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The Garden Project

Urban Plantations and Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects


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The Museum’s Garden Project is a demonstration space that is also artfully designed, featuring seasonal edible plants, as well as sculptural elements incorporated into the planting areas.

Location: The New Children’s Museum Park

Key Materials: planter boxes, soil, plants, bicycle wheels, and metal sculptures

What is it?

The New Children’s Museum presents The Garden Project to introduce families to ideas, facts, and questions about California’s habitat.  In partnership with Urban Plantations, this organic, urban installation is designed to feature California as an agricultural leader, showcase native plants and food, as well as introduce contemporary topics related to the environment like drought-resistant planning.  Learn more during hands-on workshops featuring eco-friendly planting activities, education on local plant life, sensory exploration, and other engaging projects. 

Visit the Museum’s Welcome Desk for more information.

What will I do when I get there?

  • Walk through the garden and notice the sculptures and plants.
  • What kinds of edible plants can you find? Are any vegetables or fruit growing?
  • Learn what edible crops are grown from northern to southern California.
  • Study the shapes of plants and leaves.
  • Notice if there are any smells coming from the plants.
  • Stop inside the Museum to see the schedule of hands-on workshops that you can join.

Who made this?

This garden is a result of a collaboration between two organizations that focus on designing healthy environments. Urban Plantations specializes in edible landscaping to make positive changes in our region’s environment and economy. Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects is an award-winning firm that takes special care in creating enjoyable site-specific landscapes that matter to the people who experience them. Together, these two teams designed an artistically beautiful and healthy organic edible environment for children and families to learn how to grow fresh, sustainable and delicious food.

Karen Contreras, CEO of Urban Plantations, is a Master Gardener and Master Composter. In addition to serving on the boards of Roots San Diego and the Urban Farming Curriculum Committee at San Diego City College, Karen also teaches gardening classes in San Diego. Martin Poirier, partner at the Spurlock Poirier Landscape Architects firm since 1990, is passionate about combining elements from different disciplines, including fine arts, in his designs. Both he and Andrew Spurlock, who founded the firm, have been named Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Artist Websites:

What can I do at home?

To extend your museum experience, try the following activities at home.

Creative Action

  • Try your hand at gardening: grow a plant or a few edibles in a pot or raised beds. Find a sunny location and experiment with growing some easy vegetables and/or herbs. 
  • Visit a farmer’s market and ask sellers where their produce is grown, how many days things take to grow, and what seasons items grow in.
  • Grow drought-tolerant plants in your garden or neighborhood to help save water. 


  • Look up on the Internet what a bountiful agricultural state California is. See what is grown and where. Learn what San Diego farmers grow and where their produce is shipped to.
  • Did you know that we have the most diverse ecology of any state in the United States? That means we have the most number of different plants, animals, and environments!  Visit your local library to find books about California’s habitat.