Seven Arrows School: Fully In Bloom!


Welcome to Seven Arrows!
Welcome to Seven Arrows!

When Jamie Oliver, the British celebrity chef, cookbook author and Food Revolution guru is a former parent at the school, you can imagine what its gardens look like…they’re amazing. Jamie is a former parent at Seven Arrows School. While there, he inspired a series of gorgeous edible gardens that fill every nook and cranny of the compact campus. Working his magic with kids and plants of all shapes and sizes, Jamie infused the school with edible gardens that combine healthy eating and knowledge of eco-friendly gardening as part of the curriculum. This flagship program is the first thing you notice when you enter the school!


Edible Garden Message


Seven Arrows is an urban school located in suburban Pacific Palisades. It is a small K-6th school, with a total of 120 students and one class per grade. Walking into Seven Arrows on a recent morning, I was immediately impressed by the schools visuals, which are a mix of subtle and dramatic. Bold colored buildings stand out against the bright green gardens, sprinkled with barely blooming flowers. Shade and sunny areas combine to create a pleasant outdoor space. Edible plants add a sublime touch.


An edible garden
An edible garden


The school reflects the vision of its founder and head of school, Margarita Pagliai,
 a very dynamic educator originally from Columbia. Seven Arrows, just 15 years old, has a very vibrant, energetic feeling, much like the personality of its founder. I chatted with Margarita, who is earnest and expressive, as she oversaw the Wednesday preparation and cooking of the garden harvest of fruits, vegetables and herbs in the outdoor classroom. “Gardening is a part of the school culture,” Margarita told me. “Every kid is engaged!” she said.

Excitement was palpable as various stations were set up and kids utilized the outdoor classroom to chop, clean, cook and eat food fresh from the edible garden. Serving as a roadmap for a lifelong approach to healthy eating, the gardening program stands out for its innovative qualities. The school gardens and the outdoor classroom are a defining element of this cohesive school where healthy meets delicious!


Outdoor Classroom
Outdoor Classroom


I met with Omid Kheiltash, PhD, Seven Arrows’ assistant head of school/admissions director and Lindy Berman who also works in admissions. They are both engaging, friendly and very knowledgeable, talking about the type of learning that takes place at their school and its signature programs.


The kindergarten classroom
The kindergarten classroom


Omid told me that Seven Arrows is a school where academics are the result of the intersection of old and new concepts. The curriculum is versatile and streamlined, with a focus on academic rigor taught within a progressive approach. Taking the best from tradition, “drill and thrill” memorization are used, but progressive elements like collaboration and choice balance the approach to learning.




“Education can’t stagnate,” both administrators emphasized. Seven Arrows makes sure the staff utilizes the latest technology and teaching tools. The school is a big proponent of technology. There is a math/technology specialist on staff. All technology is integrated into what the kids are learning in the classroom. In 5th and 6th grades, students have iPads and laptops. Bringing these resources to lower grades is the goal for next year.


First Grade classroom
First Grade classroom


One of the most compelling aspects of the school is its emphasis on values and beliefs. There are seven concepts that form the centerpiece of the school’s expectations for behavior and learning, including Respect, Pursuit of Excellence, Fairness and Empathy. There aren’t just words on a page. They are ideas, which are thoroughly embedded in the school’s programs through a monthly focus on a different value each time. Counsels (school meetings) are used to discuss issues like cliques, emotions and empathy. “The messiness of life is learned in a safe place,” says Omid.


Edible garden
Edible garden


“Jamie Oliver’s legacy at Seven Arrows resulted in “Woolly Pocket” gardens are brimming with plants, herbs, and vegetables on virtually every outdoor surface. These “Woolly Pocket” planters maximize planting potential and are one of several innovative ideas we hope will be emulated by other organizations interested in edible gardens located in urban areas. A visitor to the school may also wish to test their knowledge of fruit trees as you stroll through the campus (beautiful signs will aid you if you need to take a peek!)” (Source: Seven Arrows website).




Kindergarten is a time for individualized attention in a warm, supportive environment designed to foster a life-long love of learning. By 5th grade, students are writing seven page multi-media research papers on their chosen topic. Global and world festivals throughout the year are a time for celebrating diversity of all kinds. Fridays are Kuyam or all-school assembly days where parents and the entire school comes together as a community to hear guest speakers, see kids perform, sing and celebrate the Seven Arrows community.


Campus View


When I asked Omid and Lindy what their admissions team is looking for, the answer was, “Parents who want what we have to offer.” Good to know!


Placement at top-tier secondary schools is taken seriously by Margarita. She makes in-person presentations to the schools where her 6th graders are applying. As a result, 94 percent of students are accepted at their first or second choice school including Harvard-Westlake, Brentwood, Viewpoint, Crossroads and other highly competitive schools.


Eating Area


Seven Arrows truly shines by drawing inspiration from its surroundings, with just the right mix of whimsy and seriousness. Unexpectedly, delightfully green, the school is complete with everything a child needs to flourish. Clearly, no dream is too big at Seven Arrows!

For more information, visit 

Edible Gardens LA: Creating School Gardens That Delight And Inspire Kids

Lauri Kranz, Founder of Edible Gardens L.A. and Christina Simon in The Willows School Garden

At 8 a.m. on a bright, sunny morning surrounded by bok choy, lettuce, wildflowers, kale and one very large sunflower, I sat down with my friend, Lauri Kranz, founder of Edible Gardens LA at The Willows Community School to talk about her amazing work building the Willows School garden. I first met Lauri when our kids were in kindergarten at The Willows. She’s a friendly, eco-minded mom of two boys with an eclectic, urban style. One of our most memorable afternoons was spent at Lauri’s house where she hosted a “Pilates and Margaritas” party. She makes a fabulous fresh margarita (or two!). Lauri, who is quickly becoming known for her beautiful yet practical gardens, works with celebrity chefs, families and schools (Willows, Westland and Walther Preschool) to create edible gardens. For this talented garden designer, the focus is on creating gardens that bring people and nature closer together.

Question: How did you become interested in school gardens?

Answer: I’ve always loved gardening. I got very involved in teaching gardening when I started volunteering at The Willows when my son was in DK. I’ve been gardening ever since!

Question: What’s the best thing about gardening with kids at schools?

Answer: There’s nothing better than watching a spark go off when the kids make the connection between the garden and where their food comes from. They learn about how a seed turns into a seedling and then into a plant that is harvested and used to make food. Their excitement about this process inspires me.

Christina's son having fun gardening with Lauri at The Willows

Question: Do you think school gardens motivate kids to eat vegetables?

Answer: Absolutely. Even the pickiest eaters will pluck a snow pea from the trellis and eat it. I have parents tell me that their kids, who never eat green vegetables, come home from school are suddenly eating vegetables.

Willows School Garden

Question: What are you obsessed with right now?

Answer: Greenhouses

Lauri Kranz at The Willows School

Question: Do you have a favorite garden store?

Answer: Sunset Nursery in Silverlake

Question: Do you have any recipes you’d like to share?

Answer: Chef Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC and The Tavern) has an amazing recipe for green rice. In Suzanne’s garden we are growing loads of herbs and fennel.  Here is Suzanne’s delicious recipe for green rice, which uses generous amounts of both.

Green Ric

1 cup chicken stock

1/2 cup packed parsley leaves

1/4 cup packed mint leaves

2 tablespoons minced chives

1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup finely diced fennel

3/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 dried chili d’arbol

1 1/2 cups white basmati rice

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Directions:

Bring the chicken stock and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot and turn off the heat.

Place the parsley, mint, chives, and cilantro in a blender. Add 1 cup of the hot stock and pureé the herbs on medium speed (keeping your hand tightly over the lid so it doesn’t explode). Slowly pour in the rest of the stock and purée on high (holding the lid again) for almost 2 minutes, until you have a very smooth, very green broth.

Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until they release their aromas and light golden brown. Pound them using a mortar and pestle.

Quickly rinse out the chicken stock pot and heat it over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, diced fennel and onion, ground fennel seeds, chili, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onions and fennel are translucent. Add the rice, 1 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Stir well to coat the rice with the oil and vegetables. Add the herb stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the butter, cover, and cook the rice 15-20 minutes, until tender. Turn off the heat and leave the rice covered for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and taste for seasoning.

For more information and inspiration, visit, Edible Gardens LA