On Thursday, February 19, 2015 our Spring BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) took a trip to Pie Ranch is Pescadero, California. Here are some notes from the day, written by Melissa Tang, our CommunityGrows BEETS Program Manager:
“I liked eating pie and learning about the different processes used in the farm!” – Vicente Rivera, BEET Intern
Not only did the BEETS interns eat pie but they spent the day bonding and getting to know each other as we learned about sustainable farming practices and worked on the farm.
After introductions, we all jumped in the back of a pickup truck for our tour of Pie Ranch. The farm stand was a barn alongside the highway were the community could stop to buy farm fresh products, attend a barn dance, or take classes. Then the BEETS learned about the health and ecological benefits of pasture raised chickens. Not only do chickens help weed and fertilize the farm but eating natural grasses rich in omega 3s provides a more nutrient egg for humans to consume. We talked about how pasture raised eggs are raised differently than conventional eggs. The BEETS had the opportunity to collect eggs for the farm stand and to try a couple eggs at lunch.
Speaking of lunch, Pie Ranch staff made a delicious chard salad, fried a couple of pasture raised eggs and let us try their famous pies along with our lunch. Staff from Pie Ranch joined the BEETS for a communal lunch in their outdoor kitchen and we all gave thanks to a beautiful day, to the food, and to the great company we were with. After tasting a fresh pasture raised egg, one our BEETS pointed out that “the chicken eggs seemed healthier than the eggs they sell at the super market.” After eating a nutritious and filling lunch, the BEETS were ready to do some farm work. We split up in groups and spread out in the farm to organize bales of hay in the barn, sift compost, build fencing to rotate the cows, and to weed the orchard.
BEETS intern, Tomicia reflected, “I always appreciated how hard farmers worked, but after working today I have an even deeper appreciation for their efforts in growing food for us.”
For more photos from the day, check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
On a rainy night, Tuesday, December 16th the Fall cohort of BEETS graduated at the Hayes Valley Apartments Community Room. Many family and friends were in attendance, including members of Green Streets [a group of housing development residents and entrepreneurs who have created jobs and established recycling in the distressed San Francisco housing projects where they live], four CommunityGrows Advisory Board members, and BEETS Alumni.
Teens graduating were: Angie Lemus, Anthony Hernandez, Asante Munson, Aylin Soria, Chrislyn Earle, Claudia Williams, Emilia Vedar, Kenya Mack, Kyle Patterson, and Vicente Rivera.
All the teens received certificates and kudos from the staff for the great job they did this fall learning soft job skills, attending workshops, and working with the younger youth in our CommunityGrows programs.
Terrific food was provided by Esposto’s Delicatessen including pastas and salads. Everyone enjoyed the event which held humor and refection in great accomplishments this fall. Congratulations everyone!
For more photos check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.
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