Gardens to Grow In - Planting Seeds to Create Change - Growing a Healthy Future

Mission: Promote and support healthy and sustainable lifestyles, youth development, community involvement and self-reliance in Calaveras and Amador county schools and communities by teaching children and adults how to grow and prepare healthy food.

Vision: We envision a community where schools are the model for healthy and sustainable living.

  • Students, staff, parents and community members are engaged in the process of growing and preparing healthy food.
  • We understand the importance of taking care of ourselves, and the world around us.
  • Every school and community has a garden to gather, learn, and celebrate in.
  • All children and families have access to healthy food; and local food producers thrive with the support of the community around them . 
  • We envision schools and communities that work together to grow our own food and support the common goals of food, social and economic justice and security for all.

Started in 2010, under the umbrella of the Calaveras Unified School District Educational Foundation, Gardens to Grow In branched out to form their own nonprofit in September 2013.  They partner with Calaveras county schools, and other organizations, to support school garden development and maintenance, garden-based nutrition education and the promotion of Farm to School programs.

Gardens to Grow In worked with many stakeholders to develop a framework for "Creating Healthy and Sustainable Systems in Schools" (CHASSIS) that is guiding their efforts. The framework is based on the philosophy that if we create a community centered, health based paradigm in our schools and community, all other elements of the system will thrive. The foundation of this framework is creating healthy individuals through school and community gardens, nutrition/health education and local, organic agriculture.          

Over the last three years, Gardens to Grow In has started garden programs at two sites, and supported garden and nutrition programs at nine CUSD schools.  They have also partnered with CUSD and the UC Cooperative Extension Central Sierra (UCCECS) to host a FoodCorps service member.  FoodCorps is a national nonprofit that connects kids to real food by supporting school gardens, nutrition education and Farm to School programs and currently operates in 15 states throughout the country, with plans to expand to two more states next year.

In addition, Gardens to Grow In has been selected to be a regional co-lead for the California Farm to School Network.  They will be working with the UCCECS and CAFF (Community Alliance with Family Farmers) to develop a Mother Lode Farm to School Network, which will connect stakeholders in El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties to find ways to support each other in their Farm to School efforts.                                                                

Goals: Support a network of school and community gardens and help improve the over all quality of life in Calaveras and Amador counties by:

  • Providing paid garden/nutrition educator(s) mentor for schools.
  • Raising money and helping finance garden construction and maintenance.
  • Distributing free plants and seeds to garden programs.
  • Developing and supporting adult and youth volunteer programs for gardens
  • Teaching sustainable and organic gardening/farming practices that can be used to grow food in back yards or on a small farm.
  • Increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to students and families.
  • Providing nutrition and cooking lessons to children and adults.
  • Building and cultivating community partnerships.
  • Offering events and networking opportunities.
  • Offering workshops for teachers and community members on how to build and sustain school and community gardens (CSYSG) 
  • Implement standards-based nutrition and garden curriculum.
  • Supporting Farm to School efforts - connecting schools to farms.
  • Supporting school site based farmer’s markets.
  • Connecting children and adults to their food, environment and all living things.
  • Operating a school district/community farm that provides produce for the school district meal program, families in need, a CSA and a Farmer’s Market

Engaging Children
Children from Calaveras and Amador pre-schools, schools and youth organizations will use the gardens as outdoor learning labs.  Master Garden and community volunteers, teachers, parents and high school students will use the gardens to provide hands-on instruction in sustainable garden practices and environmental and nutrition education to these students. Our Master Garden volunteers and Garden Coordinator(s) will provide standards based, cross curricular activities during school hours and in after school and summer programs. Students will eat what they grow.

Engaging Families and Community
The Resource Connection, UC Davis Cooperative Extension, First 5 Calaveras, 4-H garden groups, local churches and other community groups will use the gardens for youth and adult nutrition and garden education classes, to produce food for local consumption and educate families on how to grow their own gardens.

Current School Partners and other  Existing School Gardens (2012/2013) (* potential future partner)

  • Valley Springs Elementary (CUSD),  West Point Elementary (CUSD), Rail Road Flat Elementary (CUSD), Toyon Middle School (CUSD), Calaveras High School (CUSD), Jenny Lind Elementary (CUSD), San Andreas Elementary (CUSD), Mokelumne Hill Elementary (CUSD), Michelson Elementary (VUSD), Copperopolis Elementary*, Mark Twain Elementary (BHUSD)*, Argonaut High School (Amador)*, Calaveras River Academy*

Current Community Gardens (* Potential Future Partners)

  • Paloma Community Garden, Food Bank Community Garden (TRC), Copperopolis Community Garden, San Andreas Arts CenterBlue Mountain Youth Center, Mountain Ranch (being planned)Fairgrounds Community Garden (FFA), Master Gardeners Demo, Garden, Sutter Amador Hospital

Current Community Partners (* indicates financial sponsors)

For more information contact us at

Subsidized Meals: