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Bedford Village Elementary students Jax Olsen and Emmet Kennedy taste chives from their school garden.

Featured Article

Planting Seeds of Change

From celebrity clients to school students, Kaleidoscope Garden Design is growing generations of environmental stewards.

Walking up the gravel path to the picturesque home office of Kaleidoscope Garden Design, it’s no surprise that there are countless potting plants lining the walkway. The front door opens and Roscoe, a massive senior dog and unofficial mascot of Kaleidoscope, hobbles out to greet me. “Roscoooooe!” The voice belongs to Alexandra Forrester, co-founder of Kaleidoscope and a Bedford native. She walks toward me, fresh-faced, her air-dried hair pulled back into a ponytail. Roscoe decides that I’ve brought nothing of interest to him and saunters off to rest under a shade tree. “He’ll lay there for hours,” she says with a laugh. “He loves being outdoors.” 

It’s nice weather, so Alexandra and I settle in on her quaint back deck, adorned with hummingbird feeders and more potting plants. Toby Adams, Kaleidoscope's co-founder and longtime Director of The Edible Academy at New York Botanical Gardens, has joined us, carrying a large garden salad that he harvested himself. There’s a joke about potato salad, so I ask its significance. 

What’s funny about potato salad?

Toby: So as you know, Kaleidoscope partners with schools to build their vegetable gardens and create a gardening curriculum for each grade. When we launched in 2011, we wanted to prove our worth and had the idea for a Potato Salad Challenge. Long story short, we harvested 40 pounds of potatoes and worked until 2am the night before the challenge, cleaning and boiling potatoes to bring to school the next day. That was the first and last year of the Potato Salad Challenge. 

Give me a breakdown of your school gardening curriculum. 

Alexandra: We create fall and spring curriculums that directly support learning standards in the Natural Sciences, Math, and English Language Arts, and incorporate what kids are learning exclusive to their grade level in support of classroom teachers.

Toby: We also offer family friendly activities through the summer recess period to build community. It’s great for families new to the districts because it serves as a soft opening for meeting people. Our gardens bring them together.

What does Kaleidoscope do with its extra harvest?

Alexandra: In 2020, we hosted virtual workshops with the schools. Toby and I went to each school to harvest and donated 1,000 pounds of produce that season to Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, among others. We constantly donate from our harvests. 

Is there a cause that Kaleidoscope aligns with?

Alexandra: Support local farms. Care about what goes into your body. And I encourage everyone to educate themselves on the Seed Savers Foundation, which aims to save our diversity in seed stock. It’s a massive issue on a global scale and it effects all of us every day. 

You’ve been building and managing school gardens for almost 20 years. What are your most memorable moments?

Toby: A college student reached out to me about her thesis on food politics, exploring the need for equal access to healthy foods. She told me that she was in our program in elementary school and it made a lifelong impact. 

Alexandra: I once had a group of 7th grade boys planting tomatoes. One started singing a song, and all the other boys began singing along. It wasn’t meant to be silly - they let their guard down because they were having a great time. Kids these days are a bit disconnected as a result of electronics, and school is stressful. Gardening is a therapeutic outlet for them.

You design and manage residential gardens, also, and have done many of them around here, including for many celebrities. Who was your first residential client? 

Toby: It was a decade ago; the parent of a student in our program. Her daughter loved the curriculum and she’s still our client today. 

Alexandra: We have several school families with gardens in their backyards, and we even garden with them. Kids have a rewarding experience gardening at school, and it’s creating positive change in our communities for generations to come. 

To learn more about Kaleidoscope Garden Design, visit 


"We’ve created a dynamic school gardening curriculum that students get to experience with their classmates and teachers, and it’s important to extend that learning beyond the classroom to make it a lifestyle at home." 

  • Bedford Village Elementary students Jax Olsen and Emmet Kennedy taste chives from their school garden.
  • Kaleidoscope Garden Designs founders Alexandra Forrester and Toby Adams.
  • Students get hands-on with planting and harvesting as part of their Kaleidoscope curriculum.