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Ribbon cutting celebrates kitchen and garden project

After more than five years of successfully teaching children how to lead healthier lives at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach, the center has expanded to Encinitas.

Donors, supporters and community members celebrated the new kitchen and garden project during a Nov. 19 open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Griset Branch in Encinitas.

“This has always been my dream,” said Del Mar resident Barbara Harper, the center’s visionary. “I’m so happy that this has come to realization.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito’s Center for a Healthy Lifestyle opened in April 2009 in Solana Beach. The yellow cottage features a teaching kitchen, classroom space and garden, offering children’s after-school programming and summer camps, as well as adult classes.

To expand its programs, the nonprofit opened a garden at its Del Mar Branch in May 2011, and another garden at its La Colonia Branch in November 2012.

Mirrored after the first center at 533 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, the second center at 1221 Encinitas Blvd. features a half-acre interactive organic garden, in addition to the commercial-style kitchen classroom, which

opened in June. Students will learn practical skills and receive vocational training through the garden-to-table program as they grow and prepare healthy food.

“It’s certainly worthwhile to introduce the kids to a healthy lifestyle,” said major donor, Robert Wilson who has homes in Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. “I’m terribly impressed. This is nicely done.”

Located behind the gym at the center, the garden feature trees, plants, an orchard, an herb garden, a greenhouse, picnic tables, benches and more. A fountain sits in the middle of the garden, named in memory of longtime supporter and former Del Mar resident John Coughlin.

Created by San Diego artist Ryan Preece, known as “Zoke,” a roughly 60-by-22-foot mural of a farm with animals and crops, is featured on the back of the gym. Donors are recognized along the wall on the side of the gym.

A total of $275,000 needed to be raised for the project, according to the fundraising page. Although the kitchen and garden are open, the project is not yet complete, as there are plans for an archery field, outdoor amphitheater and more. Donations are still being accepted.

“There’s more work to do, but we couldn’t have done this without the people who gave their money and time,” said David Crean, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito. “It wouldn’t have been accomplished without them.”

For more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, visit bgcsandieguito.org.

To learn more about the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle or to donate to the project, visit centerforahealthylifestyle.org.


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