The Mission of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is to empower students and families from diverse backgrounds to be healthy and active citizens through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education. Our Vision is to reconnect students and families to the natural environment through food, education and community engagement.
Healy Vigderson — Executive Director
Healy Vigderson is the Executive Director of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. Healy comes to us from the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County, serving most recently as Assistant Director, where she oversaw education and outreach programs designed to support families with chronic health conditions. She also managed creative fundraising events and led an advocacy team on legislative issues at the State Capitol. Healy has a background in Ecology and worked in North Central Chile on Desertification projects near the Atacama Desert. In the San Diego Unified School District, Healy was a bilingual educator who taught middle school Life Science and developed a hands-on Science lab for a K-6 elementary school. She is excited to bring all of her skills and passions together to serve the community here at Olivewood Gardens. A native San Diegan, Healy enjoys the outdoors and spends her free time in the ocean or mountains.
Diana Bergman – Program Director
Diana Bergman is a former middle school and high school science teacher. After teaching a course in Environmental Science, she made a career move into informal education, determined to focus her efforts on educating young people about critical environmental issues. Over time, her work evolved to support gardening with children as a means to enhance positive eating choices and nature awareness. With a statewide team, Diana facilitated numerous trainings throughout California on the implementation of garden-based nutrition education, farm to school programs, and a return to scratch cooking in schools. In 2008, she was involved in the earliest meetings to create Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, leading teacher focus groups and persuading future funders. She officially joined the Olivewood Gardens staff in 2012. In her spare time, Diana enjoys going on adventures with her family: from exploring Mission Trails for odd bugs to picking persimmons and strawberries at local farms.
Leonard Vargas – Gardens and Facilities Manager
Leonard brings to Olivewood more than two decades of professional growing experience in San Diego County, and has been gardening since he was about 2. He most recently managed operations for Waterwise Botanicals in Bonsall and has overseen growing at Miramar Wholesale Nurseries, HerbThyme Farms, and other local nurseries. For many years, he managed the urban farm onsite at San Pasqual Academy in Escondido for their resident students. Leonard is excited to work with students and families here at Olivewood. He is happiest when his hands are in the soil and looks forward to inspiring and empowering our community to grow both food and flowers.
Cherianne Barry – Nutrition Program Coordinator
Cherianne Barry is the Nutrition Program Coordinator at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Cherianne spent 11 years working as a teacher and coach in Chicago Public Schools before making the move to sunny San Diego in July 2015. She brings to us her experience in curriculum writing, teacher mentorship, and nutrition education. While working on Chicago’s South Side, Cherianne observed the effects of poor nutrition habits on student performance in school. She worked with leadership to establish school wellness policies, and she introduced nutrition and movement programming into the curriculum. With a personal passion for sports and fitness, Cherianne is excited to bring her skills and love of healthy food to the Olivewood Gardens community. In her free time, you’ll find Cherianne running, swimming, cooking, or watching Chicago sports.
Cristina Juarez – Coordinator of Volunteers and Outreach
Cristina grew up in Mexico and migrated to San Diego as a teenager, where she obtained her BA in Sociology from SDSU. Passionate about social issues, she conducted research for the San Diego State University Research Foundation and has been a community organizer for many years, getting young adults involved in different projects. She is interested in creating and supporting spaces where people can build community while they learn and pass onto others how to live loving, healthy lives. Cristina enjoys traveling, spending time with her nephews, and playing music with her friends.
Adan Teposte – Gardener
Adan is one of the Gardeners at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. He migrated from Mexico in 1980 and, after working for many years in the manufacturing industry in Los Angeles, he moved to San Diego where he gained experience in gardening. Adan has seen the transformation of the Walton family home gardens into the extensive Gardens we have today, for he has been part of the working team for 11 years! He loves going to beach in his free time.
Claire Groebner – Development Assistant
Claire Groebner is the Development Assistant at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center. She has a B.A. in Sociology – Social Inequalities and Spanish Literature from UC San Diego. Prior to Olivewood, Claire worked as an administrative assistant at UC San Diego, gaining experience in a number of different departments. Claire’s love for people, nature, and food inspired her to get involved in the food justice and farm-to-table movements, and eventually, with Olivewood Gardens. In her free time, Claire likes to travel (preferably on foot and with a backpack on), garden, and cook homegrown meals.