Programs » Garden of Possibilities

Garden of Possibilities

Wednesdays in the Garden: Suspended until futher notice


The Beginnings

In 2006 the newly formed booster club, Friends of Carthay Center, wrote a grant to fund the construction of the Garden of Possibilities. This group, comprised of parents and community members, conceptualized the garden as a tool to enrich the students learning and to engage school families and neighbors in service to their community. With a $10,000 matching Beautification Grant from the City of Los Angeles, parents, teachers, students, community and two key Master Gardeners transformed an unused, asphalted area of the campus into a vibrant garden over the course of a year. The Carthay garden represents a successful partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Carthay community.

The garden Carthay Center is approximately 5,000 sq ft, and is located just off the main play yard. There is one raised bed dedicated for use by each grade level and a variety of in-ground beds. There are several different gardens within the garden proper including: a stone fruit orchard (all varieties bear fruit only during the school year), Citrus Orchard, Tropical Garden, Butterfly Garden and Poetry Garden. Plantings change with the season, but the garden always has a variety of flowers and herbs. Some of the favorite things grown by Carthay students are: papaya, bitter melon, luffah, banana varieties, grapes, pea shoots, pumpkins, mulberrys, watermelon, mustard greens, and arugula flowers. One student favorite is the "cut and come again" salad bed that always has a variety of greens.

In the years following its construction, the Garden of Possibilities has become an integral part of the school’s identity. Carthay teachers and administrators chose to make the Garden the centerpiece of the School for Environmental Studies program.

Watch a video slideshow of the construction of Carthay's Garden of Possibilities. 

Garden Before
Garden After

University of California Master Gardeners

Louisa Cardenas is the Carthay Garden Master.

Master Gardeners are volunteers from the community who are trained by the University of California Cooperative Extension specialists and other qualified instructors using research-based information to promote environmentally responsible and sustainable horticultural practices in the home, community and school landscapes.

Herb Machleder, an expert orchardist, is a co-Master Gardener-creator, along with Louisa Cardenas of the Carthay Garden. He also founded Orchard Angels.

Herb Machleder Master Gardener
If you are a parent or a community member and would like to learn about gardening and apply your gardening skills on a regular basis, become a Carthay Magnet Garden Angel! Contact Carthay Garden Master Louisa Cardenas or Carthay Garden Chair Teresa Dahl for more information. 

STAR Education

 Carthay contracted STAR Science to develop a pilot Garden Science curriculum that links to the NGSS to hands-on, outdoor learning. This parent-funded program is a collaboration between Carthay Teachers, STAR Science Teachers and Master Gardeners. The garden program at Carthay continues to “grow” as its success supporting curriculum has proven to be a real asset. The garden has energized learning on campus. The students love science and have become environmental stewards, healthier eaters, and great observers of the natural world.

Carthay lab 2

Environmental Media Association

Carthay's Garden of Possibilities is sponsored in part by the Environmental Media Association.

The Environmental Media Association (EMA) has a history of supporting urban garden efforts in the Los Angeles area. With its ongoing partnership with the LA Conservation Corps, LAUSD, and now with Nature Works Everywhere gardens, EMA directly supports over 16 school gardens through funding and celebrity mentoring. EMA has partnered with The Nature Conservancy to further enrich children’s lives through nature with the Conservancy’s signature program, Nature Works Everywhere.

See photos of Actress and EMA Celebrity Mentor Amy Smart picking fava beans and exploring Carthay's Garden with Carthay students.


Los Angeles County Natural History Museum

Carthay is the only school in LAUSD selected by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) to host a BioSCAN sampling station, as part of a large-scale insect biodiversity survey across part of the Los Angeles Basin as part of a new research initiative: NHM Biodiversity Science: City and Nature (NHM BioSCAN) . This first-of-its-kind scientific investigation will discover and explore biodiversity in and around one of the world’s largest cities: Los Angeles. In three years of sampling from the urban core right out through less-urban surrounding areas, Carthay will help NHM focus on the insects, the most diverse group of animals on our planet. We will discover and document the diversity of insect species living with us in Los Angeles as well as test intriguing hypotheses about how natural areas around the city affect its biodiversity and, conversely, how urban areas may be affecting their surroundings.

Listen to a KCRW story about the BioSCAN project. Carthay isn't in the radio story but you can see bugs from Carthay in the  photos that accompany the story: SIte #19. 

Carthay bugs at NHM

Seeds of Change grant for community gardening project

Carthay was awarded a grant through a national grant program by  Seeds of Change to open Carthay's 5,000 square foot garden to the local community, offering workshops on seed saving, square foot gardening, garden cooking, soil conservation and composting as part of a broader effort to encourage healthy eating. The hope is that the school will become a hub for information sharing in support of healthy, sustainable living. The Seeds of Change Grant Program is funded by the brand’s 1% Fund, the company’s commitment to donate 1 percent of its global net sales to sustainable, community-based nutrition, gardening and farming programs.

Read more at The Los Angeles Daily News.


Carthay's Garden was built in part by Big Sunday volunteers.

Big Sunday is a nonprofit organization that works to build community through community service. Volunteers come from all kinds of neighborhoods, and work in all sorts of neighborhoods, too. The idea is that everyone has some way that they can help somebody else.

Read a LA Times article about Big Sunday at Carthay

Listen to a NPR story about Big Sunday at Carthay