The new headquarters garden will support One Cool Earth’s garden education program and operations

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — One Cool Earth is partnering with the Jewish Community Center (JCC) Federation of San Luis Obispo. The new headquarters garden will support One Cool Earth’s garden education program and operations from the JCC’s beautiful 10-acre site at the base of Bishop’s Peak. This new space includes a cob oven built by Courtney Mellblom of Farmermaid Flowers, an outdoor kitchen space, garden beds, tent classroom, and a large olive orchard. 

One Cool Earth will utilize this new site for hands-on garden demonstrations, materials distribution, and as a training space for their team and community partners. The organization operates school gardens at 25 public schools across seven school districts in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. Because of their wide reach, the new site provides a home base that will allow the group to come together in a central location. 

The nonprofit is in the process of developing an Early Childhood Education outdoor enrichment program that would be located on the JCC site. This program will be available to students ages 3-5 and will focus on the same three tenants of One Cool Earth’s current curriculum: Zero Waste, Water Wise, and Food Forest. Students will have the opportunity to engage in sensory play and explore parts of the JCC garden site with One Cool Earth-trained teachers. 


Commenting on the partnership, One Cool Earth’s Executive Director Katharine Rondthaler Krieg said: “We could not be more thrilled to set down permanent roots at the Jewish Community Center. We are looking forward to a collaborative partnership where we are able to honor and celebrate food, community, and the land.”

Arielle Leva, JCC board member and property manager, noted “What a beautiful and aligned collaboration our two organizations are embarking on! The cycles of the Jewish year are connected to ancient agricultural roots, our holidays and festivals tie us to the land through the food we eat and other rituals. A major theme in Judaism is the concept of ‘Tikkun Olam’ which translates to ‘repairing the world.’ Empowering the next generation of environmental stewards through hands-on garden education is aligned with this core value. The future is bright sharing our unique property with the OCE team.”

One Cool Earth’s connection to the site dates back to the early 2010’s when the organization’s founder, Lionel Johnston, planted oak trees and other native plants on the property to restore a seasonal drainage. Today, many of his trees and other plantings are thriving, creating a lush habitat for riparian species.

The JCC-Federation of SLO seeks to foster a united community on the Central Coast through programs and services offering educational, social, and recreational activities based on Jewish principles. In addition to the outdoor classroom, the JCC’s property at Laureate Lane features a clay tennis court, and Makom Hillel, their outdoor platform space for worship, recreation, and events. The property will continue to host their popular outdoor summer program, Camp Shoreshim.

One Cool Earth is a SLO County nonprofit that partners with 25 local schools to teach science education in outdoor learning laboratories. Its mission is to create thriving school gardens that grow happy, healthy, and smart youth across the Central Coast. The community can connect with One Cool Earth at and sign up for newsletters for more information.

Feature Image: One Cool Earth brings their program to Templeton Elementary School PTO and Vineyard Elementary School for the first time this year. Photo Courtesy of One Cool Earth