scott miller

Thom Duncan & Katherine Pair - Friendship Gardens

scott miller
Thom Duncan & Katherine Pair  - Friendship Gardens

Story: Julie Smith   Photo: Steven Mills

Katherine Pair (right) is a family advocate and garden coordinator at Friendship Gardens’ Urban Farm Learning Center at Garinger High School.

At Garinger, 98 percent of the student body lives at or below the poverty line. Pair integrates food into curriculum to help break down social barriers experienced by the multiple immigrant communities represented at Garinger.

“Katherine’s sneaky,” says Thom Duncan (left), co-founder of Friendship Gardens. “She integrates science into the exercises, which share cultural traditions of the immigrant student experience.”

The Urban Farm Learning Center is one of more than 90 gardens in Friendship Gardens’ network. Duncan co-founded the organization in 2009 around a mission to grow, create and share healthy food.

“I never get tired of seeing the connection made by a student, volunteer, or parent, that from a tiny seed great things grow,” says Duncan. “Children of all ages are a joy to watch when they first ‘get it.’ When they dig a sweet potato and their eyes widen at what they've found. There is great joy and wonder in appreciating the things we've taken for granted.”

Each garden donates a portion of its harvest to Friendship Trays, a local meals-on-wheels organization that delivers 750 healthy meals every weekday to people in need.

From growing healthy food, to creating community and sharing passion for sustainable food production, Friendship Gardens is sowing good seeds.

To learn more about the great work of Friendship Gardens, like educational workshops, mobile markets, or to volunteer visit