On Friday May 12, 2017 the afternoon garden program at Ella Hill Hutch got into full swing. Led by CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager Adrian Almquist, the youth read stories and played some games about fruits and vegetables. Then out to the garden to water and check out how things were growing. Visitors from the Episcopal Impact Fund enjoyed the class with CommunityGrows Deputy Director Kelly ErnstFriedman. As part of their site visit, they also walked through the Buchanan Mall and over to Rosa Parks Elementary to check out the gardens and chickens there. A beautiful afternoon to see what was going on at CommunityGrows.
On Thursday, May 11, 2017 Koshland Garden was buzzing with Ms. Martin’s first graders from John Muir Elementary School. CommunityGrows Garden Programs Supervisor Paul Bergkamp led them on a lesson about spring, flowers and pollinators. After their discussion, they went off through the garden with paper and pens to draw flowers. It was an opportunity to create gifts for Mother’s Day the upcoming Sunday. Back in the circle the students shared their drawings and learned about the stages of the bees life and how important bees are to make flowers, fruits and vegetables grow.
For more photos from the day, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream.
On Friday April 21, 2017 the kindergarten class of Rosa Parks Elementary enjoyed a day in the upper garden with CommunityGrows Garden Educator Jay Jordan. Jay has a way of getting everyone engaged in physical activity and working in the garden. He began the lesson by talking about Spring and planting seeds. In their walk through the garden they saw that the potato plants were still green which meant the potatoes were still growing underground. They talked about the soil and that it gets tired and needs to be taken care of. Jay led them on a chant: “fava beans are medicine for sick and tired soil”. Jay talked about saving corn and potatoes to plan for the next harvest.The students picked weeds and then got to plant pumpkin seeds along the edge of the garden. All throughout the lesson Jay made it fun and engaging, especially with exercises praising the earth and thanking the sun, rain, wind, and soil. “Circle of Life, thank you earth, Ashay!” Ashay meaning “Be with us,” inviting and thanking ancestors for joining us in the celebration of the earth. The last half of the class everyone got to water the garden. It seemed like the perfect day to understand the beauty of what we do at CommunityGrows-growing children in the garden! For more photos from the day, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream.
Steve Herraiz (Mr. Steve) had his class of enthusiastic kindergartners at John Muir Elementary School, walk down to the Koshland Park Community Learning Garden for their morning lesson on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager Adrian Almquist was excited for the day to talk about water and where it comes from. (Hetch Hetchy! Thanks SF PUC!)“Where does our drinking water come from?” “From the ocean!” “What does ocean water taste like?” “Why can’t we drink salt water?” “What is Hetch Hetchy?” “How does it get here?” “What happens to water if we leave it in a glass for a long time?” “Why is water good for you and the plants?” “What happens to water when we water the plants?” All these questions captivated the students until it was time to divvy out water cans. Kelly Bohan, a CommunityGrows volunteer, filled everyone’s buckets as they lined up. Then off through the garden to gently water plants and bushes. A great day to be outside and care for the earth. Thank you Mr. Steve! For more photos from the class, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
Ms. Erin Miranda’s first grade class had a special day of thanks for the Rosa Parks Garden on Monday, April 11, 2016. It was their last class of the season and they did a labyrinth walk through the beds of spinach, lettuce and chard that they planted thanking the earth for growing and teaching them. CommunityGrows Garden Educator Jay Jordan led them through exercises of stretching–praising the sun and teaching them kindness to the earth. They then recited the eleven practices for an Honorable Harvest:
1. Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so you can take care of them.
2. Introduce yourself; let the plants know who you are.
3. Ask permission before taking. Listen to the answer.
4. Never take the first. Never take the last.
5. Take only what you need and take only what is given.
6. Never take more than half, leave plenty for others.
7. Harvest in a way that is safe for every one.
10. Give thanks for what you have been given.
11. Give a gift in reciprocity for what you have taken.
The last part of the class everyone wrote down ways the garden takes care of us, how we can take care of the garden, why it is important to share, and why is it important to give thanks. Everyone also thanked volunteer Laura Stroud for helping out in all their classes.
On March 8, 2016, CommunityGrows staff Adrian Almquist, Garden Programs Manager, and Crystal Jones, Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Coordinator had lunch with Alice Waters and Will Allen at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, CA.
Here is Crystal’s report:
“There are very rare opportunities where one gets to gather among a couple of their heroes, in a room (or in this case a garden) full of people of like-minds; coming together solely for the sake of encouragement to further the work that they are doing, and to soak up wisdom from those represented. Gathering together at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkley this February was just that. Among the organizations represented (included but not limited to), were CommunityGrows, Education Outside, City Slicker Farms, Growing Power, and Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco. We all were taken on a little tour of the ESY Berkeley gardens, given a short history of the project and had the chance to hear about the philosophy of the Edible Schoolyard from none other than Alice Waters (author, chef, activist, restaurateur, and brains behind Chez Panisse) – the woman who started it all. Alice then introduced us to our guest of honor that afternoon, Will Allen (farmer, food justice advocate, pioneer of urban agriculture, and founder of Growing Power). After the tour we all gathered around one big table, full of introductions and conversations, where we enjoyed a beautiful lunch, outfitted with some of the bounty of ESY harvests. The major question we address during this gathering, was “How do we not only continue the good work that we are doing, and do more of it?”
By forming strong and meaningful partnerships with one another.
In the spirit of complete community and a philosophy that states I’m not healthy if you’re not healthy and none of us can exist and thrive without the other.
“I used to think I was in charge in the kitchen, and now I know that is not the case – the farmer is in charge of the kitchen.” – Alice Waters”
ESY Willie Mays was the first after school program in the country to become an affiliate of the founding project and it is actually considered one of their six founding programs (the only other official ESY in Northern California).
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 CommunityGrows started teaching classes at Alemany Farm thanks to a grant from Aetna Foundation Local Roots Program. Judy Jue and David Banks brought their youth from Vision Academy to tour the farm. They were able to taste mint and sample nectar from pineapple sage flowers, smell geraniums and rosemary. Adrian Almquist, CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager talked about bees, and help the youth identify many plants and flowers. At the end of the class they were all able to harvest lettuce and take it home.
We’re so excited to have expanded our programming into the Outer Mission/Excelsior ! Since the start of this year, Adrian has been meeting with members of theThe Friends of Alemany Farm, Rec and Park representatives and community members to build a strong, community-based garden and cooking program based at the Farm. We’re excited to watch it grow!
On February 29, 2016 Tierra Morgan, assistant with the after-school Rosa Parks ExCEL group from the Buchanan YMCA, brought her youth to Rosa Parks Garden for their weekly after-school garden class. CommunityGrows Assistant Garden Educator Cha’Shay Woldridge started the class by talking about the stages of development from seed to flower, and pollination. Two of our Spring BEETS, Adrian Valencia and Keyonce Mitchell, helped with the class and read parts of the story What is Pollination? by Bobbie Kalman.
Then the class moved to a trough in the garden and prepared it for seedlings. They dug out all the weeds, added rich composted soil, and buried the seeds. Some of the youth also made seedling soil blocks, reading them for planting. Others filled watering cans and watered the plants in the garden. All sorts of beautiful flowers were planted. Now we have to wait and see what will spring up!
For more photos check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Wednesday, February 17, 2016 Mr. Tamsky’s 4th grade bi-lingual Spanish class at John Muir Elementary School came to Koshland Park for their afternoon lesson. Adrian Almquist, CommunityGrows’ Garden Programs Manager began to cover two difficult lessons—tackling photosynthesis and learning how to make origami cranes.
In an effort to understand photosynthesis, Adrian reminded the youth that photosynthesis is how plants eat and make their own food. Since the plants don’t have to move around to find food and they stay in one place, plants can make their food as long as they have three things. The three things are Carbon Dioxide, Water, and Light. Here’s what photosynthesis looks like: Carbon Dioxide + Water + Light —-> Sugar + Oxygen. An easy way to remember this is Cows Eat Wet Grass Outside…so CO2 + Energy + water –> Glucose + Oxygen.
Here’s how it works: Plants breathe, just like us. They even have little openings that can look like mouths, but they are too small for us to see without a microscope. When we breathe in, we want to breath in oxygen. Plants want to breathe in Carbon Dioxide. Plants also drink. This is why you need to water plants or they will die. They use their roots to suck water up into their bodies, and their little mouths to breath in the carbon dioxide. Once they have both of these things, all they need is light. Leaves are made up of a bunch of tiny cells, where this happens. Inside the cells are tiny little things called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts are what makes leaves green, and they are also what takes the carbon dioxide, the water, and the light, and turns them into sugar and oxygen. The sugar is then used by the plants for food, and the oxygen is breathed out into the atmosphere. This process as a whole is “photosynthesis.”. Here is a great website that explains this for kids. If doing a short lesson on photosynthesis was not challenging enough, everyone also got a chance to make origami cranes. Adrian was very patient in leading the students through the various steps. It was impressive to see all of them working hard and trying to pay attention. Miraculously, by the end of class, all had finished their cranes and proudly displayed them as they left the garden. Here is a demonstration of how to make an origami crane.
Thanks to a grant from the Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF), CommunityGrows is honored to be working at the Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point at the Willie Mays Clubhouse. We started teaching garden classes on September 3rd once a week, and soon we hope to be cooking there with produce from the garden.
The Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point, established in 2008, is a 2000 square-foot organic teaching garden and kitchen program and the first after-school program in the country to become a founding affiliate of The Edible Schoolyard Project, which started in Berkeley by Alice Waters.
Working with the Willie Mays Clubhouse we hope to involve the youth in all aspects of tending the garden – along with preparing, serving and eating the food – as a way to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and develop lifelong healthy eating habits. The goal of the Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point is to be the healthiest place for youth in San Francisco!
The Willie Mays Clubhouse, located in Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP), is where alcohol, tobacco and junk food are the most commonly sold products. Plus, only 5% of the food sold is fresh produce. As a result, BVHP residents are hospitalized more than residents of other neighborhoods for almost every disease, including diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.
Adrian Almquist, our CommunityGrows Gardens Program Manager, has been working with the youth to harvested lots of peppers and tomatoes, which youth have been taking home. They have also been harvesting Gravenstein apples from a garden tree and serving slices for snack. Youth planted sunflowers, beans, lettuce and carrots together. Lesson have been about life cycles, food webs, and the importance of pollinators with a focus on bees. After the lesson, one 2nd grader told Adrian, “I know now that bees are really important for the environment”.
We look forward to continue working here and supporting Bayview Hunters Point.
Photos for this blog post were taken by Laura Turner, an intern with us for a few days, sponsored by Momenta Photography Workshop-San Francisco. Laura is an undergraduate journalism student at American University in Washington D.C. Her photography website is here. See more of her photos from Willie Mays Clubhouse here.