A tour of Olivewood Gardens in National City.

Yesterday I enjoyed an awesome tour of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City.

As you will see in my photographs, Olivewood Gardens is a very special place.

It’s a green paradise in the middle of an urban setting, where students, families and neighbors learn about organic gardening and good nutrition. Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is the destination of school field trips, where city kids can experience the virtues of a vegetable garden, being active outdoors, and environmental stewardship. There are also classes where parents learn how to prepare healthy meals, and how to become leaders in their community.

Graduates of Olivewood’s Cooking for Salud program are called Kitchenistas. They are integral participants in this non-profit organization’s educational programs. The Kitchenistas, through a Community Engagement Program, proudly work to improve the well-being of families throughout National City!

Patty Corona, the Cooking for Salud Coordinator, showed me all around Olivewood Gardens. We toured most of the grounds and checked out several demonstration gardening areas. We then walked through Olivewood’s historic Victorian house and its kitchen, which serve as the hub for a variety of fun events and educational activities.

In 2006, the beautiful 1896 Queen Anne style house and surrounding gardens were generously donated by the Walton family to the International Community Foundation “with the goal of leveraging the property to engage, grow, and promote healthy communities and dialogue through civic engagement and philanthropy in the San Diego-Baja California border region.” Through their own personal experiences, the Waltons understood the importance of eating healthy foods.

Learn more about the history of ICF and Olivewood Gardens, and the positive programs that are offered to the community, by visiting their website here.

Please enjoy these photographs from my tour! And read the photo captions for much more information.

I was excited to discover this small paradise in San Diego’s South Bay area, where gardens flourish, the sun shines, and nature’s beauty and healthy people thrive!

A view of Olivewood Garden’s beautiful Victorian house from N Avenue in National City.
One of many works of art gracing Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
Various signs near the the late 19th century house provide visitors with information.
Oliver H. Noyes, National City postmaster (and retired senator from New Hampshire), built this Victorian house for his family in 1896. They sold it in 1947 to the Newlan family, who sold it to John and Christy Walton in 1985…
In July 2006, Christy Walton donated her former home and garden to the International Community Foundation to increase cross-border dialogue and philanthropy…
An area of the garden north of the house where school students gather, experience and learn.
Beds with growing vegetables, where young hands can work in the earth.
Look at all the healthy veges growing in this organic garden!
When I was young, my family had a large vegetable garden. Simply standing here brought back happy memories.
More surprising artwork in the garden. A stunning mosaic depicts colorful flowers.
Here’s a small succulent garden, demonstrating native plants.
Mural on a garden shed is bright with fruits and vegetables. By artist Brianna Perkins.
Don’t hog the water. Think several generations ahead.
Many butterflies like these, decorated differently, can be found in parks around National City. They were created by artist Roberto Salas, the Kitchenistas, and families from around the community.
As we walked along, I spied these sunlit roses.
A closer look at the beautiful sculpture you saw earlier from the street. It’s titled Reina de los Mares (Queen of the Seas), by artist Rocio Sánchez.
Walking through a lush green world.
We’ve arrived at another larger garden south of the house.

A sign describes Lukas’ garden…

When the Walton family lived here, their son Lukas was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three. When his cancer returned…his parents decided to treat him with herbs, juices, and produce they grew themselves. They made changes to their garden, growing all their food organically (with no chemicals) and biodynamically (by building healthy, living soil).

Lukas graduated from college, cancer-free in 2010.

A funny mural painted by the chicken coop.
Olivewood Gardens is filled with natural beauty.
A nursery on the grounds, overlooking National City Golf Course.
Taking a trail few other visitors travel.
On the hill above the golf course, Olivewood Gardens is growing dragon fruit! These interesting cacti are indigenous to the Americas.
Delight.
Making our way back to the Victorian house. This is where many classes, events and activities are held at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
A mermaid sculpture beside the house.
Hand prints from the four members of the Walton family.
The kitchen area, where healthy cooking classes for students and parents take place.
Gorgeous stained glass window in the nearby dining room, where presentations to local teachers are also made.

The following few photos provide a taste of the house’s amazing interior decoration.

An old photograph in one room shows the house as it appeared over a century ago. Today the historic house remains in absolutely pristine condition.

Photograph of the Oliver H. Noyes home, circa 1900.
A smile at a very special place in National City!

Feeling inspired?

Do you want to volunteer, become an intern, learn gardening, take a cooking class, request a speaker, book a private event? Would you like to take steps toward becoming a community leader, so that you can create positive change?

Want to learn more?

Visit the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center website here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Swedish Chef makes pizza in Normal Heights!

The Swedish Chef must be taking a break from The Muppet Show. Because he’s been spotted at Mama Mia Pizza Restaurant in Normal Heights!

Or perhaps it’s his blond brother. I can’t say for certain.

I approached the famous chef and said “Herney ferney börk börk börk.”

He did not seem amused. He merely stared back at me through his bushy eyebrows.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Photos of Tanabata Festival in Balboa Park!

Late this afternoon I stepped into the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park to enjoy their first ever Tanabata Festival!

I arrived half an hour before the festival officially opened, and as time progressed more and more people arrived for this joyful summer event. I lingered for a while to enjoy the sights, smells and tastes, and to learn about various aspects of Japanese culture and the Tanabata holiday.

According to the Japanese Friendship Garden website: “Originating from Chinese folklore, Tanabata is a holiday that celebrates the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi. Separated by the Milky Way, the stars Orihime and Hikoboshi are able to meet once per year on the seventh day of the seventh month. On Sunday, July 7th, JFG has partnered with the Minatomo Japanese Community to have their inaugural Tanabata Festival in San Diego!”

As I walked randomly about I learned about the Tanabata tradition of tanzaku: wishes are written on small pieces of paper which are then hung with other happy decorations on bamboo. I paused to admire some living moss art–kokedama. I then walked down into the Lower Garden.

Outside the Inamori Pavilion yummy Japanese food was being prepared. Inside the elegant pavilion there was artwork, including some bright, very colorful fluorescent paintings. I caught the first scheduled performance in the pavilion, which was an onigiri (rice ball) preparation demonstration. I was shown how to easily fold a paper flower.

I then headed back to the Upper Garden and listened as Write Out Loud presented a Japanese fairy tale. I paused to admire a bunch of origami artwork that was being created.

Every person I met was smiling.

I hope this is the first of many wonderful Tanabata Festivals at the Japanese Friendship Garden. That is my wish.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Fun fungus fair! A mushroom show in Balboa Park!

A mushroom fair was held this weekend in Balboa Park inside the Casa del Prado. The event was put on by the San Diego Mycological Society.
A mushroom fair was held this weekend in Balboa Park inside the Casa del Prado. The event was put on by the San Diego Mycological Society.

There’s a fungus among us! I’m not kidding!  (Groan.)

All sorts of mushrooms were on display inside Balboa Park’s Casa del Prado today during a special show by the San Diego Mycological Society.

I wandered through this cool “mushroom fair” and took a good look around. And I learned quite a lot!

Check out a few fun photos and some informative captions…

Mushroom enthusiasts check out all sorts of displays at the mushroom show. Mushroom facts, art, and food products like jerky were plentiful.
Mushroom enthusiasts check out all sorts of displays at the mushroom show. Mushroom facts, art, and food products like jerky were plentiful.

Several tables exhibited different types of mushrooms one might encounter in nature. The San Diego Mycological Society puts the fun in fungus!
Several tables exhibited different types of mushrooms one might encounter in nature. The San Diego Mycological Society puts the fun in fungus!

These mushrooms are all edible. Some are said to taste better than others.
These mushrooms are all edible. Some are said to taste better than others.

A basket full of Bolbitius vitellinus. Labelled edible but mediocre. According to Wikipedia, it's inedible. I'm no expert.
A basket full of Bolbitius vitellinus. Labelled edible but mediocre. According to Wikipedia, it’s inedible. I’m no expert, so don’t ask me.

Cooking with Wild Mushrooms. (Click image to enlarge the sign for easy reading.)
Cooking with Wild Mushrooms. (Click image to enlarge the sign for easy reading.)

Okay, these are definitely poisonous! Children were advised not to touch. I steered well clear!
Okay, these are definitely poisonous! Children were advised not to touch. I steered well clear!

Here's a monster yeast fungus so villainous that Captain Marvel had a tough time coping with it.
Here’s a monster yeast fungus so villainous that Captain Marvel had a tough time coping with it.

I do know that much of the art displayed at the mushroom show was quite tasty!
I do know that much of the art displayed at the mushroom show was tasty!

Check out this fascinating poster and the following photo. Spore prints show how spores are ejected from the mushroom gills.
Check out this fascinating poster and the following photo. Spore prints show how spores are ejected from the mushroom gills.

These spore prints strangely remind me of human thumbprints.
These spore prints strangely remind me of human thumbprints.

An artist created some spore print cards, hand made from mushrooms found in San Diego! Cool!
An inventive artist created some spore print cards, hand made from mushrooms found in San Diego! Cool!

Volunteers from the San Diego Mycological Society are collecting mushroom specimens found throughout the county. Tiny tissue samples will be barcoded for species identification.
Volunteers from the San Diego Mycological Society are collecting mushroom specimens found throughout the county. Tiny tissue samples will be scientifically barcoded for species identification.

All sorts of arts and crafts, books and fascinating stuff was for sale at the mushroom fair.
All sorts of arts and crafts, books and fascinating stuff was for sale at the mushroom fair.

Colorful mushroom ornaments!
Colorful mushroom ornaments!

UPDATE!

I swung by the annual event again in 2018. I saw many of the same interesting exhibits, and snapped a couple more fun pics…

Spore print cards and a fun fungus pillow!
Spore print cards and a fun fungus pillow!

Cool mushroom artwork for sale.
Cool mushroom artwork for sale.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to enjoy!

Pics inside Old Town San Diego’s restaurant museum.

A variety of dried food hangs from the ceiling. The kitchen of the Commercial Restaurant museum in Old Town is a place where visitors are transported back in time.
A variety of dried food hangs from the ceiling. The kitchen of the Commercial Restaurant museum in Old Town is a place where visitors are transported back in time.

There are dozens of cool things to see in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I’ve barely scratched the surface so far with my blog.

For example, there’s a small free museum right next to the central Plaza de Las Armas called Commercial Restaurant. A rather dull name, but a very interesting place jam-packed with history!

The small recreated restaurant shows what life was like in the mid 1800s, back when San Diego was downright tiny. The Commercial Restaurant is comprised of two rooms: one contains the dining area, the other, the kitchen. Originally called the Casa de Machado y Silvas, the house was built by José Manuel Machado and given as a wedding gift to his daughter María Antonia, and her husband, José Antonio Nicasio Silvas. The simple adobe building was converted into a modest restaurant by its owners in the early 1850s. Today it stands as one of the five historic adobes in Old Town San Diego.

I’ve provided a bit more info in the photo captions!

Photo shows the Commercial Restaurant museum, which is free and open to the public in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Photo shows the Commercial Restaurant museum, which is free and open to the public in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

La Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego was turned into Commercial Restaurant, later renamed Antonia Restaurant.
La Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego was turned into Commercial Restaurant, then later renamed Antonia Restaurant.

Bienvenidos. Come inside. See the recreated Commercial Restaurant. Established in 1854 within the Casa de Machado y Silvas, a home built in 1843. Museum open 10-5.
Bienvenidos. Come inside. See the recreated Commercial Restaurant. Established in 1854 within the Casa de Machado y Silvas, a home built in 1843. Museum open 10-5.

The dining area of the Commercial Restaurant. This is was what it was like to eat in style in the mid 1800s. Many exhibits along the walls recall the history of old San Diego.
The dining area of the Commercial Restaurant. This is was what it was like to eat in style in the mid 1800s. Many exhibits along the walls recall the history of old San Diego.

Art on one wall depicts the grinding of corn. Other nearby maps and graphics show how food is related to our city's history.
Art on one wall depicts the grinding of corn. Other nearby maps and graphics show how food is related to our city’s history.

In the mid 1800’s, when New England travelers arrived by ship to Old Town, they sought out a dining establishment serving meals like they would find at home, including stews, soups, crackers, bread and cow’s milk. Over the years, exposure to native Kumeyaay cooking influenced the European diet and became integrated into the region’s cuisine.

As a captive labor force under the Mission system, the Kumeyaay performed their tasks using traditional tools and methods of preparation as a way to continue their cultural identity.
As a captive labor force under the Mission system, the Kumeyaay performed their tasks using traditional tools and methods of preparation as a way to continue their cultural identity.

Display case contains artifacts used in the daily life of San Diego residents almost two centuries ago.
Display case contains artifacts used in the daily life of San Diego residents almost two centuries ago.

Shelves in the Commercial Restaurant contain old jars, goblets, bowls, bottles, plates and more.
Shelves in the Commercial Restaurant contain old jars, goblets, bowls, bottles, plates and more.

It was 1948 when a secret hiding place was discovered in one of the adobe's window wells. Within the niche were two documents relating to life of an early Old Town San Diego resident.
It was 1948 when a secret hiding place was discovered in one of the adobe’s window wells. Within the niche were two documents relating to life of an early Old Town San Diego resident.

Historical documents discovered by archeologists hidden in the Casa de Machado y Silvas shed light on the life of San Diego resident Allen B. Light. He was also know as the “Black Steward”. Allen arrived in California during the 1830s, aboard the sailing ship Pilgrim, the same vessel that brought Richard Henry Dana Jr. who would later write Two Years Before the Mast.

One document was “a sailor’s protection”, which proclaimed Light was a “coloured man, a free man, and a citizen of the United States of America”. The second document was his commission from the Mexican Governor of Alta California to investigate illegal sea otter hunting along the coast.

A peek into the recreated kitchen next to the dining room. Cooking was rather primitive in early San Diego.
A peek into the recreated kitchen next to the dining room. Cooking was rather primitive in early San Diego.

A table full of peppers and vegetables. What life was like many generations ago, in the kitchen of Old Town's Commercial Restaurant museum.
A table full of peppers and vegetables. What life was like many generations ago, in the kitchen of Old Town’s Commercial Restaurant museum.

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Funny cooking pictures and quotes!

People who love to eat are always the best people. Julia Child
People who love to eat are always the best people. Julia Child

I spotted these funny pictures and quotes on some windows in the Horton Plaza shopping mall food court, in downtown San Diego. I’m not sure if this particular eatery closed down or is soon to debut. I saw no sign. But I had a good laugh!

If you are what you eat, then you might as well eat something good. Ratatouille
If you are what you eat, then you might as well eat something good. Ratatouille

Life is grate!
Life is grate!

Bake the world a better place!
Bake the world a better place!

Rock and Roll (some dough).
Rock and Roll (some dough).

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Chefs flood the streets of downtown San Diego!

Chef carries a frying pan outside on a downtown San Diego sidewalk.
A friendly chef carries a huge frying pan outside on a downtown San Diego sidewalk.

Chefs have taken to the streets of downtown San Diego! They can be seen almost everywhere! Cooks on every corner–but where’s my breakfast?

Chef in restaurant window happily flings some pizza dough into the air.
Chef at restaurant window happily stirs the sauce and flings some pizza dough into the air.

Cook on Sixth Avenue proudly shows his chalkboard menu.
Culinary artist on Sixth Avenue proudly made a chalkboard menu.

Chef tosses a mosaic pizza at base of artistic Little Italy Landmark Sign.
Chef tosses a mosaic pizza at base of the artistic Little Italy Landmark Sign.

This smiling chef has prepared a tasty slice of pizza!
Another smiling chef has prepared a tasty slice of pizza!

This Kansas City Barbeque pig is a Top Gun chef. I bet he likes to ham it up.
This Kansas City Barbeque pig is a Top Gun chef. I bet he likes to ham it up.

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Downtown Donut Bar’s window of treats!

downtown donut bar's window of treats

While walking to the Fifth Avenue trolley station yesterday morning, I passed the window of the Donut Bar on B Street. They’d just filled it with the day’s freshly-baked yummy treats and were preparing to open for business. I almost began to drool right there on the sidewalk!

The Donut Bar is frequently listed as one of the top doughnut shops in the entire country!  Wow!

Thought you’d like to have a peek! Good morning!

A pic taken later…

Oh no! The Donut Bar is Sold Out!
Oh no! The Donut Bar is Sold Out!

Look at this bonus pic!

Homer Simpson was out greeting a long line of Donut Bar customers one Saturday morning!
Homer Simpson was out greeting a long line of Donut Bar customers one Saturday morning!