Jul 23, 2010 | By Leslie Carter
The small yellow cottage with its Spanish tile roof that houses the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle was living its mission on July 14 as children and staff harvested ingredients from the bounty just outside the door. The children made crepes topped with fresh peaches from a peach tree in the garden.
The scene was a “Fun and Healthy Cooking Class for Kids, underwritten by Jimbos…Naturally! and taught by Amanda Curry, owner of the Good Food Factory.
The center is part of the Harper Branch of the San Dieguito Boys and Girls Club at 533 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, and yet it is set apart. Sitting on the south side of Lomas Santa Fe it is the brainchild of Barbara Harper, whose name is now on the Boys and Girls Club branch that she has helped to nurture for years. The names of Pam and Marty Wygod appear in the stairstep tiles designed by Betsy Schulz as thanks for their support of the cottage’s latest renovation.
The mission -“to encourage children and adults to make good decisions for their own health and for the well-being of the planet” – guides the planners and volunteers in this special place.
You will find a teaching kitchen designed by Katie Pelisek and two consulting chefs-David Abella and Phillis Carey. There’s also an artist’s studio set up for teaching. The cottage is surrounded by rustic fencing that sometimes works as a trellis for the organic vegetables and fruits being nurtured by the creators and volunteers responsible for it.
The garden designer was Landscape Architect Pelisek, and she has created a kitchen garden of rare beauty. Stone planting boxes surround a sundial. The boxes are home to carrots, corn, squash, beans, gigantic Swiss chard and a small rosemary tree and more. There are apple trees, decorative gourds, artichoke plants and a striking fountain where the water is first caught by aluminum watering cans before falling into a washtub and then into the ground for recycling.
During the Kids in the Boys and Girls Club Summer programs, 150 each day enjoy activities in the kitchen and garden.
This innovative center was introduced to the community on Earth Day in April 2009. Since its opening it has been building a reputation for innovative classes and events, and they are not just intended for children.
According to Tamera Urie, the new director of the center, classes at the cottage emphasize Environmental Stewardship, which involves organic gardening to connect kids with nature, composting (with worms), and recycling, and Personal Wellness, to improve overall health of mind, body and soul. That program will feature cooking classes, nutrition education, fitness classes such as yoga, and a yearly health fair.
Artistic expression fits in here too. Books of both prose and poetry will be read and discussed, possibly as mother-and-child programs. There will be hands-on projects, parenting classes, and guest speakers will be invited who specialize in these areas.
Generating Income and Awareness will be the third area of emphasis aided by building community partnerships, and making the cottage available for rent for special events and private parties limited to 50.
“We are of planning a monthly open house, an afternoon into evening event with acoustic music and gourmet coffee, and light organic treats,” said Urie. “We intend to thoroughly use this space.”
And four times a year there will be a Gardenporium, a homegrown, handmade and hand-me-down market.
“Our biggest challenge is to let people know where we are,” said Urie. “We are tucked away … but once they get here they will realize how quaint and peaceful it is here.”