About Let’s Grow!

Let’s Grow! began as the School Gardens program which was funded by the Orfalea Foundation as part of their School Food Initiative from 2009-2013. Since the program’s inception in 2009 we have installed or enhanced 36 school gardens in nine school districts in Santa Barbara County impacting 8,000 students each year. Let’s Grow! is now an independent program offered through Santa Barbara City College – Center for Sustainability.

Susan Epstein Selected as Santa Barbara’s 2013 Cox Conserves Hero!

Cox Communications and the Trust for Public Land announced that Susan Epstein has been selected as Santa Barbara’s 2013 Cox Conserves Hero.

Cox Conserves Heroes honors volunteers who are creating, preserving or enhancing outdoor spaces. The finalists were chosen by a judging panel of local environmental leaders, and the winner was selected through online public voting.

As Epstein’s nonprofit of choice, Let’s Grow! part of the Center for Sustainability at Santa Barbara City College will receive $5,000, promotion through on-air public service announcements and 20 volunteer hours donated by Cox employees. Epstein is an advocate for conservation practices that have led to greener and healthier environments for thousands of children in the Goleta Valley.

As a parent and Goleta school board member, Epstein led efforts to eliminate pesticides in 120 acres of playing fields used by the district’s 4,000 students and community groups. The district’s use of alternative green practices has become a model for other county agencies and districts.

Gardens in Schools

  1. Gardens connect students to the food they eat and the environment they live in, encouraging them to make healthy choices for their bodies and their world.
  2. Gardens foster community by connecting students, teachers, school staff, parents, and volunteers.


  1. Gardens bring education to life by providing a rich environment that inspires students and allows for the integration of multiple curriculum subjects as well as state science and common core standards.
  2. Gardens provide an opportunity to teach responsibility, respect, and cooperation.

Participating Schools

Blochman Union School District

Benjamin Foxen - Blochman GEM Lisa

  1. Benjamin Foxen Elementary School

Buellton Union School District

Oak Valley

  1. Oak Valley Elementary School

Carpinteria Unified School District

1st Grade students, Aliso Elementary School Carpinteria, 2010

  1. Canalino Elementary School
  2. Aliso Elementary School
  3. Summerland Elementary School
  4. Carpinteria Family School

Goleta Union School District


  1. Brandon Elementary School
  2. Ellwood School
  3. Goleta Family School
  4. Hollister School
  5. Isla Vista School
  6. Kellogg School
  7. La Patera School
  8. Mt. View School
  9. El Camino School
  10. Foothill School

Guadalupe Union School District

Mary Buren Elementary School, Guadalupe School District, 2009

  1. Mary Buren Elementary School

Lompoc Unified School District

Trenton Pollari, Kindergartner, La Honda Elementary School, Lompoc, 2009

  1. La Honda Elementary School
  2. Hapgood Elementary School
  3. La Canada Elementary School
  4. Los Berros Elementary School
  5. Buena Vista Elementary School
  6. Fillmore Elementary School
  7. Miguelito Elementary School

Los Olivos School District


  1. Los Olivos Elementary School

Orcutt Unified School District

Orcutt Academy - Casmalia-Diane

  1. Pinegrove Elementary School
  2. Orcutt Academy
  3. Olga Reed

Santa Barbara Unified School District

Ava Gosselin, an OAS 1st grader, enjoys sorrel in the garden. September 2010.

  1. Adams Elementary School
  2. Adelante Charter School
  3. Cleveland Elementary School
  4. Franklin Elementary School
  5. Harding University Partnership School
  6. Monroe Elementary School
  7. McKinley Elementary School
  8. Open Alternative School


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Let’s Grow! Team

Adam Green

The Environmental Studies Program Coordinator at SBCC, Adam is an ecologist by training with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and wildlife biology from University of California-Davis, and graduate degrees in wildlife ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Trish Stone-Damen

A former biology teacher, Trish became increasingly interested in organic food production for her family’s well being and that of the community. She returned to education (following a career in law) rekindled by volunteering with the School Gardens Program at her daughter’s school.


NikiAnne Feinberg
Former (Founding) Program Manager


NikiAnne has chosen to make her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. As a founding manager, NikiAnne’s future involvement with the program will be to advise on program management and visioning as needed.


Ramsey Charles Cronk

As a landscaper, Ramsey was inspired to focus on installing backyard food gardens and school gardens in Oakland, CA. which then led him to the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems Apprenticeship program at UCSC.

Alexis Schoppe


Alexis is transitioning to full time motherhood. She will continue to follow the progress of the program through her husband Ramsey, who is the Installation Coordinator, and she will assist in conducting annual GEM evaluations.


Sarah Amiri
Garden Educator – Cleveland Elementary (SBSD) and Kellogg Elementary (GUSD)

Sarah’s passion for watershed outreach and organic gardening stemmed from her years of research with harmful algal blooms offshore the Santa Barbara Channel.  Sarah has worked for several environmental non-profit organizations, National Parks, and LTER programs throughout the nation.   She is excited to combine native plants with organic vegetable and flower beds at each of her schools, with the goal to incorporate more veggies in the cafeterias.


Carlos Bardales
Garden Educator – Franklin Elementary School and Adelante Charter School (SBUSD)

As a team leader in the AOK program, Carlos discovered how much he enjoyed working with elementary school children and is now excited to share his knowledge and love of nature, art, cultures, dance, and music in the garden.


Ashley Borman
Garden Educator – Goleta Family School, Foothill Elementary School (GUSD)


Ashley’s interest in slow food and organic gardening led her to WOOF on a biodynamic homestead in France and later develop a gardening program from the ground up at Girls Inc. in Santa Barbara.


Jana Brody
Garden Educator – Brandon and La Patera (GUSD)

Jana combines her love of good food and nutrition, as well as art and science to challenge and inspire creative young minds to become healthy individuals; and in time healthy adults and parents.


Shelby Wild-Brown
Garden Educator – Los Berros, Fillmore and Buena Vista Elementary Schools (LUSD)

Born and raised in Lompoc, Shelby feels at home working as a GEM at the very school where her children now attend.  Shelby has worked as an AmeriCorps English tutor for at-risk youth and an Instructional Aide in LUSD, and is ready to bring her love for gardening and the outdoors to a broader range of children.


Lisa Cousins
Garden Educator – Monroe Elementary (SBSD)

A credentialed teacher, Lisa is passionate about teaching, gardening, and helping children express their creativity through art, cooking and exploring the natural world. At home, Lisa and her husband tend to a large backyard garden and small flock of chickens.

Kathi DiPeri
Garden Educator – Mary Buren (GUSD) 

Kathi brings years of experience and a love for organic farming, environmental education, and working with children to the fabulous garden programs at Mary Buren and Los Berros Elementary Schools in Guadalupe and Lompoc.


Colleen Guerrero
Garden Educator – Pine Grove School (OUSD)

A lifetime love of the seasons, soil and plants influenced Colleen to earn a degree in Agricultural Management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Colleen looks forward to connecting the next generation with their food and Mother Earth.


Lisa Wickenden Harris
Garden Educator – Benjamin Foxen School (BUSD)

Lisa’s own children attend school at Benjamin Foxen which led her to became interested in the school garden as a tool to educate students about the food they eat and their environment.


Jesse Hersh
Garden Educator – Hollister and Mt. View School (GUSD)

Before completing his M.S. in environmental education at Southern Oregon University, Jesse designed, installed, and maintained edible and native landscapes in the Bay Area.


Nick Hoyle
Garden Educator – El Camino School (GUSD)

Nick’s teaching experience in the Farmer in the Classroom program in LAUSD combined with his work at Tutti Frutti Farms provides a strong base upon which Nick will grow as a GEM. Nick also looks forward to sharing elements of his Oriental medicine practice where he helps clients with nutrition, movement and other integrative lifestyle decisions.


Maggie Iba
Garden Educator – Aliso Elementary (CUSD)

Through her experience teaching in South Korea, working on a goat farm in Northern California and obtaining a permacultre design certification, Maggie found that there is no better way to connect to the earth and discover than getting your hands dirty.


Diana La Riva
Garden Educator – Harding University Partnership School (SBSD)

After many years of studying environmental science, plants and soils at Purdue University, Diana spent a year volunteering on small organic farms in Italy. Her love for food, sustainable agriculture, community and teaching led her to the position of garden educator at Let’s Grow! where she can cultivate veggies and children’s interests in healthy living.


Linda Martinson
Garden Educator – La Canada School (LUSD)

After receiving a degree in Fine Arts, Linda shared her knowledge with her community and established art enrichment programs for youth with lessons often tied to the study of nature.


Wendy Robins
Garden Educator – Adams and Open Alternative (SBSD)

Gardening and eating have always been two of Wendy’s favorite activities and now she is able to share this love with elementary school children at Adams and Open Alternative Schools where her children attend.


Kjessie Rubke
Garden Educator – Carpinteria Family (CUSD)

Equipped with an MS in Crop & Soil Science from Colorado State University, a sense of adventure gained while teaching Agro-ecology in the Peace Corps in Africa, and artistry developed while managing a local organic farm, Kjessie’s passion for education and good food is boundless.


Jennifer Scarano
Garden Educator – Olga Reed School (OUSD)

After replacing her traditional lawn and home landscaping with an organic kitchen garden in 2009, Jen decided to put her skills to use helping kids make the connection between food and health. Her 15 years working in the horticulture and landscape restoration fields, along with her degree in Environmental Horticultural Science, prepared her well for her current position building a new school garden at Olga Reed.


Mike Vergeer
Garden Educator – Ellwood and Isla Vista School (GUSD)

When he’s not visiting farms around the world, Mike enjoys watching aha! moments alight in his students’ faces and experimenting with what he has learned about permaculture.


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Contact Information

For all general inquiries, please contact us at:letsgrowsb@gmail.com


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Check Out What We’re Doing

Social Medias:

Facebook: This website is a networking homepage designed to update friends on current garden-related news and updates on Let’s Grow!.  https://www.facebook.com/SchoolGardensProgram?ref=tn_tnmn

Let’s Grow! Blog: This blog is a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Let’s Grow! Program GEMs as a way of sharing successes and stories in the garden. Participating lead teachers are invited to contribute as well. http://scoolgardens.wordpress.com/about-scool-gardens/

Google Group: A source of materials, grants, events and other resources for the garden. https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!forum/schoolgardensprogram



Cultivating Kids -This video was produced with footage from UCSB film students.

Asphalt to Garden – This video documents the design and installation of the Adam’s School garden.

Where the Wonder Went –This video was created by UCSB film students Green Screen Environmental Filmmaking program

We would like to thank Santa Barbara City College Professor Candace Schermerhorn and Advanced Documentary Film Students (Chip Fithian, Dusty Miller and John Yznaga) for starting Let’s Grow! Film Archive and UCSB Film and Media Studies Professor Janet Walker and UCSB Film and Media Studies Lecturer Chris Jenkins for dovetailing their GreenScreen project of the Environmental Initiative of UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center with Let’s Grow!. UCSB Film and Media Studies students Lydia Leclair, Francesca Richiedei, Lee Dod Susan Dworsky, Bryan Latchford, and Casey O’Hara, who wrote and produced these stellar films in their class


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Get Involved

Let’s Grow! is offered through Santa Barbara City College – Center for Sustainability. The mission of Let’s Grow! is to connect K-6 students to their food and the environment through the gardens. Our program objectives are: to develop gardens in public schools throughout Santa Barbara County and to support educators in using these gardens to enhance the learning experience of students through the integration of the garden into their curriculum.


The School Gardens Program continues to blossom, in part, through the volunteer efforts of local college students and other community members. Since its inception in April 2009, the program has utilized the talents of SBCC and UCSB students from various departments, including biology, environmental studies, environmental horticulture, nutrition, film, and art. We look forward to involving more volunteers to assist with special projects in the areas of garden enhancement and garden maintenance, as well as assisting with garden lessons with the students. Volunteering is also an excellent way to learn, from the ground up, about the program should you have interest in a Garden Educator Manager position in the future.


To Get Involved As A Volunteer:

Please send an email to Trish Stone-Damen stating: 1) contact information, 2) current college (if applicable); 3) desired site (see list of schools); and 4) preferred volunteer schedule, e.g. one time or regular schedule. Please note that all volunteers must be fingerprinted, obtain proof of a clear TB test, and be approved by the program before volunteering.


To Get Involved As A Garden Educator Manager:

Please send an email to Trish Stone-Damen with the following: 1) current resume, 2) cover letter); 3) 3 references (contact information). Please note that all Garden Educators must be fingerprinted, obtain proof of a clear TB test, and be approved by the program before working.


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“The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation.”

Thanks to the generous support of the Orfalea Foundation and other community donors, our program has created inclusive garden programs in 35 schools in nine school districts throughout the county in just 4 years impacting 8,000 students. For these school gardens to continue into the future, they need your help.


How you can help …

Become a Lets’ Grow! supporter by making a one-time or monthly donation to our program. A donation of:

  1. $25 buys a school a bed’s worth of seeds or plant starts
  2. $50 buys a school worm bin
  3. $100 buys a school garden 4 organic fruit trees
  4. $500 buys a school garden a set of garden-based text books linked to their curriculum standards
  5. $2000 funds the school garden educator’s salary for two months
  6. $2000 buys a school a greenhouse

Collectively, individual actions create global change. Your actions, your voice, and your choices, all have a huge impact.

Thank you for your generosity and for growing a hopeful future for our next generation.


To make a financial contribution:

Send a check payable to: “The Foundation for SBCC” with a notation earmarking it for “Let’s Grow!” to:

The Foundation for SBCC
Let’s Grow!
721 Cliff Drive
Santa Barbara, CA 93109

If you wish for the money to go to a specific school or school district, please note that as well. Click here for a list of our participating schools and districts.

The Foundation for SBCC is a 501(c)(3) organization. TAX ID # is 95-03234551. Gifts to the Foundation for SBCC are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.


In-Kind Support

Let’s Grow! welcomes your personal garden related services, expertise and products. To discuss how you can help, please contact Trish Stone-Damen at letsgrowsb@gmail.com


With Gratitude

“No person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

We honor all of the individuals, businesses, and organizations who have contributed to the success of Let’s Grow! Our school gardens are becoming sustainable thanks to the generous contributions of materials, time and financial support.


Our Community Supporters Include:

All Around Irrigation ~ Commission Junction ~ AGIA ~ Plow to Porch ~ Las Palmalitas ~ Crush Cakes ~ Maximum Nursery ~ Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf ~ Johnson Ohana Foundation All at Once Campaign ~ Isla Vista Food Co-op ~ Island Seed and Feed ~ Healing Grounds Nursery ~ Tom Shepherd and Shepherd Farms ~ CA Ag In the Classroom ~ La Huerta Garden -Santa Barbara Mission ~ SB County Schools Service Learning Initiative ~ Fairview Gardens ~ Art from Scrap/Explore Ecology ~ California School Garden Network ~ National Gardening Association ~ Western Plant Health Association ~ Disability Resource Center ~ Mac Brown Construction ~ Curtis Mulder ~ SBCEO Partners in Education ~ Prudential California Real Estate ~ Rotary Club ç~ Blosser Urban Garden ~ Network for a Healthy California, SB County Public Health Department ~ Americorps ~ After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program ~ West Campus Stables ~ SB Permaculture Guild ~ UCSC LifeLab ~ Carpinteria Boy Scouts ~ Carpinteria Brownie Troop ~ Rotary Club ~ Carpinteria HS Ag Department ~ Home Depot ~ Lompoc Valley in Bloom ~ Carpinteria Valley Lumber ~ Santa Barbara Sand and Soil ~ Starbucks Coffee Carpinteria ~ Norman Beard Nursery ~Bagel Café ~ Village Farmers Market ~ Sun Grow ~ Full of Life Flatbread Pizza ~ Bell Street Farms ~ Quackenbush Café~ Santa Barbara Beautiful ~Whole Foods Market~ Bragg Live Food Products Company/Bragg Health Institute/Bragg Foundation ~ B&B Foundation ~Beale Family ~ Daniel Katz/Maggie Lear ~ Ellwood Canyon Farms ~ Chi State Life Foundation ~ Jeffrey and Carol Bloom ~ Santa Barbara Natural History Museum ~ Panera Bread ~ Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau ~ California Women for Agriculture ~ Goleta 4H Club ~ Santa Ynez Valley Botanical Garden ~ Buellton Rotary ~ Buellton Senior Center ~ Los Alamos Senior Center ~ Veggie Rescue ~ Fresh & Easy ~ Seeds of Change ~ Suncoast Nursery ~ Red Barn Nursery ~ Valley Rock ~ San Marcos Growers ~ Native Sons ~ Forever Stoked ~ Sedgewick Preserve ~ Yes Yes Nursery ~ New Frontiers Natural Marketplace ~ Cate School students ~ Los Alamos C Gallery ~ Avalon Farms ~ Joyce Azevedo ~Monica Berger ~Ginger Brody ~ Elizabeth Chapman ~Jeffrey Choo ~Lauren Danner ~Steven Fox ~Tara Guillemin ~Cyndy Halverson ~Linnea Hemenez ~Debra Hood ~Lisa Hoose ~Jeni Hurnblad ~Hamlet Inn ~Marcy Jacobs ~Greta Kanne ~Rick Lee ~Carrie Mergenov ~Sam & Julie Moore ~ Anne Palmer ~ Rhiannon Parisse ~Kate & Shaun Porter ~Gloria Putnam ~Jeff Scarano~ Pauline Scarano ~ Stephen Scarano ~ Vincent and Josephine Scarano ~ Tama Takahashi ~Ed & Debbie Weeks ~ AquaFlo ~ Haywards Lumber ~ Santa Barbara Paint Depot ~ Dunn Edwards Paints Santa Barbara~ Santa Barbara Home Improvement ~ Matt Hendren ~ Judy Sims ~ Trinity Gardens ~ The Upham Hotel ~ Sharon Lovejoy ~ Jeff Prostovich ~





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