Olivewood Garden benefit a treat for lovers of fine art, food, music


Art, music and food lovers will have a unique opportunity to attend an afternoon in a beautiful private setting in Encinitas to benefit the Olivewood Garden and Learning Center, a National City-based nonprofit.

From 3-6 p.m. Aug. 16, an exclusive meet-and-greet with several artists from a variety of fields will take place at a private garden enhanced by colorful sea-themed landscaping and sculptural art, known as the Triton Garden Gallery.

The outdoor gallery is on the grounds of the home of event organizer Jolee Pink, founder of Wabisabi Green, an eco-decor business.

Chef Brandon Brooks of Quad Ale will prepare a four-course tasting menu composed of fresh-from the-garden vegetables, locally caught yellowtail, homegrown fruits and more.

The fine art of local artist Donna Butnik will be on display and available for purchase, and guitarist Jimmy Patton and Enrique Platas will sing, with a special appearance by singer Ella Shreiner.

A cash bar will feature Hiatus Cellars wines, a silent auction and free swag bags of local gourmet goodies.

All proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction will directly benefit Olivewood Garden and Learning Center.

The center’s executive director, Healy Vigderson, said that Pink approached her to do the event as a way to spread the center’s mission to connect people with healthy food and help create a healthy environment, “which is right in line with what she is doing in her Living Coastal business and art gallery. It’s a really great partnership for us.”

Olivewood Gardens’ mission is to connect and motivate students and families from diverse backgrounds through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education, empowering them to be healthy and active citizens.

The center’s 7-acre property was originally home to the Noyes family. Its restored 120-year-old Victorian residence still stands on the acreage and has been continually occupied by only three families.

In the late nineteenth century, the grounds were planted in olive orchards. Some of those original trees are still standing on the property, said Vigderson. “We have a rich agricultural history,” she commented.

In 1947, the house was sold to Murvel and Esther Newlan. In 1985, it was purchased by John Walton — son of Walmart founder Sam Walton — and his wife, Christy. Shortly after moving into the home, their son Lucas, then age 3, was diagnosed with a severe form of kidney cancer.

“They were inspired to plant a couple of organic gardening beds on the property, in the late 1980s when this was not mainstream,” Vigderson explained.

Along with traditional cancer therapies, Lucas was put on a strict juice diet made from produce harvested from their plantings, and within a year, the tumor stopped growing. Today Lucas is 28 and cancer-free.

“It is a huge success story and points directly toward the connection of food and health,” said Vigderson.

The Waltons later donated the entire property, with the condition that the gardens that they had created remain in perpetuity. Those beds have now been expanded into a half-acre production garden that provides fruit and vegetables for the Moores Cancer Center’s Healing Foods Kitchen program.

Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center was created to provide programs for the community to use that garden and to inspire and teach others about the connection between food and health.

Consequently, the center is witness to seeing tangible changes in people’s attitudes toward food and their changes in eating behavior, said Vigderson.

People from all over the county visit the center, including students and families. It has a special relationship with the National City school district, offering free programs to third- through fifth-graders, three times a year.

The Olivewood Gardens Benefit Concert, Gourmet Tasting and Art Show will directly benefit these free programs.

For a $65 advance ticket, visit and click on “add to cart.” Or pay $75 at the door. Venue address is 102 Triton Circle, Encinitas, CA 92124

Visit to learn about the center.