Sage Garden Project sows healthy habits with grants to Solana Beach schools

Solana Beach students are learning how to live healthier lives, thanks to the Sage Garden Project.

The charitable foundation recently awarded more than $350,000 to California schools, including a $10,700 donation to Skyline Elementary School and a $10,000 donation to Solana Vista Elementary School, for garden and nutritional science programs.

“Cooking skills and understanding what we’re eating have fallen by the wayside,” said Dawn Mayeda, program director for the Sage Garden Project. “Kids are so receptive to it once you allow them to be.”

Based in Encinitas, the Sage Garden Project offers hands-on gardening and nutritional science programs for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. As one program of The Anthony Cerami and Ann Dunne Foundation for World Health, the Sage Garden Project aims to reduce obesity and Type 2 diabetes in youth by providing the tools and inspiration for a lifetime of health.

The foundation launched a pilot program at Ocean Knoll Elementary in Encinitas four years ago, planting a garden, providing a cooking cart and funding an instructor as part of the curriculum.

As the program proved successful, the foundation began working with other local schools.

The Sage Garden Project has partnered with the Solana Beach School District for the past three years, providing funding for instructors at both Skyline and Solana Vista. Skyline also received a fully equipped cooking cart.

Before the start of this school year, the foundation invited California schools to apply for awards between $5,000 and $50,000 for the 2015-16 school year. A total of 16 schools received funding for staff, as well as support with training, lessons and materials.

“We found 16 schools we couldn’t say no to because they were so great, so needy and so anxious to develop a program and jump in,” Mayeda said.

As part of the awards, Solana Vista received a cooking cart. Skyline and Solana Vista instructors also received all-expense paid training trips to the Edible Schoolyard in June. The 1-acre garden at Berkeley-based Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School connects educators around the world to build and share a K-12 edible education curriculum.

“That was a fantastic experience for everybody,” Mayeda said. “They’re going to be newly invigorated to do even better things this year.”

The Sage Garden Project will continue to work with Ocean Knoll Elementary and will also bring its programs to California schools in El Cajon, La Mesa, San Diego, Julian, Vista, Berkeley, Chico and Sausalito.

For information about the Sage Garden Project, visit