Growing GSF - Introducing our new staff!

In one fell swoop, Garden School Foundation has more than doubled in size, enabling us to quadruple our impact and provide more opportunities to get kids involved in the ever improving foodscape of Los Angeles County. Expanding beyond our flagship school garden program at 24th Street Elementary School, we have added four new Seed-to Table garden programs, bringing fresh food, nutrition education, and hands on science and language arts classes to an additional 1,200 students in underserved schools.  You can now find our program at Andrew Jackson Elementary School in Altadena, Rockdale Elementary School in Eagle Rock, Grand View Boulevard Elementary School in Mar Vista and Wilshire Crest School in Mid-Wilshire. Please read on to learn more about the dedicated and energetic people bringing Garden School Foundation's mission to life:



Christine Johnson - 24th Street Garden Coordinator

Christine Johnson lives to 1) grow, cook and eat real food, and 2) to do anything and everything that helps others see the magic in growing, cooking and eating real food. She relishes the opportunity to tell you more about her life and inspirations in person - so please come visit her in the garden! Her new role as the 24th Street Garden Coordinator satisfies her mission to develop and support alternative infrastructures that empower and sustain traditionally marginalized communities. Amidst the massive changes taking place at 24th street school this year, she aims to preserve the garden’s most important fruits: the hope and ever-improving health of 24th street’s bright and beautiful students!


 Kathryn Kocarnik - Grand View Garden Coordinator

Kathryn Kocarnik is so thankful to have found a place that connects all of her life passions:  food, community, education, and nature. The previous Garden School Foundation Intern, Kathryn has spent her years working with outdoor school classes, teaching afterschool enrichment clubs, volunteering with urban gardens, building garden education programs, and planting seeds with elementary school students throughout the west coast.  With a teaching degree in health and fitness, Kathryn realized the best way to have kids eat vegetables is to help them grow vegetables.  The best way to help kids appreciate nature is to help them experience nature.  The best way to grow healthy youth is to start from the ground up.  Kathryn is very happy to be a part of the Garden School Foundation and the community of Grand View Elementary School in Mar Vista.  Come join us and experience the garden’s endless possibilities together!


Noah Donnell Kilmer - FoodCorps Volunteer; Andrew Jackson Garden Coordinator and Rockdale Garden Coordinator

Noah comes to us via Boston, but has been living in Los Angeles for the last four years while attending Occidental College. Noah graduated this past May from Oxy where he studied Urban and Environmental Policy. He grew up tending a garden with his parents in their front yard and turning compost in the backyard. As a child he frequented the last working farm in Boston, Allendale Farm, to which he attributes his current love of fresh, local, food. As a student at Oxy, Noah lived in an off campus house committed to sourcing their food from local, organic sources, tending a house garden, and educating fellow students on food justice topics. Additionally, he led a for-credit course at Oxy focusing on sustainable cooking and gardening techniques. The course drew strength from experts in the community and support from school administrators. In conjunction with teaching this course, Noah interned at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy garden where he worked with high school students in the kitchen and garden. Most recently, he spent the summer delivering farm to table grocery boxes all around Los Angeles. In his free time, Noah loves to cook with friends, play competitive ultimate frisbee, and go camping. Noah is very excited to join the Garden School Foundation and cannot wait to coordinate the garden programs at Rockdale and Andrew Jackson Elementary Schools. 


Laila Tamburini - Wilshire Crest Garden Coordinator, 24th Street Garden Manager, Widney High School Greenhouse Manager

As a teenager, Laila delighted in saving sprouting onions from the grocery store and planting them in random places. There was something intriguing about nurturing nature that Laila couldn't help but enjoy. After graduating from UCLA, Laila moved to a rural village in the north-east of France where she continued to save onions as well as teach children English. She found that her students loved talking about food as much as she did so she started an after-school English Club, dedicated to all things culturally delicious. They would meet once a week to discuss their favorite foods and soon, she was bringing in her hot plate so they could cook together. Planting forgotten onions and cooking with kids seemed to make sense but to get a better idea of what growing food was like, Laila moved to the south of France to try her hand at farming. Working on organic family farms solidified Laila's love of nurturing nature. She moved back to Los Angeles to pursue teaching and farming and soon found those two worlds colliding at Garden School Foundation in 2011. Currently, Laila has the pleasure of growing onions as the Garden Manager at 24th Street Elementary School and teaching children how to grow onions (among many other things) at Wilshire Crest Elementary School. When she is not growing onions, she is looking for onions to grow.*

*please note, Laila grows more than onions. She grows shallots and garlic, too.


Luis Sierra Campos - Americorps Vista; Development Associate

Luis Sierra Campos is driven to change the world through innovating technology, urban agriculture, and equitable food systems. He comes to the Garden School Foundation with over ten years of non-profit management, youth development, and multi-media production. Previously, Luis was the Youth Media Advisor for the Boyle Heights Beat / Pulso de Boyle Heights a bilingual (English/Spanish) youth produced quarterly newspaper. He was the co-conspirator in launching Network in Focus: a digital storytelling project—spotlighting women-led social change for The Women’s Funding Network. A network that connects and strengthens more than 160 organizations that fund women’s solutions across the globe, making it one of the largest collaborative philanthropic networks in the world. He’s also a freelance radio reporter, producer, and commentator featured on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and Radio Pacifica. Most recently Luis was recognized by The United States White House for developing Urbanfruit.Ly: the mobile app and website platform where individuals can exchange their harvest through a peer-to-peer network. Luis is the Garden School Foundation’s 2013 AmeriCops Vista member and his goals are to (1) build an effective volunteer recruitment and management program (2) assist in the fundraising efforts and (3) build awareness of GSF’s efforts through social media, storytelling, and community outreach.  Once his year of service is completed he hopes to return and complete his degree at Pitzer College in Environmental Analysis directed in Public Policy and Society.  






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Please watch this fantastic video the wonderful folks at Andrew Jackson Elementary made to raise $5k for the Seed to Table program at their school!