environmental science, health and cooking, and the disciplines of history, science, art, literature, math, geography and nutrition.

Through our partnership with National School District, Fourth graders visit Olivewood three times a year, giving students the chance to observe the garden’s different growing seasons as they move through the calendar year. During each visit, students rotate through integrated environmental and nutrition science, and gardening and cooking sessions that engage them in the full cycle of cultivating, preparing, and eating fresh produce from the garden. Students from pre-K through high school from throughout the County participate in annual visits to Olivewood, for a similar experience. These hands-on experiences increase student’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors towards health, food, and the environment.

To further the impact of this program, we provide trainings and support to teachers and schools to help leverage school gardens as teaching tools and to improve school wellness policies and initiatives.

Cooking for Salud®: This eight-week intensive adult education program empowers adults to transform their kitchen into a healthy food zone. More than just a cooking class, Cooking for Salud® focuses on building individual and community capacity for health through nutrition education, healthy cooking, and leadership development. With the expertise and guidance from local chefs and community partners, participants explore techniques for preparing flavorful vegetables, healthy salad dressings and sauces, whole grains, lean meats and meat alternatives, and healthy cultural dishes. They also identify strategies to involve children in healthy cooking and acquire basic nutrition knowledge.

In addition to our children’s program and Cooking for Salud®, Olivewood offers gardening and cooking classes, field trips, internship and volunteer opportunities, weekly tours, and weekend family days, along with meetings and luncheons for health- and sustainability-related companies and organizations.

Acknowledging, honoring, and extending gratitude to the Kumeyaay peoples whose land we occupy.

What We Have Accomplished

  • Over 100,000 community visits since February 2010
  • 50,000 hours of CA standards-based elementary student instruction
  • Over 2,000 volunteers and 60,000 hours donated
  • Graduated 375 Kitchenistas® from our Cooking for Salud program since 2012.
  • Trained over 2,000 adults in gardening, cooking, and leadership
  • Graduated 80 high school students from our leadership and job skills development internships
  • Engaged nearly 50 community members through the Resident Leadership Academy in 2011, 2013, and 2015
  • Highlighted in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Edible San Diego magazine, San Diego Magazine, and others
  • Featured in Savor San Diego with Su Mei Yu and A Growing Passion with Nan Sterman on KPBS
  • Received two landscape design awards, including an Orchid Award for “Engaging the People”