By Wendy Thies Sell
The next time you sit down at Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos for fresh seasonal specials or the acclaimed flatbread pizza, you’ll know the story behind the salad.
Just a half mile from Full of Life grows a garden tended to by mini green thumbs—children at the local elementary school whose tiny hands planted the red leaf, green leaf and romaine lettuce seeds, held the hose to water lettuce buds, pulled weeds and harvested the leafy greens.
Community volunteers arranged the raised vegetable beds, assembled irrigation systems and designed pathways. Now the garden program is part of the curriculum, allowing eager children to get their hands dirty every week.
“Sometimes I water, sometimes I mulch, sometimes I pull weeds, sometimes I cut the lettuce,” says nine-year-old student gardener Madeline Davies.
Garden education manager Jennifer Scarano strives to connect her students to the earth, “teaching kids where food comes from—that it doesn’t come from a store, a box, a can.”
The garden is so bountiful that nearby restaurants Café Quackenbush and Full of Life buy the organic lettuce weekly.
“I’m looking forward to what else the kids start growing, maybe some vegetables,” says Full of Life’s chef Brian Collins. “Maybe in a few years we’ll get a cook from the school who started with the garden program.”
Originally published in the Fall 2013 issue of Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.