Early History & Founders:
In July 2006, Christy Walton donated her 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.
After a two year process to secure zoning approval, the International Community Foundation relocated its offices to the property and then embarked restoring of the 1925 era craftsman home which is now its headquarters. The restoration was made possible thanks to the support of the foundation’s many friends and supporters.
With its move to National City, 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. Founding board members were Mary Walshok, Rick Romney and Gabriela Flores with Richard Kiy serving as interim Executive Director. In October 2009, the Foundation gifted its 6.85 acre property to the Center.
Today, the “Center” has been renamed “Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center” and has been charged with an important mission to connect and motivate students and families from diverse backgrounds through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education, empowering 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.
Our Kitchen Program – The Darling Kitchen
Olivewood’s Hands-on Kitchen Program started in March 2010 when OWG staff was introduced to Chef Julie Darling at a lecture by Chef Ann Cooper, “the Renegade Lunch Lady.” Within ten days Chef Julie had volunteer guest chefs in Olivewood’s kitchen teaching 4th graders how to make zucchini pancakes and healthy veggie nachos. Over 120 chefs and food professionals have donated their time to Olivewood’s kitchen. Chef Julie Darling invested countless hours over the first year and half to create and envision the kitchen program. Despite owning her own catering business, this Point Loma native and graduate of the San Diego Culinary Institute gave 30 hours per week to help launch the program. Specifically, Julie identified the volunteer chefs, coordinated all the needs for the kitchen, created recipes, scheduled Sous chefs and other kitchen help to ensure the kitchen education classes run smoothly. She devoted her time to Olivewood because, “Showing up here at the farm is a happy and inspirational place for me and every child has something special to give and a special gift, this program helps children tap that.” Without the time and dedication of Chef Julie Darling, Olivewood Gardens would not have arrived at its success or visibility. She is helping to inspire a generation of students and families from San Diego to be adventurous healthy eaters. In October, 2011 Olivewood named the kitchen, “The Darling Kitchen,” in her honor.
Olivewood Gardens is thankful to the founding donors of the Foundation that sowed the seeds for our budding new organization and the property that our rooster, Oliver, calls home:
Walton Family Foundation
Malin and Roberta Burnham
The California Endowment
Myron Eichen Memorial Fund -San Diego Foundation
Opportunities for Kids Fund
The Parker Foundation
Rokenbok Educational Foundation
Sempra Energy Foundation
County of San Diego
Robert and Joyce Chang
Fruit of the Soul
Cheryl Hammond and Morgan Scudi
Zella and Hernán Ibañez
Anthony and Linda Kinninger
Neighborhood National Bank
Oswald Family Foundation
Atul and Smir Patel
Polak Family Fund-San Diego Foundation
Richard and Marci Romney
Sempra Employee Giving
Mary L. Walshok
A special thanks also goes out to Richard Romney, Gerald Myres, Alan Rubin, Elinor Merideth of Szelzer Caplan Vitek and the Honorable Lucy Killea that gave so generously of their time during the foundation’s efforts to secure zoning and permitting approval for the property.