Organic Garden

Our two-acre garden site includes a flourishing natural habitat complete with ADA approved meandering pathways, contemplative spaces and opportunities to commune with nature.

Our gardens serve as a reality-based work training environment; where students receive individualized support from managers who are trained in the field of horticulture as well as excel at working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is our aim to provide training in a natural environment that cultivates more than strong, healthy plants – but an area where students focus on goal attainment, develop physical and mental skills, hone social interaction, build self-esteem, strengthen a sense of community and personal accomplishment. It is the provision of individualized support that makes the garden experience successful for individuals with varied expectations and with unique needs.


Our gardens include two 1500 square foot shade houses and a 1000 square foot climate controlled greenhouse, a full citrus orchard, vegetable and flower gardens, ornamental trees, shrubs, herbs and a worm farm. We specialize in California acclimated succulents, perennials and trees, and always have a unique collection of whimsical garden ornamentation available.


Horticulture students have the opportunity to learn propagation methods, plant seeds, nurture growth, learn customer service and so much more in this innovative program that empowers students. From their work in the gardens, our students use these skills to improve their daily lives and branch out as important contributors to the greater community.


The public is welcome to visit our garden by appointment only.


Sophie’s Garden provides training for approximately 75 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities each week.

Sophie’s Garden holds the following certifications or is a member of the following organizations:


  • San Diego Horticultural Society
  • Certified Organic Producers
  • San Diego Orchid Society
  • Natural Wildlife Certified Habitat
  • American Horticulture Therapy Association
  • California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers


St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center Programs – On Common Ground


The Horticulture program, like all of the exciting programs offered at St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, is rooted in a strong foundation that stems from our values based mission: To empower adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to discover, experience, and realize their full potential as members of the greater community.


Important programs such as these can only be sustained through committed partnerships. Much of the gardens’ success depends upon grants and both private and corporate donations to cover the expense of maintaining the gardens. Donations are always welcome and appreciated.


Developing these partnerships represents an important investment in our students’ future and important investment in or communities. By celebrating and focusing on people’s abilities, not disabilities, this partnership between St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, the students and the community enriches all our lives.


Other Programs
& Specializations

Adaptive Computer Training

This innovative program trains adults with developmental disabilities to learn basic computer skills using adaptive technology equipment that meets each student’s individual need.

Aquatics Program

St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center Aquatics Program offers quality classes, year-round, to the general public and to our SMSC students. Swimming is an enjoyable social and/or recreational experience that also provides a broad spectrum of health benefits.

Culinary Arts Training

These courses qualify students to prepare and serve daily meals. SMSC’s goal is to teach skills that will help students find employment opportunities in the food service industry.

Employment Services

SMSC’s Employment Services Program is a community-based program that serves adults with developmental disabilities who are in the process of acquiring vocational skills, and generally need support and direction in obtaining and retaining employment.


Developing communication skills is important. At SMSC a licensed speech/language pathologist assesses individual speech and language abilities and provides instruction and activities in small group settings.

Sophie's Gallery

In the 1970s, SMSC expanded its curriculum to offer its first art classes. Many students who had not been able to express themselves through traditional means were sharing their once hidden feelings through vibrant, original works of art on canvas, wood, glass and other media.

Activity Center

Activity Center programs focus on the development and maintenance of the functional skills required for self-advocacy, community integration and employment.

Adult Development Center

The goal of the Adult Development Center program is to offer a variety of opportunities, which aim at increasing the level of independence, as well as improve the overall “quality of life” for those we serve.

Behavior Modification

The purpose of this program — which is offered on a consumer-to-staff ratio of 1:3 — is to increase consumers’ level of independence, and decrease their level of behaviors, while they are involved in work and other meaningful activities.

Senior Program

This program is open to those aged 50 and over. Our primary focus is the promotion of an environment that is conducive to the discovery of recreational alternatives, the improvement of an individual’s leisure skills, and enhancement of the retirement experience for our senior population.

Supported Employment

Supported Employment services are aimed at finding competitive work in a community integrated work setting for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities who need ongoing support services to learn and perform the work.