History of the Environmental Learning Center

Beginning in 1998, our co-founders designed the different components that would comprise the Cornucopia Foundation. Each component was intended to be an avenue to further sustainability. Primary among the components was the Environmental Learning Center and the Farmers’ Market. The Farmers’ Market was launched first, with the goal to financially sustain the ELC.Cornucopia’s Malibu Farmers’ Market, along with private donors and grants, have been the primary financial supporters of the Environmental Learning Center. Our hope was to create a successful pilot program that could be replicated in other areas of the country. The Cornucopia Foundation’s Environmental Learning Center is located on over one acre of land adjacent to Malibu High School, Malibu Middle School, and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School. Although it may be beautiful today, our environmental center was once a very different piece of land--it was overgrown with invasive fennel and weeds. Old asphalt was uncovered all over the site and removed, ultimately filling 15 semi-trailer trucks. It took us two years to hand-clear the site for planting, since we stubbornly refused to use any herbicides. Upon clearing the area, we were pleasantly surprised to discover an active stream, which unfortunately had been choked with vinyl, cement and plywood. Cornucopia cleared it, and we now have a year-round stream and ongoing restoration. We then had two semi-trailer truckloads of organic soil delivered. By 2006, the land was ready to sustain our native gardens, the Food Forest of fruit trees and veggie gardens, and the lovely potpourri path that delights the senses and is a favorite of children and adults alike. We continuously add woodchips to help renew and build healthy topsoil. This mulch not only builds the soil, but it also reduces weeds and retains water for healthy plants plus all important water conservation. Starting in 2007, the ELC hosted the Before and After School Enrichment Program. Marking a new phase in its development, Cornucopia began to hold classes during school hours in 2008. The ELC hired its own teacher in 2011. In addition to Cornucopia’s environmental education classes, the ELC is available to all teachers and students. This beautiful outdoor classroom is used by teachers in natural sciences, biology, creative writing, English, Spanish, art, etc. It is our firm belief that the future of our planet is not by chance…it is by choice. We hope that sustainability will be your choice as well, and that you’ll consider supporting Cornucopia with a donation or consider volunteering your time and/or resources.