There has been a growing demand and interest in local, sustainable farming and organic produce. However, most of us are still unfamiliar with where our produce comes from, and the people who grow our food. This project aims to facilitate dialogue between San Diegans and the passionate, dedicated people working in local farms and community gardens who are making a difference in our communities.

Ami Hooker, Albert Einstein Academy Elementary School, South Park

“I was born in Ontario, California and then I moved to North County San Diego when I was in 9th grade. I went to college and I studied Chemistry and then I became a science teacher. I’m really into gardening now, and I think it’s a great way for kids to learn science.”

“Back when I taught in San Francisco, I used to take my students to my own house because it was an urban school with asphalt everywhere. Occasionally we would try to build small boxes at school to show the kids how to grow vegetables, but there wasn’t enough space and the plants were always dying. So, I decided it would be easier if we planted the plants at my own home. This was a long time ago, and it was a small school, a private school, so I was able to take the kids on the bus. I lived close to the school and we would go to my house and I could water the vegetables at home and take care of them.”

“So that’s how I became interested, because I was teaching them life sciences, and I really felt that when they worked with soils and saw the bugs, and were able to plant seeds and then see them through the harvest, it gave them a really rich experience of their study of plants. So that’s how I began studying about gardening, science and gardening. And then with my own kids, I always felt it was important for them to be outside, so I wanted to volunteer at the school to do that.”

“The world that our kids are going to inherit from us is not the same world that our parents enjoyed, or our grandparents certainly enjoyed. And over time it’s going to be more and more important that kids have the basic skills for growing food that people my age just don’t have, because we are accustomed to going to the grocery store. My parents didn’t live on a farm, my grandparents didn’t live on a farm. In the United States, we are many steps away from the production of our own food.”

“Dealing with something like composting is really earth-shattering to children. Sometimes at lunchtime I bring the compost down because, here at Albert Einstein Academy, we have zero-waste programs, so we compost our school lunch waste and use it in the gardens. The kids are supposed to sort their trash and they put recycling trash in one place, and the green waste in another container. And if I bring the compost to the lunch harbor, they are shocked. They can’t believe that those vegetables become the compost right here at school. They don’t even believe what I say… I’ve had to walk kids all the way back to the area and say, “See, look! These are apples and strawberries, and it becomes this.” I think that for future generations, the kids are going to need to know how to compost in their own homes and in their own schools.”

2 Responses to “From Science Teacher to Garden Educator”

    • cristalchen

      Dear Betsy,

      It was a great pleasure to interview Amy for my project Farmers and Me. Spread the word about this website. Also there will be an event on March 27 at the Art Produce Garden in North Park to introduce this project. Go to this link to see more information. Invite any anyone, families and children in your community to join us on this day.


      Cristal Chen



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