The Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center has FREE programs for the community that include cooking, gardening and nutrition classes for kids and adults. This place not only rocks for its great atmosphere, but the house has been host to several celebrities. Marcela Valladoilid from the Food Network’s Mexican Made Easy presented the center with $50,000. Su-Mei Yu from Savor San Diego and Sam “The Cooking Guy” also held a Seedling Soiree on the property.
The center is located on a 6.85 acre property that also happens to be a historic home. Oliver H. Noyes built this Victorian house for his family in 1896. The house was built in the Princess Anne style, which was a simpler, less ornate version of the better-known Queen Anne style of Victorian home.
Noyes was a retired senator from New Hampshire and friends with Frank Kimball. He became the city’s postmaster during the high society days of National City.
They sold the house in 1947 to the Newland family, who sold it to John and Christy Walton in 1985. John Walton was the heir to the Wal-mart fortune and they owned a home in both Jackson Hole, Wyoming and National City. They wanted a quieter, normal life for their son Lukas and hoped to find it here, but Lukas’ life turned out to be anything but normal. He was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three. When his cancer returned after a year of chemotherapy, Christy Walton began an organic garden in her home and focused on nutrition. They began to grow all their food organically (with no chemicals) and biodynamically (by building healthy, living soil). Lukas graduated from college, cancer-free in 2010.
But then John Walton tragically died in a plane crash and Christy donated the home to the International Community Foundation, the parent foundation of Olivewood Gardens. That was in 2007. Olivewood Gardens became their own non-profit in 2010.
The Organic Garden
The center has over 465 annual volunteers and much of the items in the garden have been built by them as well. The organic garden has three different kinds of composting: worm, more traditional palette and food scrap composting. The Center also has the first permitted gray water station in National City.
Their upper garden is geared toward classes and their lower garden is geared towards production. They are able to sell their produce at Specialty Produce and Big Ben Market.
They have one free community event every month as well as days of play and open houses. Check out their website for details.
Mission: The Mission of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is 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.
Address: 2525 N Ave, National City, CA 91950