We are honored to be included as partners with neighborhood residents, Green Streets and the Exploratorium to reactivate Buchanan Mall. This narrow park is 6 blocks long on Buchanan Street in the Western Addition, between Grove and Eddy. Right now many housing development butt up against it, as well as the Rosa Parks Senior Center, the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center and the African American Arts and Culture Complex. It currently features playground equipment & is lined with benches, mostly not used and uninviting to residents. It has felt unsafe for over a decade, and thanks to a grant from the City, people are coming together to redesign the space as a greenway that everyone can enjoy. Here are some photos from our visit to the Exploratorium to look at the prototype of some of the ideas everyone came up with.More community meetings to plan and design are schedule. Stay tuned!
On Friday, May 29th from 4-6 PM we will be having a BBQ in Koshland Park to celebrate the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, great partnerships, great kids and great staff members. Please let us know by May 25th if you can attend, especially if you’re bringing groups of kids, so we can plan for food. You’re welcome to bring a dish to pass, salads, fruit, desserts. Please RSVP at info@communitygrows. Hope to see you there!
On Friday night, May 15, 2015 Rosa Parks Elementary School hosted a Talent Show for the CommunityGrows Garden Program. It was a smashing event featuring some amazing talent from students K-5th Grade, and was highlighted with the Con Brio Band headed by our own Ezekiel McCarter, Rosa Parks Assistant Garden Educator. Check out the video here:
There we singers, dancers, athletes, magicians, and piano players, as well as poets and rappers. It was a night to remember. Thanks to Serene Padilla, Rosa Parks Garden Educator, and Ezekiel McCarter, Assistant Garden Educator, as well as many teachers, staff, and CommunityGrows Advisory Board memebers, who made this wonderful event possible!
For more photos see our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday, February 5th CommunityGrows was honored to join other 2015 Kaiser-Permanente-San Francisco Community Benefit Grantees for a social gathering with hospital leaders, physicians, and managers. The grantees in attendance represented three priority health needs identified in the latest Kaiser-Permanente Community Health Needs Assessment: to increase access to high quality health care and services, to insure safe and healthy environments, and to increase healthy eating and active living (HEAL).
One of the highlights of the afternoon was meeting the the members of the Kaiser-Permanente community and Gina Gregory-Burns, MD, Co-Chair of the Community Benefit Advisory Committee, Chief of Diversity at Kaiser-Permanente-San Francisco, and a physician in the Spanish Primary Care Unit. Dr. Gregory-Burns talked about the joy she had reading grantee proposals and learning of the good work we are doing. Standing next to Dr. Gregory-Burns is James Illig, her co-chair and Community Benefit Manager for Kaiser-Permanente San Francisco.
CommunityGrows received a grant to increase access to and consumption of healthy food. We are seeking to reduce health disparities in the Western Addition by providing youth with access to free Seed-to-Mouth classes that increase their exposure to healthy foods and cooking. Offered once a week for two hours, classes take place over 30 weeks during the school year and 6-8 weeks during the summer. Cooking classes emphasize recipes that incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables that come directly from CommunityGrows gardens. Recipes are also chosen together by staff and youth, and reflect the cultural diversity of the students. Lessons about good nutrition and how it relates to physical health are incorporated into each class through games, songs and other teaching tools. Because many youth are cooking for the first time, the curriculum also includes lessons about kitchen safety and basic cooking skills. Occasionally, guest chefs from local restaurants donate their time to teach youth additional skills. At the end of each class youth receive the recipe explored that day, and at the end of the year students receive a cookbook with all recipes cooked during the previous months. These tools encourage children to take the healthy meals cooked and eaten in class and replicate them at home, with their parents and siblings.
On Saturday, December 6, 2014 a great turnout of the community with families and youth made our Wreath and Card Making event an overwhelming success. Our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) engaged everyone arriving, showing them how to make wreaths for the first time. With so many great trinkets and baubles, ribbons, ornaments, and boughs of greenery, the creativity was overflowing.
It was so much fun to hang out with our friends and supporters and enjoy each other’s company. Here are some photos from the day. You can also check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday, November 14th CommunityGrows hosted the Redwood Trust and Sherwood Design Engineers for a workday in Koshland Park.
It was a really fun, laid back event with volunteers from these companies and our BEETS and CommunityGrows staff. We weeded the gardens, harvested cilantro and sun chokes, cleaned along the fence perimeter and the sidewalk, caged a couple of fruit trees to help them grow, pruned berry bushes, moved the compost, and Adam, a volunteer from Redwood Trust, did an amazing job sweeping the stage and sidewalk! Thanks to all of our great volunteers, hard-working interns and community members for helping out on a beautiful Saturday.
On November 7-9, 2014 Adrian Almquist, our CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager, attended the Growing Power Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The theme was Urban and Small Farms Conference: Building a Fair Food Economy to Grow Healthy People. The intent of this national and international conference was to share ideas and inspire others to find ways to create sustainable jobs in their communities and help people live healthier lives. As described on their website, “In 1993, Growing Power was an organization with teens who needed a place to work. Will Allen was a farmer with land. Will designed a program that offered teens an opportunity to work at his store and renovate the greenhouses to grow food for their community. What started as a simple partnership to change the landscape of the north side of Milwaukee has blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems. Since its inception, Growing Power has served as a ”living museum” or “idea factory” for the young, the elderly, farmers, producers, and other professionals ranging from USDA personnel to urban planners. Training areas include the following: acid-digestion, anaerobic digestion for food waste, bio-phyto remediation and soil health, aquaculture closed-loop systems, vermiculture, small and large scale composting, urban agriculture, permaculture, food distribution, marketing, value-added product development, youth education, community engagement, participatory leadership development, and project planning.” Here is Adrian’s synopsis: Will Allen’s organization stands as a prime example of the power and viability of urban agriculture, young farmer training, and the ability for communities to come together to overcome inequities. In was truly inspiring to meet with people from across the country to talk about the future of urban agriculture and renewable energy. In addition to touring their urban farms and greenhouses, I co-facilitated a workshop at the conference which highlighted youth farming programs, and spoke about CommunityGrows efforts to bring environmental education, food education, and job readiness skills to our San Francisco youth. I also spoke to our recent inclusion of meditation in our classes and the importance of giving our youth the chance to be in silence, explore their imaginations, and check in with their feelings during the course of their busy days. Across the country people are embracing local and urban food production to solve injustice within the food system and lack of fresh healthy food in their communities. CommunityGrows and Growing Power have been at the forefront of this movement over the last 20 years, training urban youth in the basics of urban food production and healthy eating, and it was amazing to be at a conference where so many people were coming together to celebrate and plan for a healthier, more sustainable, and more just world for all.
On Wednesday night, November 5, 2014, CommunityGrows hosted their first fundraiser at Greens Restaurant in Ft Mason. Photos in this blog and on our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream were taken by Judith Keenan, a long-time CommunityGrows supporter. Thank you Judith!
Our CommunityGrows Advisory Board did a great job recruiting their friends and family to attend and purchase raffle tickets. A crowd of fifty strong, mingled in the back dinning room of Greens tasting delicious wines and chatting up friendships and CommunityGrows.
Delicious food graced the evening for our sit-down dinner. On the menu was:
First Course: Green Gulch lettuce, little gems, and ancho cress with apples, pomegranates, walnuts, goat cheese, and cider vinaigrette.
Entree: Butternut squash and sweet potato gratin with poblano chilies, grilled onions, peppers, cheddar, marjoram, sage, and ancho fromage blanc custard, served with tomatillo sauce, grilled polenta, and broccoli di ciccio with pumpkin seeds.
Dessert: Assorted mini cookies, brownies, and bars (served family-style on platters).
During the course of the dinner guests were treated to a newly released video of CommunityGrows which was Directed by Sophie Constantinou with Executive Producer, Lora Hirchberg. Sophie is the director of CitizenFilms, and Lora is a two-times Academy Awards winner for sound mixing (for the Dark Knight and Inception). Here it is for your enjoyment!
There were many illustrious speakers, including Supervisor London Breed who joined us for dinner and offered her support and kudos to CommunityGrows. Also speaking eloquently for CommunityGrows were Sheryl Davis from Mo’Magic and Ezekiel McCarter, who is on our staff as Garden Assistant at Rosa Parks Elementary School. Ezekiel, who is also a Bay Area musician, talked about his experience going through our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) programs and being inspired to create a song about the garden, which we were privileged to hear.
A highlight of the evening was inspirational speaker, Wendy Johnson, master gardener and author of Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. She spoke of the three gifts: the gift of food, the gift of teaching and the gift of no fear. She related this to the passion of CommunityGrows to cultivate healthy youth by growing and eating nutritious food. The gift of teaching was exemplified by the work CommunityGrows does in environmental education. The gift of no fear is manifest in CommunityGrows tenacity to not be afraid of hard work, to speak for environmental and food justice, and to face challenges that arise with compassion.
CommunityGrows wants to thank all the sponsors who supported this fundraiser, including Bi-Rite Businesses, San Francisco Public Works, PG&E, and Greens Restaurant. Thank you to our Advisory Board and CommunityGrows staff for recruiting raffle items and making the dinner a success. Finally thank you to all the attendees, including the Koshland Family, Kaiser-Permanente, the Buchanan YMCA, and many others. Thank you also to everyone who purchased raffle tickets.
As you can see, it was a fun and successful night. A great time had by all! Thank you again!
For more great photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.