On September 29, 2017 volunteers from Bain and Co and Gateway High School joined CommunityGrows for a workday in Koshland Garden. Melissa Tang, our new CommunityGrows Director of Programs, working with Adrian Almquist, Garden Programs Manager, led the day and assigned tasks. These great crews turned the compost, prepped beds in the lower garden, weeded, moved concrete blocks, pruned ivy near the stage and above the shed, chopped down fennel, touched up the mural, aerated roots on trees, gleaned the nasturtiums, weeded grass out of the blackberries, sweep steps and the stage, weeded along outer edge of garden, organized the gloves, checked tool shed, and watered.
During the workday we had a visit from the new Recreation and Park Department’s Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens Program Manager, Mei Ling Hui.She was able to identify one of the mysteries of the garden: a citrus tree that seemed to grow gigantic limes. It turned out that this was a grapefruit tree, and Mei Ling suggested we prune it back and give it lots of nitrogen. We are very excited to discover the identity of this gem in our orchard.
Both Bain & Company and Gateway High School worked very well together, accomplishing so many tasks to get our garden in shape for the fall environmental education classes. Thank you so much for your great work! For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Wednesday August 16, 2017 a large group of Morgan Stanley volunteers came out to help us get Koshland Garden in good shape for the upcoming school year. After welcomes and introductions by the CommunityGrows staff, Melissa Tang, Director of Programs led everyone on a tour of the garden. The memorial planting garden was under renovation and expansion thanks to a Community Challenge grant from the City of San Francisco.Walking through the rows of beds volunteers learned about and tasted various plants that were growing. In the fruit orchard they got to see apples, lemons, prunes, persimmons, raspberries, blackberries and figs growing for fall harvest. Then volunteers were assigned different tasks that keep them busy for the afternoon. They got to clean up the memorial circle, prune ivy, rake paths, sweep stairs, weed berry bushes and community beds, as well as sweep the stage, turn over the compost and prune along the fence line. When all this was done, everyone enjoyed watering. At the end of the day the group reconvened to talk about their experiences and what they enjoyed and learned from their visit. Thank you so much Morgan Stanley for providing this volunteer opportunity for us. We are extremely grateful for your support and hard work! For more photos, please check out our Flickr Photostream here. Thank you again!
Koshland Garden got a spiffing up on Saturday, June 10, 2017 with the help of a great crew from Starbucks. Thanks to CommunityGrows Advisory Board member Jaromy Schmidt, who manages a Starbucks stores in San Francisco, many of his team came out to support us and brought delicious coffee. Adrian Almquist, Garden Programs Manager led the morning, and got people weeding the pathways, composting, and pruning back blackberries, ivy and mock orange plants.Long time neighborhood volunteer Richard Johnson trimmed the ivy along the ramp of the peace wall. CommunityGrows ED joined the day to meet and greet, take photos and organize the garden gloves, finding 23 lonely right handers! At 1:00 PM some of the community gardeners came by to check out the upcoming plans for garden renovations. A couple new gardeners were thrilled to finally get a plot and get off the three year wait list. Thank you everyone for a great day. The garden looks terrific!
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!
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.
A group of great volunteers from the San Francisco office of Bain & Company spent Friday, September 16, 21016 working with CommunityGrows. We met at the African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC) garden, where CommunityGrows’ headquarters is located. To start the day, Kelly ErnstFriedman, CG Deputy Director, Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager, and BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) intern Ivan introduced the group to the history and current programs of CommunityGrows. Board members Jaromy Schmidt and Sarah Penny shared how and why they chose to get involved with CommunityGrows. Then the team got to work. We started with some pruning, weeding, and planting in the public beds located outside of the AAACC in Buchanan Mall. At lunch time, we walked a few blocks over to Koshland Park on Page and Buchanan Streets. Over lunch, Ivan shared some of his personal experience with the BEETS program with the participants. Then we got back to work. The volunteers spent the afternoon tackling a variety of tasks in the Koshland Park Community Learning Garden, including flipping compost, pruning raspberries, painting over graffiti on the storage shed, and of course lots of weeding and watering!It was a great day to celebrate all the good work we do at CommunityGrows and share it with Bain & Company. Thank you for volunteering! You guys are awesome!For more photos, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.