On Friday, October 20, 2017, youth and adults from nearby housing complexes came out to enjoy the fall weather and carve pumpkins to decorate Buchanan Mall.Citizen Film planned the event and built a scarecrow and laid straw bales. With the help of CommunityGrows staff, Melissa Tang (Director of Programs) and Osceola Ward (BEETS Program Manager)……and BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) Michele and Elius……youth chose their pumpkins, drew faces and commenced cleaning out the seeds and carving. Lots of slimy work……but the results paid off!Pumpkin pie was another highlight.Everyone got to take their creations home to remember a great afternoon celebrating the fall season! For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
Attention BEETS applicants: we’ve extended our deadline!
BEETS will gain skills around landscape design, outreach and communication, and project management. This year we are working with partners to create garden spaces along the Buchanan Mall!
The application deadline is rolling! Apply TODAY!
Download the application below or email Osceola@CommunityGrows.org for more information.
Thursday, May 4, 2017 the Fall-Spring BEETS Cohort graduated. The CommunityGrows staff celebrated the past eight months of their accomplishments with a slide show and BBQ in Koshland Garden. The BEETS program is a stipended, hands-on, outdoor learning experience that provides roughly 20 youth each year with life skills and job-readiness training. The program aims to help youth live healthier lives and build skills for successful futures, with the goals that youth will: learn to make positive choices in their lives, in their community, and for their environment; acquire job skills to prepare for the workforce and futures; and develop supportive relationships with adults and peers.The new model we launched for this cohort in October 2016 lengthened the BEETS program over the academic year and focused on a project learning component. It was a year of growth and adventure for these eight young adults. During the fall, the BEETS completed workshops and trainings on garden maintenance, soil knowledge, planting methods and water conservation. They also completed a ropes course together, bonding and practicing trust and teamwork. They also learned more about food access and justice-particularly the importance of communities having access to fresh, affordable and nutritious food.The learning component scheduled for this cohort allowed the BEETS to work with residents at Plaza East, a subsidized housing community in the Western Addition, to create patio gardens and garden care guides. This project was also an opportunity to explore incorporating a revenue generating component into the program. They learned how to build container gardens from a horticulturalist and entrepreneur who owns her own landscaping company in San Francisco.
There have been positive results in changing up the BEETS Program with an extended period. The BEETS have been able to expand and deepen their learning about gardening, the environment and nutrition; their relationships with each other and staff have grown stronger; and they have expressed appreciation for the increased earning power and financial literacy. With consistent earnings they have been able to create and follow personal budgets which they check throughout the year. The project-based learning component has expanded their job skills, improving their resume and their real-world work experience, and given them a sense of ownership and pride within the community. We also anticipate that the longer time will strengthened their resume and make them more competitive in the workforce post-program. Base on a mid-point survey, 100% of our current cohort thinks they are learning valuable life skills through the program and 100% of participants apply what they learn through the program outside of the program at least once a week. “This session is better [than the shorter session] because I’m closer to the BEETS and this time I was able to achieve my goals because we had more time to work on them,” Barry, a second year BEET said.Cultural relevancy is vital to the work we do. Indeed it is the only way to support low-income and youth of color in San Francisco who are continually displaced from their homes and neighborhoods. For many of the youth we serve, the “environment” is distant, distinct from their everyday lives and concerns. We work to help youth feel safe and welcome outdoors by co-creating and maintaining green spaces in their neighborhoods and connecting them to other youth who look like them and also care about the environment. Our goal is for the teens to connect physically with the outdoors as they learn how they can combat environmental and food injustices which disproportionately impact their bodies and communities. Thank you also to Jaromy Siemers and Liz Holm from our Advisory Board for joining us in celebrating the BEETS!
Our Fall-Spring cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated & Employable Teens) embarked on a special project to improve the backyards of seniors living in Plaza East Apartments. They spent months preparing for the project by learning how to consult with residents, design container gardens and create a garden care guide based on what they learned. The garden guide highlighted the importance of growing organic, having healthy soil, weeding, mulching, watering and pruning. It also had advice on pest management. With a lot of sweat and love, the BEETS transformed overgrown gardens into spaces with endless possibilities. They also worked with the resident to design and build a container garden for their new space. All three residents received a maintained yard, new container garden, a garden tool kit and a garden care guide. One resident said, “I can actually see myself out here in the yard.” We hope our three seniors can spend more time outside in their yards to practice their gardening skills, exercise, get some fresh air and to simply smell the roses.
On February 25, 2017 from 11-4 PM the BEETS held court at the Mind, Body and Soul Community Pop Up at Ella Hill Hutch in the Western Addition. The Pop Up utilized a focus on wellness to provide health services that are affordable, accessible, and consistent in the Western Addition. BEETS Michelle. Eluis and Fawaaz prepared a table with healing spices and vegetables, including mustards, kale, collards and chard for people to sample and take home. They talked about holistic medicines that come from the healing benefit of spices such as black peppercorn, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, cloves and cardamon.
Kerala Vegetable Stew
1 medium sized yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 inch ginger, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (1/2 teaspoon ground)
1 stick of cinnamon
4-5 cloves (or half teaspoon ground)
2-3 pods of cardamom (or half teaspoon ground)
¼ teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon of yellow curry powder
5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium sized carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bunch of collards (2 cups, chopped)
1 cup of shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cups water
15oz can of thick coconut milk
1 teaspoon of salt
- Heat 3 tablespoons coconut oil in a pan.
- Add onions, ginger, cinnamon & crushed spices. Suté onions till translucent.
- Add chopped potatoes and carrots. Mix with onions and spices. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in chopped collards, cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Add 3 cups water.
- Stir in peas.
- Cover the pan with its lid and simmer on a low to medium heat till the potatoes are cooked (check and stir, about 5 minutes).
- Add coconut milk. Mix very well and gently heat through for a minute or two. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.
*Optional: Serve over steamed brown rice.
Your recipe today, spotlights healing herbs & spices!
*From the Seed to Mouth Cooking Class*
A program of CommunityGrows
On Saturday February 4, 2017 the BEETS visited Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ). LEJ promotes ecological health, environmental stewardship, and community development in Southeast San Francisco by creating urban greening, eco-literacy, community stewardship and workforce development opportunities that directly engage and support local residents in securing a healthier future. Their site is located at Candlestick Point State Recreation Area in Bayview Hunter’s Point in San Francisco. The BEETS and LEJ teens worked together in the Native Plant Nursery sharing their experience with growing vegetables and natives. After clearing out some beds, The BEETS talked about vegetables and how to plant them with the seasons.They worked with the LEJ teens to planted peas, cabbage, collard greens and lettuce.
It was great to have everyones energy to clean up the nursery and help wash pots and equipment. The LEJ teen gave us a tour of the nursery and advised us on what plants might be good for our container gardens at Plaza East housing development. We ended the day with a yummy BBQ hosted by LEJ. Barry Tan, a BEET supplied the photos for this blog. Thank you LEJ and everyone for a great day!
On Tuesday, January 17, 2017 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) enjoyed a cooking day at AT&T Park. The park, home to the San Francisco Giants also hosts a beautiful garden. It is a 4,320-square-foot patch, located just under the scoreboard behind the centerfield wall. Beyond providing a one-of-a-kind food experience within AT&T Park, the Garden serves as a living, learning classroom that encourages children to live healthier, more active lives. Through hands-on activities, children learn about the importance of healthy eating, see first-hand where food comes from and how it grows, and roll up their sleeves for a cooking class alongside Bay Area chefs. The BEETS enjoyed harvesting the huge stems of kale, chard and broccoli to make pizzas in the kitchen. They also got to make fruit kabobs which were really delicious!
On a rainy Saturday, November 19th, 2016 many organizations in the Western Addition came together to offer Thanksgiving to residents and families. The lunch included a program with youth from Handful Players, the Western Addition Beacon, Booker T. Washington Community Center, Hayward Reconnect, and the Buchanan YMCA, as well as the SGI Chorus.
Safeway, Bi-Rite Market, Santa Clara Natural Organic and Mo’Magic also provided delicious turkey, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salad and cornbread, as well as pumpkin pie and chocolate cake. CommunityGrows BEETS helped out serving food and greeted folks at the door. At the end of lunch 30 turkeys were raffled off to lucky residents. Here is Ms. Jeanette Dupas-Walker, an active grandmother of youth at John Muir.It was a very homey day with many long time friends and partners. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday November 5, 2016 CommunityGrows held a workday in Koshland Garden to celebrate our partnership with Avila & Associates, and Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). Avila and Associates provides provides civil engineering, environmental services, and water resources engineering services to public agencies at the federal, state and local level; private property owners; civil engineering professionals and other professional service firms. One of the many environmental services they provide is field surveys and regulatory reporting. Leanne Feely-Botanist, Sarah Flaherty-Wildlife Biologist, and Rachel Spadafore-Ecologist/Senior Project Manager, all participants in the workday, do this research. They talked with many of the BEETS about what they do and how they are working to save different endangered species. Here they are with volunteer Janine Kaiser. The morning started with introductions and welcomes from staff members Jay Jordan, Garden Educator, and Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager. Then people commenced to flipping compost, trellising peas, weeding the mustard and strawberry beds, collecting leek seeds, thinning radishes and preparing bed for the BEETS to plant starts. Lots of Jerusalem Artichokes, onions, collards, kale and herbs were also harvested. Sarah Penney-CommunityGrows Advisory Board member, Emily Danford-CommunityGrows office/communications volunteer, and three wonderful students from University High School (Judith Edwards, Joley Costa, and Nicole Cuthbert) also helped out in the garden. At 1:00 PM the volunteers were joined by a group of youth from Friends of the Urban Forest, who led a workshop in pruning trees. Alex Javier, Education Coordinator for FUF, talked about the essentials of pruning and tree care, the types of cuts to make, proper pruning techniques, and equipment safety. Then the youth went off to the orchard to trim back and prune the fruit trees. It was an amazing workday with lots of knowledge gained about the environmental field and how to care for the earth through the pruning of trees. Thank you Avila & Associate and Friends of the Urban Forest for a very engaging and worthwhile day. For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday October 22, 2016 our new cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) spent the day at Ft Miley/Lands End in San Francisco doing a ropes course from 9-4 PM. The event was hosted by the Pacific Leadership Institute of the Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Department of San Francisco State University. Our goal for the day was to have fun, learn something new about ourselves & others, challenge ourselves, and develop trust & teamwork skills. It was a great event to bond the new BEETS and get them ready for the rest of the year! The ropes course was a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity which consisted of high and low elements, taking place on the ground and also in trees. The morning started out with team building and working together to solve problems. These fun activities were all intended to build trust and create team work. In the afternoon the teens got to use belays for safety when they were instructed carefully by the Ropes Course crew. Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to exert tension on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far. A climbing partner typically applies tension at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removes the tension from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing. Here are some reflections of the day:
“Going from rope to rope felt like me taking a risk in real life. It was there in front of me, but I was too scared to let go of my safety line. But I eventually did it and I hope I can do that in real life with my goals, as I was able to go farther when taking the next rope.”
“Before I would do mostly everything by myself because I believe that I can get by with anything without anyone. Today I learned that I actually need people to support me to keep going and friends to help me reach the goal.”
“Today’s course taught me that we should never give up and always face the challenges we will meet in our life…”It is hoped that the teens will keep talking about their experiences from the day and revisiting the learning they took away. Hopefully they will incorporate these experiences into their daily lives. For many more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.