Grow Your Own

Growing garden ecosystems at home and at school.

 

Transform our urban environment into a vibrant ecosystem by creating a diverse garden network. Through gardening, we encourage our community to rebuild their connection to food and the natural world — all while contributing to a healthier ecosystem.

School garden leaders – click HERE for resources especially for you!

Grow / Services

Eco-Design Guild

Connect with our Eco-Design consultants to learn how you can cultivate a thriving oasis in your community.

Learn More
 
Scott Sporleder, Photographer
Grow / Curriculum / For Teachers

Resources for School Garden Educators

Are you a school garden teacher, administrator, or volunteer? Whether you are an experienced garden leader or just starting out, we have resources and curriculum specifically for you.

The Magic of Community Starts in Schools!
Grow / Solutions

The Magic of Community Starts in Schools!

A Letter from Evan

By partnering with a school, empowering leaders, and cultivating a garden, we are able to impact not just the students, but the parents, teachers, and entire community.

I’m Evan Marks, founder and visionary behind The Ecology Center. I traveled the world managing and designing farms before deciding that the place I could make the most impact was where I grew up — Orange County. The community that came together around this idea successfully transformed a dirt lot and vacant historical home into a vibrant ecological oasis in just a few years.

We decided to put the change we’d like to see throughout our community in action here. By creating The Ecology Center as a model of ecological design, we use our space to educate and inspire individuals to transform their homes, workplaces, and schools.

Although we apply a variety of solutions towards creating a more positive future, we have come to realize that schools are a powerful hub for community change. One of our most established programs, Grow Your Own!, is a support network that helps to start and maintain school gardens in dozens of local schools. By partnering with a school, empowering leaders, and cultivating a school garden, we are able to impact not just the students and their habits, but the parents, teachers, and entire community.

Kids consistently inspire us with their creative thinking around ecological designs. By empowering the youngest among us to be the leaders of the future, we generate exponential benefit throughout the community.

These students then take the knowledge home — they push their parents and relatives to think differently about our relationships to the natural world and each other. We then get the joy of seeing parents and teachers join our community to begin their own eco-journey through workshops, events, and festivals at The Ecology Center.

It is for this reason that we treasure our relationships with local schools. Throughout the years, we continue to invest in these partnerships and evolve our efforts to support the community. This is also why we are absolutely thrilled to announce a partnership with Alice Waters’ organization the Edible Schoolyard Project. The Edible Schoolyard Project has provided support, curriculum, and healthy meals for decades to school children throughout America. It is an honor to stand alongside them in support of edible education and vibrant schoolyards.

There’s something magical that happens when a young mind inspires change. Leading up to our annual fundraiser Green Feast, we’ll be celebrating school gardens alongside our new partners. We are excited to share with you accessible garden curriculum for teachers, an interview with Alice & the Edible Schoolyard Project, and continuing inspiration around our shared mission: a garden in every school.

Join us. The future is abundant!

In gratitude,

Evan Marks
Executive Director, The Ecology Center

DIY / For Teachers / Grow

Construct a Veggie Box

Build your own veggie box planter and grow your own food anywhere!

 
 

Are you empowered to grow your own?

If so, you’re in the right place.

With a veggie box, you can grow your own food anywhere – the backyard, front porch, driveway or patio. Growing food in a container such as a veggie box allows you to easily control weeds and pests, reduce water consumption, prevent run-off, save energy from reduce transportation, reduce costs, and the list goes on…

Materials
  • Tape measure
  • Carpenter's square
  • Pencil
  • Saw or chop saw (optional)
  • Power drill
  • 1/8” Size drill bit
  • Screwdriver of power screwdriver (optional)
  • 15/8“ Outdoor deck screws (24-30)
  • 21/2" Outdoor deck screws (4-8)
  • Work gloves and eye protection
  • Clamps (optional)
Instructions
  • Cut the 1”x 4” planks into 12 planks each 16” long.
  • Cut the 2”x 2” into 4 legs, each 233?4” long.
  • Now start construction. Work on a firm, flat surface such as a good work bench. Use the 15/8” screws when securing the planks to the legs. Place 2 legs on the bench and place one of the 16” planks over them. Using the square, line up one plank with one leg. (Don’t worry about the other leg for now, it’s just to support the plank.) Make sure the edge of the plank is flush with the top of the leg post and the end of the plank is flush with the edge of the leg. Be certain they are square. Have someone hold them or clamp them while you drill and screw them together.
  • Line up the other leg at the opposite end of the plank, so that the end sticks out past the edge of the leg. The amount it sticks out should be equal to the thickness of the planks. Use a piece of scrap wood to measure. Be certain they are square. Drill and screw the plank to the leg.
  • Now attach the next plank, keeping it up close to the first plank but stagger the ends so it sticks out past the edge of the first leg. The amount it sticks out should be equal to the thickness of the planks. Use the scrap bit to measure. Drill and screw the plank to the leg.
  • The 3rd plank is lined up just like the 1st. Drill and screw it in place. One side of your box is now complete.
  • Repeat steps 3 thru 6 to construct a second side exactly like the first side.
  • Ask a friend to hold both sides up, leg posts on the inside. Take another 16” plank and place it between the two sides, adjusting the distance between the two sides until the plank fits just right. Check that everything is fairly square. Have your friend hold steady while you drill and screw. Tip: Consider where your screws are posi- tioned so they don’t bump into the ones already screwed into the leg. If this happens just back the screw out and try again with a little angle as you screw it in.
  • Repeat with the other two planks so you have 3 sides all attached together.
  • Now repeat on the opposite end to form 4 sides - you will have a box with no top or bottom. Tip- Check your right angles before you drill and screw. You can push and pull the box a bit here to get it a bit more square if needed. However, don’t worry about it being perfect. This is not fine furniture!
  • You now have a box with legs but no base. Flip the box upside down so the legs are sticking up in the air. Measure across the middle of the base. The distance should be close to 151?4”. Now cut a plank to to fit across the span of your box. This will be the support for the base planks.
  • Position the support plank in place, use your scrap bit to recess the supports. Drill and screw the sup- ports in position.
  • Measure for the base planks and cut them. They should be about 151?4” long. 1?4” or so short is fine as this allows the wood to swell a bit. Place the base planks perpendicular across the support plank. Space the base planks evenly. Small gaps are fine since they aid drainage. Drill and screw.
  • Flip it over, fill it with a mix of soil and compost, and get growing.
 
DIY / Grow

How to Make and Plant a Veggie Box

This video from Houzz TV will teach you how to start and seed a veggie box.

For Teachers / Grow

Plants, Seeds, & Local Nurseries

Turn to your community to find the resources to build a thriving school garden.

DIY / Grow

Apply Soil Ammendments

How to nourish plant life.

Grow / Solutions

10 Ways Urban Farms Benefit the Community

From backyard beekeeping to roof-top vegetable gardens, community spaces, front yard orchards, and window boxes — urban farmers grow where they are.

 
Scott Sporleder, Photographer
Grow / For Teachers

Grow Your Own!

Our school garden program works to connect students, parents, and educators to create healthy, vibrant communities.

DIY / Grow / Solutions

How to Start a Worm Bin

Composting at home is simple. Learn how you can get started.

Tools to Dig In

A few of our favorite hand tools for cultivating an organic garden that thrives.