Spring is in the air and, with all the sunshine, our gardens are flourishing! But the sun isn’t the only reason the gardens are looking so fresh — the BEETS have been out in the gardens planting, watering, weeding, and cleaning to make our spaces more healthy and inviting.
Who are the BEETS? Beyond our gardening and cooking programs for younger students, we also offer teens the chance to earn money as they learn life and job skills, experience nature, explore issues of food equity and environmental justice, and improve both their personal well-being and that of their neighborhood and communities.
But our BEETS program extends beyond just a paid after-school position: it’s an opportunity to become a part of a supportive team while working toward personal and professional goals.
Learn more about their stories from a volunteer’s perspective as Alana shares her experience working with the BEETS:
“Alongside the flourishing of the kale and fava beans we planted, I’ve witnessed a different kind of flourishing in the BEETS participants.”
As a volunteer with CommunityGrows’ young adults program, I joined the participants in tending local gardens to help plants grow. My greatest delight in being a part of the program, however, has been in watching the young adults themselves grow. And as I move on to my next chapter in my life, I’m grateful to look back and realize how much the BEETS have helped me grow.
Alongside the flourishing of the kale and fava beans we planted, I’ve witnessed a different kind of flourishing in the BEETS participants. One BEET, after gaining deeper insight into our food system through the program, decided to become a vegetarian. Another makes significant progress in improving her English, an important step toward her goal of becoming a computer programmer. A third inspires me as he continues to save up for a car and ultimately to become a mechanic. All of the BEETS exhibit maturity in following through on their responsibilities as well as thoughtfulness in their discussions.
“The BEETS introduced me to a beautiful side of San Francisco I had never seen before.”
I began volunteering with CommunityGrows to gain hands-on experience with urban agriculture and to give back to the community. To my surprise, the support I received through the BEETS program helped me expand into new areas of personal growth. The BEETS introduced me to a beautiful side of San Francisco I had never seen before. From tucked-away community gardens just blocks from my home, to the nationally-famous garden within the Giants’ Stadium at AT&T Park, alongside the BEETS I learned about the thriving urban agriculture community in San Francisco.
Perhaps most importantly to me, though, was the inspiration and support I drew from the BEETS as I prepared and applied for grad school in a new field – a scary risk for someone in the middle of her career. The struggle of studying for tests, researching scholarships, and searching to find the right path forward in life was made easier because I was able to share and learn from the BEETS, who were all facing similar challenges. Though I’m now moving on to get that degree the young adults motivated me to keep pursuing, I’ll carry with me the memories of these inspiring youth and the lessons they taught me.
— Alana, BEETS Program Volunteer 2017-18
We’d like to take a moment to appreciate all that Alana, BEETS Program Manager Osceola, and the BEETS themselves have accomplished through this session — from their work in the garden to cooking at the Giants Garden at AT&T Park, to touring Alcatraz, and helping teach younger students. This group has already had an active year, and it’s not over yet!