Please join us for a invigorating workday outside in the Koshland Park and Garden on Saturday, July 25, 2015 from 11-2 PM. Our CommunityGrows staff and the summer BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and employable Teens) will be joined by two other teen groups: Literacy for Environmental Justice and Girls-2000 of the Hunters Point Family. See flyer for more information.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 16-17, the summer cohort of BEETS when over night camping in the Presidio at Rob Hill Campground. In the afternoon they took a hike to the Presidio Nursery, and met with three park leaders, Desmond Murray, Nursery Community Coordinator, and Danielle Jolette and Hillary Kato, full-time interns in the program. These great educators spent the afternoon sharing their knowledge about plants and conservation with the teens. Desmond also let us know that paid internships at the nursery are available to high school and college level students, dates are TBD for the next year and he encouraged BEETS crew members to apply in the future.The Presidio Nursery nurtures not only thousands of plants, but also hundreds of volunteers and youth from throughout the Bay Area. Founded in the spring of 1995, the nursery is a vibrant collaborative effort of three agencies: the Presidio Trust, National Park Service, and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Together they support the nursery’s goal of restoration within the Presidio. In 2012, the nursery grew 120,000 plants—twice its usual number! In addition, the Presidio Nursery grows many trees to support the Presidio reforestation effort, including about 300 Monterey cypress trees each year. The nursery also nurtures native trees such as Coast live oak, Wax myrtle, and California buckeye. The nursery is a lively complex with greenhouses and shade houses filled with plants, an educational garden, the Habitarium where volunteers meet, and a lab for more detailed study. Visitors to the park can stop by to volunteer on certain days or to explore. For those just passing through, there are educational signs as well as staff and interns on site. The BEETS got to do some propagation and planting in the nursery and learned about the care that is taken in gathering and storing the seeds.
They also explored the redwood groves and learned that Sequoias and giant redwoods are often referred to interchangeably, though they are two very different, though equally remarkable, species of tree. Both naturally occurring only in California, these two species share a distinctive cinnamon-colored bark and the proclivity for growing to overwhelming heights. Both also require very specific, though very distinct, climates to survive.Returning to the campsite they had a BBQ and night visit to the cemetery overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. A great adventure to start the summer session with these great teens. Thank you Adrian Almquist and Melissa Tang for leading this event. To see more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday, April 23,2015 our Spring Cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) learned how to make Spring Rolls. BEETS Program Manager, Melissa Tang lead them through the steps after much prepping of ingredients.
Here’s the recipe for your enjoyment:
6 spring roll wrapper (rice paper)
2 cups thin noodles, pre-cooked (vermicelli or rice noodles)
1/2 head lettuce, cut into thin strips
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh herbs (cilantro, basil and mint)
1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
3 carrots, grated
other ingredients, including strips of mangoes, pineapples, jalapeños, etc
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2-1 cup water, til the right consistency
1. Submerge the spring roll wrapper in warm water for 15 seconds or until pliable.
2. Put the wrapper on a dry flat surface and put the noodles and veggies horizontally in the middle
3. Tightly roll the spring roll making sure to tuck in the sides, sealing with a bit of water
4. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a blender and serve with the spring rolls.
On March 24th and April 7, 2015 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) offered up presentations on Food Justice. Working in teams of two, the teens researched and prepared presentations on themes such as farming and agriculture, nutrition and health issues related to access to healthy foods, labor and pesticides, food corporations, and different solutions to approaching food justice.
On March 24th, Clarisse Peterson and Tomicia Blunt talked about nutrition and health issues related to access to healthy foods. They mentioned diabetes rates and heart disease in low-income communities,and how student performance in school is related to healthy access to food. They showed a clip from a movie about fast food describing what is in it, and how fast food is prepared and mass produced. Elilita Geletu and Eric Huang talked about GMO labeling and banning, and pesticide use in farming and agriculture. They talked about small scale vs factory farming and organic vs non-organic fruits and vegetables.
On April 7, at the Rosa Parks Upper Garden Quincy Brooks, Cesar Martinez, Vicente Rivera, Alonza Blunt and Anthony Hernandez talked about labor practices, United Farm Worker activists, Fair Food Programs and justice for food service workers. They also talked about the history of the food industrialization, corporate marketing, and the food processing corporations in the US, including Cargill and Tyson foods, General Mills and Coca Cola.On a whiteboard near one of their presentations was a quote from Pearl Bailey that said, “Hungry people cannot be good at learning or producing anything except perhaps violence.”
We’re now accepting applications for the Summer 2015 BEETS cohort! This summer our focus is on water conservation and teens will learn how to plant and maintain water-wise gardens while also gaining valuable leadership and job skills. The Summer BEETS schedule includes a camping trip in the Presidio, attending the Mo’Magic Workshop Series, and BEETS will also visit Green Gulch Farm in Marin.
The deadline to apply is Friday, May 15th at 5pm. Click on the application and flyers below or email Melissa@communitygrows.org for more information.
On Tuesday, March 31, 2015, four of our Spring BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens), Cesar Martinez, Clarisse Peterson, Elilita Geletu and Vincente Rivera got a private tour of Bi-Rite Grocery on 18th Street in San Francisco. Shakirah Simley, CommunityGrows Advisory Board Chair and Bi-Rite’s Community Outreach Coordinator led the tour.
Two more Advisory Board members, Leah Cerri and Sherry Bijan also attended, as well as CommunityGrows staff Ezekiel McCarter and Melissa Tang.Shakirah spent time talking to the group about the items in the store, how they are locally sourced and selected. Lots of samples were provided by Kelsey Roeder, Community Outreach Assistant, for the group to taste. In fact the participants learned about what makes a good olive oil and egg production, as well as care and selection of meats and fish conservation.
The participants met Rose Owens, Cheese Inventory Manager who talked about the wide variety of cheese Bi-Rite carries, and the effects of the drought on cheese production.
Fergus McGrath, Grocery Department Manager, talked with everyone about sourcing products with wholesome ingredients and being responsible to what the community wants.
The group got to taste a delicious peach jam, made by Shakirah Simley herself, an in-house canning and jamming expert.
A highlight of the morning was going to Bi-Rite Creamery, down the street from the grocery store to learn about what ingredients go into their ice-cream. Everyone got to sample one of their most popular flavors, Salted Caramel. Then a glimpse into the Creamery kitchen where employee Willy was making pastry cream for Banana Cream Pie!At the end of the morning the youth came together at the 18 Reasons space to have a discussion of what they learned on the tour. They had taken notes throughout the tour and had many insights and questions for Shakirah. The morning was very informative and delicious. Thank you Bi-Rite staff for a wonderful experience! For more photos from the day, see our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday, March 15, 2015 many of the Spring BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) turned out to care for Koshland Park and Garden. The first part of the day the teens worked with Recreation and Park Head Gardener, Freddie Ealom, to clear an area of the park of invasive grasses.
At the start of the workday, a crowd of 20+ walking enthusiasts came through the garden and got a presentation about the park by Barbara Wenger, Executive Director of CommunityGrows.
Later, the BEETS worked in the garden pruning ivy, weeding paths, planting natives, pruning, mulching and composting. In an already beautiful park and garden, the BEETS made it shine even brighter. Thank you for a great workday!
For more photos view our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Thursday, March 12, 2015 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) toured the Maxine Hall Health Center in the heart of the Western Addition.
They were greeted by Touré Clark, the Coordinator for Interns and Volunteers at the Center. His lively and engaging personality held the teens’ attention for the entire afternoon.
The BEETS were able to meet Catherine James, M.D., Medical Director and Family Physician of the Maxine Hall Health Center, and to see a presentation of slides concerning health and statistics specific to the Western Addition population.
The BEETS learned that African Americans have the highest rates of Ischemic and hypertensive heart diseases, lung cancer, HIV/AIDS and drug overdose than other ethnicities in the San Francisco, and the highest rates of obesity. African Americans living in the Western Addition have access to only one large supermarket which limits their healthy eating. Touré Clark also mentioned that violence in the Western Addition correlates high for African American deaths. He also talked about the importance of knowing one’s family history of medical problems, which may indicate one’s predisposition for diseases. He also talked about making healthy choices overall, and learning about and appreciating one’s life. He encourage the teens to follow their passions, be patient, ask questions, and strive to succeed.
The BEETS continued the discussion as they toured the clinic and met doctors and nurses who worked there. Some of the BEETS were inspired to consider futures in the medical field. It was a very educational and eye-opening visit. Thank you Touré and the Maxine Hall Health Center for an inspirational afternoon.
For more photos see our Flickr CommunityGrows Photostream here.
On Saturday, March 7, 2015 The BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) took a trip to the South East corner of San Francisco to join LEJ (Literacy for Environmental Justice) teens and staff for a day of gardening and habitat restoration at Candlestick Point State Park. Most of us had never been to this first California State Park, which was purposely acquired to bring state park values into an urban setting.
The morning started at the LEJ community garden and native plant Nursery, where staff Anthony Khalil and “Brother Nature,” as well as teens Bernice, Henry and Karla showed us around and gave us a great education about the native plants and growing from seeds.
Teens were able to propagate native grasses into containers and learn about the history of the area.
The name Candlestick Point dates back to the 1800s, when a U.S. Coast Guard survey gave the designation to a rock outcropping that resembled a candlestick. It has been the home of the nearby 49ers football stadium, which is currently being torn down.
At the beginning of World War II, the United States Navy filled in tidelands to create the nearby Naval Shipyard (now closed).Today the part of this landfill on which the park sits is a cultural resource that demonstrates the effect of major land changes in ecologically sensitive areas.
After a short ride from the garden to Candlestick Point, we hiked out to the point to do some restoration of native habitat, and view the panoramic sights of the City and South Bay. Anthony Kahlil spoke about how the urban environment has changed from one hundred years ago from grasslands and sand dunes to urban areas.
Anthony also talked about what LEJ plans to do to help restore Candlestick Point State Recreation Area (CPSREA) to a healthy habitat for the future. In fact, in partnership with California State Parks (CSP), LEJ was just awarded a $1M grant from the California’s Strategic Growth Council, entitled “Healthy Habitats and Lifestyles,” which will generate significant opportunities for them to continue to advance environmental health, ecological stewardship, and community development in southeast San Francisco.
After a great workday, the BEETS and CommunityGrows staff joined the LEJ team for a terrific BBQ. A great day being outdoors, learning about our City, giving back through restoration and making new friends.
Thank you LEJ for sharing your work with us! Let’s keep the partnership going!
Check out more photos from the day at our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On Wednesday, March 5, 2015 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) spent the afternoon in the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market in Civic Center San Francisco. This site is a frequent visit for our CommunityGrows youth. It is an opportunity to see the farmers who sell here and run the market, and who provide produce to an otherwise food desert. In fact, since the market started in 1981, Civic Center continues to lack a grocery store in the area.
The BEETS started out their tour by hearing Kate Creps, Executive Director of the Heart of the city farmers’ Market, talk about the low-income community they serve. She said that this past year the market gave out over $290,000 in SNAP/CalFresh EBT purchases (formerly known as Food Stamps) and became the top farmers’ market in California to do so.
Tony Mellow of Mellow’s Nursery and Farms, and one of the first farmers from 1981, joined the group to talk about the market’s commitment to providing high-quality and reasonably priced produce from local farms to the heart of San Francisco. He told us that the market is run by the farmers who sell here, with a Board of Directors consisting of five representative farmers elected to serve two year terms and two community members to help the market stay connected to the needs of the neighborhood.
The BEETS were very fortunate to get some tokens (used with EBT clients) to spend in the market. Their goal was to find food items that they could use to make a salad the following day. They were to ask the farmers about their produce, challenges, and location of their farms. The BEETS broke into teams and went in search of ingredients. Regrouping at the end, they shared some of their purchases: lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, carrots, oranges and onions. The next day they would make the salad and serve it with a homemade pizza.
Thank you Kate and everyone for showing us the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market!
To see more photos from the day, visit our Flickr Photostream here.