Morning in the Garden of Health and Learning

img_4278.jpgMrs. Betty Beyster endorses good health. She is not only the lead donor of the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice, and Simulation at the University of San Diego Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, but she also is a major supporter of Olivewood Gardens in National City. Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is right in the middle of a socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood with one of the highest childhood obesity rates in California. Its purpose is to build healthy families and a healthy environment.

Recently, Mrs. Beyster invited several nursing students to join her for a tour of the gardens. She thought the tour would help nursing students see nutrition in a different light.

“Nutrition is a big factor in basic nursing and the students are here to see what this offers in opportunities for children and their parents to learn about good nutrition and how to produce it,” Mrs. Beyster said. “Nutrition is such a major part of nursing it’s a good experience for them to see how knowledge is spread around to replace good food instead of fast junk food.”

img_4276.jpgOn a beautiful, late winter morning, several MEPN and DNP students joined Mrs. Beyster for a tour of the gardens and the kitchen where employees and volunteers teach classes and prepare food. The Gardens and Learning Center sits on nearly seven acres of land on N Street in National City. It serves as an interactive indoor and outdoor classroom for healthy living. Employees and volunteers provide education, hands-on gardening lessons, and hands-on cooking lessons for children and families from underserved communities in San Diego County.

Clare Groebner, the Development Director for Olivewood Gardens, said the facility has grown since it opened in 2010.

“Our original program was our children’s program. We started out with just the garden part of things, just getting underserved kids in the garden. We were finding that the kids were getting really excited about being here and learning and they would go home and say ‘I want to do this at home,’ but their parents didn’t necessarily have the skills to make that happen. So our next biggest program is our adult/parent nutrition program and that’s called Cooking for Salud.”

img_5166.jpgCooking for Salud, or Cooking for Health, is designed to help families live healthier lives, which is why the Beyster family began supporting Olivewood Gardens. Mrs. Beyster also believes the property itself promotes health. “The atmosphere is very relaxing; here’s a nice atmosphere of peace and nature and enjoyment.”

Mrs. Beyster’s daughter, Mary Ann, recently directed a documentary, “The Kitchenistas of National City,” about Olivewood Gardens. The documentary won several awards and was shown on many PBS stations. You can stream the video at

If you would like more information on Olivewood Gardens, visit their website at

To view hear Mrs. Beyster talk about Olivewood Gardens, click here.

To see more photos, click on this link: