On Saturday, November 22, 2014 the Western Addition Beacon Center at John Muir Elementary School hosted the 11th Annual Giving Voice to the Season Thanksgiving Luncheon. CommunityGrows staff Adrian Almquist and Barbara Wenger joined three of our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) to volunteer at the event. Other volunteers included teens from Mo’Magic, the First Baptist Church, the Art Institute of California-ABK Honors Society and John Muir Parent Leadership Group and staff.
Everyone got full plates of delicious turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, greens, and macaroni and cheese, followed by chocolate cake and cookies.
During the lunch entertainment included Ms. Somoan, Minister Alexis Carr and April Carr, Sam Jackson and Ryan Marchand,and wonderful first through fourth grade students of Handful Players, as well as SGI-USA Golden Gate Chorus, Kori Jones, and Western Addition Beacon Center Lil Devs and Modern Jazz.
Check out more photos from the day at our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream.
On Monday, October 13, 2014 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) when across the Bay to visit the Treasure Island Job Corp Farm.
This urban farm was designed in conjunction with the Treasure Island Job Corps to support their culinary arts program. This design was a collaborative design with Architecture for Humanity and Willow Rosenthal, founder of City Slicker Farms. The farm was, and continues to be constructed entirely by students who are led by a master builder. This hands-on instruction allowed students to learn and practice construction techniques by working on the various structures on the Farm. The produce harvested from the farm is used mostly for the Job Corps culinary program.
The farm boasts a greenhouse, chickens, an outdoor kitchen, a state-of-the-art irrigation system, orchards, and solar panels. A constructed corner farm stand sells the excess fresh produce.
The Treasure Island Job Corps Center is a federally funded program has been on the island for 17 years and provides live-in training to low-income teenagers and young adults in a number of vocations, ranging from carpentry to the culinary industry. Job Corps is a nationwide program (there are 125 centers) that has been around since 1976 and serves 50,000 students – 600 of them attend on Treasure Island.
About a third of the Bay Area participants are enrolled in either the basic or advanced cooking programs at the center, where they learn nearly every aspect of running a kitchen – from cooking to stocking the pantry. Five years ago the school received a $180,000 grant to put in a 1-acre farm – it’s called the Michelle Obama Green Acre – so students could get experience growing their own food and tapping into the growing farm-to-table restaurant movement.
Our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) helped out on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at the Rosa Parks Elementary School’s Annual BBQ. CommunityGrows staff Serena Padilla, Garden Educator, and Miya Yung, BEETS Program Assistant supported the BEETS throughout the day.
The event was to raise funding for the PTA and the Green Team which supports CommunityGrows environmental education teachers for k-5 students. There were ring tosses, hockey maneuvering, water shooting of ping-pong balls and knocking down tin-can pyramids. Youth were also able to make bird seed triangles to hang on their trees at home. Despite the heat, and very successful day!
On Saturday, September 27, 2014 the Fall cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) spent a few hour renovating and revitalizing the African American Arts and Culture Complex garden on the border of their parking lot. A beautiful day to clean up debris and plant many beautiful drought resistant flowers. Such a great group of teens doing a beautiful job. Good work all!
for more photos see our Flickr photostream here.
On Saturday, September 20, 2014 CommunityGrows staff Adrian Almquist, Serena Padilla, Miya Yung, Kelly ErnstFriedman and Barbara Wenger, were joined by our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens), and another great group of youth from International High School for a workday in Koshland Garden. A number of terrific community volunteers joined us as well. We were also honored to have two CommunityGrows Advisory Board members, Barb Fujimoto and Casey Johnson stop by and pitch in.
We weeded, laid straw mulch, planted and watered the garden. It was an amazing transformation thanks to over 25 youth and others participating. Towards the end of the event our good friend Wendy Johnson, a master gardener from Green Gulch Farm and resident garden teacher at the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden, brought us plants and a tree to grace the garden. One plant was a Hopi Black Dye Sunflower. The seeds of the plant are used by Native Americans for dyeing wool and basketry. The plant imparts a color-fast light purple. Heirloom variety from Hopi Land, an oil, food, and dye plant that has its roots in ancient prehistory. One of the first domesticated plants, archaeological evidence points to the middle archaic period for the first human harboring of sunflower. Native americans ground the seeds and boiled, then skimmed the oil. In native culture, vegetable oil is considered one of the most precious of substances. Also, the seeds are very good for eating, and the sprouts are potently delicious and healing to digestive woes.
Wendy works at the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden in Marin, and talked about the unusual plants grown there. She has also been fortunate to have many Native American students who are learning about their culture and the land. After Wendy told us about the farm and the plants, she invited everyone up this fall to experience the farm.
While she was talking a Cooper’s Hawk swooped down on our circle and flew up to a redwood tree nearby. The hawk has been a resident in our neighborhood for a few years. It is always magnificent to see him! A wonderful day with many memorable experiences.
For many more photos see our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday, September 18, 2014 the fall cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) began. The new group consists of six returning BEETS: Angie Lemus, Claudia Williams, Ivan Galdamez, Jahnae Stanford, Kenya Mack and Kyle Patterson. New BEETS are Anthony Hernandez, Aylin Soria, Chrislyn Earle, Misael Perez, Thnah (Jimmy) Tang and Vicente Rivera. Miya Yung, our new Americorp intern, joined the group and will be specifically helping Melissa Tang the BEETS Program Manager this year. Welcome everyone!
They met in our 4th floor CommunityGrows office of John Muir Elementary School and filled out paper work and saw a movie about Food Justice. Then they went down the street to Koshland Garden to get oriented to their home base for the next four months. Six of the returning BEETS lead a tour of the garden, the memorial garden, herb garden and orchard. Also they talked about garden rules, checked out the tool shed and got a lesson in composting. After the tour there was an introduction from Barbara Wenger, Executive Director and Kelly ErnstFriedman, Director of Programs. The returning youth then led the other in some ice-breaker games. A great group with lots of adventures in store.
CommunityGrows is recruiting twelve youth ages 15-19 years old to join our Fall BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) Program, starting September 18th and running through December 11, 2014.
These youth gain experience developing job skills, learning garden maintenance and attending field trips throughout the Bay Area. Each intern earns approximately $800, depending on hours worked.
For more information see the flyer and application, which can both be downloaded below:
Fall 2014 Beets Flyer by Barbara Wenger
Beets Internship Application Fall 2014 by Barbara Wenger
On Wednesday, July 23, 2014 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) had a wonderful visit to Bi-Rite Grocery on 18th Street. This is our second visit to Bi-Rite for the BEETS, who went last year with a different cohort (see blog post from that event here).
It was a new group of teens and everything was very eye-opening and tasty. Shakirah Simley, the Bi-Rite communication/outreach coordinator, who happens to be on CommunityGrows Advisory Board, led the tour of the site. She introduced the BEETS to all the team leaders who have specialties in the market.
They met Matt one of the buyers from the Produce Department and learned about the local, farm-direct seasonal bounty from many of California’s best farmers. We got to taste some of the summer fruits that were on display-umm umm delicous! The BEETS also met Chili Montes, head of the Sustainable Meat, Poultry and Seafood Department. Chili talked about the meats and seafood that Bi-Rite buys. He said Bi-Rite offers a bountiful assortment of meat from pasture raised, grass fed, and humanely treated animals. Bi-Rite adheres to strict guidelines when choosing which meat, poultry and fish to sell, and they make sure that it comes into the store fresh and flavorful.
The BEETS also met Naomi Berghoef who works in the grocery section. She talked about how she and her co-workers taste much of the items that are put in the store for quality and integrity. We tasted coconut chips that were delicious as well as freshly made Gazpacho soup from the deli. A Cheesemonger named Teesa talked about the array of cheeses from California and beyond, and offered us samples of Buffalo mozzarella cheese, made from the milk of the domestic Italian water buffalo.
One of the many highlights of the day was heading across the street to the Bi-Rite creamery and meeting Ann who heads up the Creamery and Oliver who works with the bakery. One bakery employee, Frances Bradley, who also is a volunteer with our CommunityGrows cooking program, made delicious peach pie for everyone in our BEETS entourage. We also had a rare glimpse into the ice-cream making process, and got to try two flavors, a delicious raspberry lemon sorbet and a decadent fluffy white ice cream that had the amazing hint of basil. What a treat!
After our tour, we reassembled at 18 Reasons, Bi-Rite’s community education center, next door to the Creamery. Shakirah talked with the teens about their tour and asked them questions. The teens competed for gift cards by naming three stone fruits, explaining what product placement was, describing the difference between fresh and aged cheese and naming three products that are sold at the creamery.
Everyone joined the lucky winners to purchase sandwiches and lunch items from the deli. A delicious and memorable day. Thank you Shakirah and Bi-Rite family! For more photos from the day, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday, July 17, 2014, the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) got together at the upper garden of Rosa Parks Elementary School to practice their K-5th grade lesson plans for water conservation. The BEETS learn about environmental education topics and help teach with our staff the younger youth in our CommunityGrows programs. The BEETS were allow, for a brief time, to act like crazy third graders, and laughter ensued. Check out our stars as Amanda Jack gives her water lesson plan to her charges!
Have you ever wondered what happens to the dirty water from your shower, laundry and toilet after it goes down the drain? What about the runoff from lawns and gardens, and rainwater and car washing? On Friday, July 18, 2014 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) found out on a trip to the Southeast Water Treatment Plant in the Bayview district of San Francisco.
San Francisco is the only coastal city in California with a combined sewer system that collects and treats both wastewater and stormwater in the same network of pipes. That means the rain that runs off your roofs and street gets treated at the three plants in San Francisco just like the wastewater that goes down your drain every time you flush the toilet, take a shower, brush your teeth, do your laundry, or wash the dishes. Cleaning stormwater is just as important as cleaning wastewater because of the street pollutants that wash into the sewer system Imagine all the motor oil, pesticides, metals, and other street litter that you see on the street. They all go into the sewer system when it rains.
Together San Francisco’s 1,000 mile-long combined sewer system and three treatment facilities help reduce pollution in the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. However, you still need to be careful about products that you dump down the drain or use in your garden. These same harsh chemicals can still possibly harm the environment and your family’s health.
Our BEETS walked through acres of transport/storage facilities, sewers, and five major pump stations. This plant is the largest and oldest wastewater facility, responsible for treating nearly 80% of the City’s flow. It treats 57 million gallons per day (MGD) of wastewater and handles 160 wet tons of biosolids each day. We got to meet the scientists who analysis the water and the workers who manage the tanks and pipe line system. A interesting day with great exercise walking!