On February 20, 2016, the Spring cohort of the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) headed across the Bay to meet with cooperative workers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and activists to learn more about what community members are doing to bring healthy food to others.
Six years ago the Food Cooperative, which is owned and run together by its members, was born out of a desire to provide healthy, local and natural products to West Oakland, an area with few grocery stores and a lot of corner convenience and liquor stores. The Food Co-op is a project of the Mandela Marketplace, a a non-profit organization that works in partnership with local residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to improve health, create wealth, and build assets through cooperative food enterprises in low income communities.The BEETS learned from the co-owner/workers, about how they buy produce and products from local farms and businesses. They also talked about the difference between organic and pesticide free produce (Some smaller farmers may not be able to afford to be certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture, even if they use organic farming practices. So those who don’t use pesticides but haven’t been officially certified organic will be labeled “pesticide free”)
After the market, the BEETS headed to Bottoms Up Community Garden located on the corner of Peralta and 8th St. On most morning, the Garden also serves as a pop-up breakfast spot, serving food from an outdoor kitchen just steps from the chicken coop. After a hearty breakfast of super-local eggs homemade pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches with greens from the garden, James and Sarah split up the BEETS between three different gardens they steward in the neighborhood. Fellowship Farmlette was in a lot next to a church and the BEETS moved dirt to create a raised bed. At Piggyback Farm, which was also home to a pig and two goats, the BEETS weeded and harvested greens. In the Bottoms Up Garden, they planted flowers. The BEETS dug a huge raised bed and were very proud of their work.
After this hard work, they returned to Bottom’s Up Garden where Matt McCue from Shooting Star CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) taught a workshop on soil testing.
The BEETs learned how to gather soil for testing, mix it with the correct chemicals in order to evaluate the overall nutrient health of the soil. They learned how elements like nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and pH can effect everything from the strength of stalk to how much a plant will flower. The BEETS will be using the valuable information they learned by conducting soil tests in many of the CommuntyGrows gardens this Spring. Here is a photo of two of our CommunityGrows staff, Crystal Jones and Cha’Shay Woldridge at the Oakland gardens.
On Tuesday, February 2, 2016 our Spring BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) began their training at John Muir Elementary School and the Koshland Park Community Learning Garden. In the group were four “returners”: Mia Manalo, Jennifer Nazara, Charome Thomas and Adrian Valencia. Joining them are Ronnie Allen, Gene Chu, Gonzalo Duque, Alejandro Fernandez, Toddiana Jasper, Talia Matau, Keyonce Mitchell, Linda Saenzpardo and Barry Tan. After an opening circle and welcome introduction at the John Muir CommunityGrows’s office, and a tour of the school the group walked a block away to Koshland Garden. After an icebreaker game to remember names, Barbara Wenger, Director, talked about the history of Koshland Park and the programs at CommunityGrows. She also brought delicious cupcakes for everyone in honor of Adrian Almquist’s birthday. Adrian is the caretaker of Koshland Park’s Learning Garden, and he is also our CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager for all our garden sites. At the end of the day returning BEETS lead others on a tour of the garden.
On Saturday, November 7th Global Gourmet volunteers joined our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) and other volunteers for a workday in Koshland Garden. Global Gourmet Catering provides inspired menus with restaurant caliber cuisine, impeccable service and trend-setting design. Focused on organic and local ingredients, they are proud to be the first Bay Area Green Business certified full-service catering company in Northern California. We were honored to host them and glad to have their support!The large crew of volunteers, led by Adrian Almquist, our CommunityGrows Gardens Manager, kept busy for three hours weeding, mulching, planting, and picking up trash. When the morning was finished, the garden shone like a jewel. Thank you everyone for you great work. For more photos check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday afternoon, October 22, 2015 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) joined partners CitizenFilm, GreenStreets and the Exploratorium to plant hearty succulents and drought-resisted natives along Buchanan Mall. This effort is a reactivation of an area once blighted by crime and neglect. Walking through the area, which covers Buchanan Street between Turk and Grove, it was wonderful to see the progress that has been done so far. There will be a grand opening celebration on Saturday November 7th from 12-3 PM.
Clifton from the neighborhood joined the BEETS in their plantings. It is wonder be involved in helping to transform this area, close to our CommunityGrows office at the African American Arts and Culture Complex. For more photos from the day, visit our Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday, October 8th the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) made a visit to New Liberation Garden to learn about medicinal plants. They were joined by USF volunteer Isabella Neterval and community leader Majeid Crawford who offered a discussion on the history of the neighborhood, how the Fillmore became known as Harlem of the West, redevelopment and eminent domain in urban renewal.The youth harvested some Aloe vera, which is a succulent plant species. The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD. The plant has been shown in studies to help heal minor wounds eight days faster than standard dressing, not to mention it’s an antibacterial and contains vitamins and minerals that can ease eczema and psoriasis flare-ups. The guys in the group had mixed reactions when rubbing the juice into their skin.Jay Jordan, Garden Educator, brought along some ginger-stalks and roots harvested at Rosa Parks Elementary School. There are many health benefits of ginger, which protects against Alzheimer’s disease, relieves tired muscles, improves circulation and much more. There was also peppermint to share. Peppermint tea is considered a carminative, meaning that it helps to move gas through the body as it accumulates, rather than causing bloating, cramping, and stomach discomfort. The tea also stimulates bile flow to increase the rate and efficiency of digestion and promote healthy bowel movements. It is a stress and sinus reliever and helps with weight loss and skin-clearing.
It was very soothing to have tea in the cool afternoon at the end of class. For more photos from the afternoon, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
The CommunityGrows Fall BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) spent Thursday October 1, 2015 working with Green Streets, Citizen Film and other partners to paint troughs which will hold plantings along Buchanan Mall in San Francisco. This project is part of a Buchanan Mall Activation Project which has brought together many neighborhood elders, youth and adults since March to discuss design and stewardship of the Mall. The Exploratorium, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, and the Trust for Public Land are also partners working with the community to redesign this under-utilized open space between seven public housing communities. The site will include planter boxes, memorial markers, youth-designed signs, seating, lighting, installations designed to inspire inquiry, and audio boxes with local history stories from African-Americans in the community. The Exploratorium translated the community’s design ideas into Activation elements and have begun installing them throughout the five blocks of the Mall. Completion should happen by the end of October. The Activation elements will be at Buchanan Mall for at least 12 months, after which the partners and community will discuss the appropriate next steps. The Trust for Public Land, with generous support from private donors, is the lead funder and project manager for the Activation. A Ribbon Cutting event is scheduled for Saturday, November 7th at 12 noon.
For more photos from the day, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday, August 4, 2015 twelve teens from our CommunityGrows BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) program had a graduation ceremony at Hayes Valley Apartments Community Room. Teens Adrian Castano-Romero, Vinh Houng, Sola Yamamoto, Meena Khan, Caelan Chen, Carlos Cruz, Amanda Jack, Charome Thomas, Monique Adams, Venyse Sims, Greshell Mendoza and Ivan Galdamez were awarded certificates of completion, along with other gifts. Friends, family and Advisory Board member Jennie Carpenter joined us for the celebration.
There was a slide show of all the events they partook in this summer, including working in various garden sites and summer classes, going on a camping trip in the Presidio, visiting Green Gulch Farm, studying water conservation, doing a Food Justice Youth Summit at Pie Ranch, working tables at Hayward RecConnect Carnival and National Night Out, doing workdays—including one with Literacy for Environmental Justice and Girls 2000, and participating in the Mo’Magic mentoring series. Thank you BEETS for doing such a fine job this summer with CommunityGrows, under the amazing leadership of Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager.
On Tuesday, August 4, 2015 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) worked a table at National Night Out at Ella Hill Hutch on the Buchanan Mall. It was a sunny afternoon that brought out lots of neighbors, community organizations and City departments to celebrate the commitment we all have to improving our community. The event is meant to increase awareness about police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other anti-crime efforts.
Our BEETS displayed their water conservation boards and activities—engaging participates to learn more about these topics. Participants were then awarded with watermelons slices and other fun items to show their support of the environment. District 5 Supervisor, London Breed and Mayor Ed Yee came by to applaud the teens for their great work in the community. For more photos check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday, July 25, 2015 the CommunityGrows BEETS(Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) hosted a workday in Koshland Park and Garden. Two other teen groups from the BayView joined them, Literacy for Environmental Justice and Girls 2000. After a warm-up getting to know you activity, our BEETS let a tour through the garden, pointing out the memorial planting area, the herb garden and orchard. Then the teens broke up into groups through out the park and garden to plant natives, paint signs, do pruning, weeding of the paths and beds, sweep the stage area and collect trash. We harvested beets, carrots, potatoes and rose geranium. Recreation and Park Gardener, Freddie Ealom worked with 8-10 youth moving a ton of wood chips to the upper park area. LEJ teens, under the leadership of Anthony Khalil, and Girls 2000, under Brandi Mack’s leadership added a great culture exchange of youth environmentalist. Sharing knowledge among groups was awe inspiring. After a great lunch with macaroni and cheese, everyone made a commitment to come together again soon.
Thank you for an very productive and enlightening day.For more photos see our Flickr Photostream here.
On Tuesday, July 14, 201, thanks to a grant from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) hosted the Western Addition Beacon youth for an afternoon of Water Conservation Fun! Over 100 youth were given a water conservation name badges that stickers were added to as they went through six different stations through out Koshland Park and Garden. The stations were designed by the BEETS to challenge the participating youth with information about conserving water-offering great tips and information along the way. The first station, run by Vinh Hoang and Charome Thomas, asked the youth about conserving water, especially while brushing your teeth and even watering your plants. At the second station, Meena Khan talked about the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and transpiration. The youth got to build a necklace with beads representing the four stages. At station three, run by Carlos Cruz and Gresell Mendoza, youth got to transplant succulents to take home. Station four with Monique Adams and Caelan Chen informed the youth about where our water comes from (Hetch Hechy Reservoir) and how it takes many steps to get to us. They also talked about the weight of water and everyone got to carry water balloons down steps and place them in buckets. At the fifth station, Adrian Castano-Romero and Ivan Gladamez did a jeopardy quiz in the basketball court. Right answers gave the youth a few shots at the basket. In the sixth and final station, Venyse Sims and Sola Yamamoto talked about water conservation at home. Everyone got to write what they learned on a paper-drop of water.
After all the youth went through each station, they were treated to a BBQ with hotdogs, chips, popcorn and watermelon. A great day and everyone had a lot of fun learning about conserving water! For many more photos from the day, see our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.