Pasadena Learning Gardens

Resourcing communities to create a healthier more sustainable future


We believe in the transformative power of time spent in a garden, especially with friends doing good work.  We call these places Learning Gardens, they are in school gardens, community gardens,  community centers, parks, churches, and at private homes.

For years we’ve been helping Learning Gardens arise and prosper, now through insights gained through this experience, partnering with the La Casita community and participating in the Pasadena School – City Partnership process  we have re-focused on collaboration.  Every garden should be serving multiple communities / needs – a meeting place as well as a place to learn how to grow seedlings, to grow seedlings, and pick up seedlings to grow at home (creating our new target, the home based learning garden – where families, kids, neighbors anyone can learn something or share a story).

We support multiple projects all the time – some knowledge, some soil amendments, some plants – it doesn’t take a lot, sometimes with a lent book or a “read this page on the web site” comment, and sometimes with a lot more…

.  The next semester we taught in PasadenaUSD, Luther Brubank in LAUSD / Highland Park, and private school Sequoya

School Gardens

We began working with school gardens at Norma Coombs in 2008 – the first PLG learning garden and work day.


We gave Aveson a number of fruit trees and arranged for a couple truck loads of compost – I even had my first dawn run in a large dump truck-  mountains of organic compost steaming in the morning it smelled like victory.


And at Muir we found collaboration.  After a failed attempt to have an afterschool group – “Food Revolution”, teacher Doss Jones found financing for a PCC class where I got to teach in the garden while two plant scientists from the Huntington Gardens and the Biology department at PCC, taught the second half in the classroom, and we recruited students from the community and got three teachers, a councilor, and a number of community members to join the Muir students.  We studied sustainable landscaping the next semester where my coteacher was tied into the local sustainable landscaping / permaculture community and we ripped out some lawns and dug into the space that is now Muir Ranch.  In 2008 we stuck a shovel in the ground and began building the intellectual and physical infrastructure for an Urban Ag based educational and producing resource, all while helping some kids graduate.  Now this humble beginning has become the Muir Ranch where Mud Baron has a jobs / gardening / nutrition program where kids are running a garden and a CSA, eating great fruit, all while feeding local school garden programs with seeds, plants, soil, and knowledge…

We also have helped and look forward to helping again Sequoyah School, Odyssey, and Blair HS.

We learned  a lot, we are learning a lot…

Community Centers

We love community centers.  Our original home garden was at the Coral Innovation Center, between the Eaton Canyon wash and a stables it was pretty wild, especially to the kids in the program.  Coral Learning Garden – first home to Pasadena Learning Gardens

VG class April 2013 highres_224501612

With coyotes eating soaker hoses; rabbits eating lettuce, the horses next door providing entertainment and nitrogen and local peacocks adding to a very cool sound scape, it was a great garden – we offered many classes and the UC Victory Garden curriculum.  We also hosted a potluck for NELA Transition, a sacred space for the first Urban Ecosystems Agriculture class at the Huntington, and two bus loads of the nations leading school garden advocates came on the American Horticulture Societies national school garden conference tour.

Now we’re based at La Casita, a community center nurtured by the Armory Center for the Arts,  and our primary school garden at one of the first PUSD Community Schools, Madison Elementary is just across the block.   We’ve tuned up the soil and are teaching a great group of mothers how to garden.

Altadena and Pasadena Community Gardens

I am a member, board member, and big advocate at the Altadena Community Garden – founded in the early 70’s and located on a large county park this is a great model for county  – community partnership.  We teach classes at the garden and are regularly in dialog with the garden about ways to be a bigger resource to the community.  Our main educational effort is around tending the rose garden and propagating roses and an appreciation of this gateway plant to gardening….

Private Spaces

Marty’s home

Panther Ridge Farms

Zorthian Ranch: Our newest project!!! We are building an organization and outdoor learning facility that will function fundamentally as a community incubator for groups wishing to understand natural systems and those who would champion the wisdom/produce gained from working with these systems.

Check out our upcoming events at our meetup

Luther Burbank Middle School (LAUSD)

Luther Burbank MS Learning Garden

Community Farms: For three years we have supported school gardens and community gardens in our community and now are looking to champion the formation of community farms. Community Farms are a collection of neighbors who collaboratively design a system to feed themselves top quality food at a fraction of normal price, and in so doing learn a lot about nature, themselves and their community.

2 thoughts on “Gardens

  1. Where is Martinez Ranch?

    • Hi Roberta,

      Martinez Ranch is a house with a wild garden / homesteading project started by my apprentice Chris Martinez. It’s on Marengo in Altadena and he is off to do 8 weeks studying natural building so I hope there will be workshops coming up at Zorthian and at his place. We’ll post everything in the meetup.

      Mark Rice

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