On Saturday, November 23, 2013, CommunityGrows participated with many neighborhood partners to offer Thanksgiving to the Community at John Muir Elementary School. The BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) join teens from Magic Zone to serve up the food. The afternoon entertainment included many different youth groups performing, such as Handful Players and John Muir students, and the Soka Gakkai Chorus lead by Horus Tolson, and many other musicians and dancers. The Western Addition Beacon and Community Partners United helped to organize this successful event. California State Senator, Mark Leno, and Jeff Adachi, Public Defender of San Francisco, also attended. A great time was had by all.Check out more photos on our CommunityGrows Flickr Photstream here.
On Thursday, November 14, 2013 John Muir Elementary School in San Francisco was a-buzz with activity as parents, teachers, principal Chris Rosenberg, CommunityGrows staff and the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) joined Markos Major, for a Pollinator Garden Project at the school. They planted California native and other climate-adapted plants, feed the garden’s Recology compost, sowed hundreds of cover crop seeds (fava beans and peas), and celebrate San Francisco’s biodiversity!
As coordinator of the “Climate Action Now!” teen environmental education program Markos makes it his mission to communicate the connections between climate change and consumption choices. With a focus on empowerment through action, Climate Action Now! examines how everyday choices like composting and eating locally grown seasonal (mostly vegetarian) foods can help reduce the effects of climate change.
One of the highlights of the afternoon came when the teens were planting in front of the school and Director of Programs, Nora Brereton discovered a tiny frog in one of the planter containers. It was a thrill rarely met with! After everyone had a chance to see the frog before Markos safely returned it to a pond in San Francisco.
On Tuesday November 5, 2013 the CommunityGrows BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) hosted a panel of workers from the community. On the panel were Francee Covington, a San Francisco Fire Commissioner, Carol Fields, a Rosa Parks Elementary School teacher, Genevieve Cyrs, an Occupational Therapist from the OTTP Training Program, Tyrone Mullins with (team members Marcus and James), from Green Streets, and Jeremy Siemers, Starbucks Store Manager.
A lively discussion ensued with panel participants talking about their jobs: how they got them, what they entailed, and what lessons and suggestions they could pass on about employment. Then there was time for the teens to ask everyone questions. It was a great sharing of ideas and inspiration. Thank you everyone for participating and sharing you lives with the BEETS.
Saturday, November 2, 2013 the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) hosted teens from the CA Academy of Sciences and CommunityGrows hosted the Redwood Trust Employee Foundation for a day of garden maintenance in Koshland Park.
The Redwood Trust is a real estate investment trust (REIT) located in Mill Valley, CA. In May 2007, the Redwood Trust Employee Foundation was created for the purpose of supporting and conducting charitable activities by facilitating employees’ involvement in community service. With the continued support and efforts of their employees, the Foundation contributed financial resources and time to CommunityGrows supporting their work with the environment. We were honored to have Kate Freedman and Jessica Sergi join us for the day.
The Cal Academy’s digital learning youth program is a group of teens working on a year long project to create interactive videos and digital maps to educate the public about the food they consume and how to make healthy choices for themselves and the planet. The teens were interested in learning how community gardens play a role in sustainable food systems.
The day started off with the BEETS setting up the garden circle and getting snacks, name-tags and sign-ins in place. When everyone arrived Damion Edgerson, one of the Fall BEETS, led an ice-breaker allowing everyone to learn each others’ names and create garden names. Then there was a brief history of the garden, an introduction to the BEETS, and a tour of the garden by many of the BEETS. Arif Husain and Tyson Appel, two community gardeners talked about their experiences gardening and answered questions from the crowd. Tyson’s family joined in on the day and enjoyed their time in the garden.
For the next two hours crews were busy trimming ivy, pulling weeds, turning soil, transplanting bushes, and sifting compost. We were even able to move a deep rooted morning glory plant to the back fence of the garden, giving it better room to grow. This project alone took the full two hours and many strong and willing teens. Walking through the garden at the end of the day everyone saw the fruits of their labors and the transformation for the beginning of the fall season.
On a cold Wednesday afternoon, October 23, 2013 ten of the Fall BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) met up with Melissa Tang to explore the Civic Center Farmers Market in San Francisco. Although it was late in the day, the market was still bustling with shoppers checking out the produce from farmers’ stalls.
The BEETS were fortunate to have a welcome from Kate Creps, the Executive Director of this Heart of the City Farmers’ Market. This market is an independent, farmer-operated non-profit that was started in 1981 to provide a much needed source of fresh produce to a “food desert” that lacked a grocery store. The market supports and sustains small-scale growers and helps prices stay affordable for the low-income community of Civic Center and the Tenderloin. (More than 80% of food stamps (Cal Fresh EBT) benefits used at SF Farmers Markets are used at this market).
After talking with the BEETS, Kate introduced Tony Mellow, one of the farmers who has had a stall at the market since the beginning! Tony Mellow’s family has been farming in the Silicon Valley for four generations, since the 1800s. His grandparents started the first of the family farms, growing apricots, prunes, and pears for the local canneries. His father continued the tradition, adding farms spread across the San Francisco Bay area to grow walnuts and fruit for local canneries and prune dehydrators. Tony always knew he wanted to be a farmer and has been farming since he was 12. In 1966, he started growing pumpkins and miscellaneous vegetables and by 1977 he owned his own ranch in Morgan Hill.The BEETS went on a scavenger hunt after that to talk with farmers about their produce, farms and growing practices. Then they regrouped and shared information and produce they purchased.
On Saturday, October 19, 2013 the CommunityGrows staff, lead by Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager, and Adrian Almquist, Garden Educator, took a group of our Fall 2013 BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) out of the City to enjoy a day at Green Gulch Farm in Marin. Hoka Sarah Carter, a docent for the farm, lead them on an adventure through the fields, checking out edible plants, compost piles, and bee hives. It was a beautiful relaxing day that ended with a walk to Muir Beach and picking pumpkins to take home. Lots of fun had by all.
On Saturday, September 14th our friends from Starbucks joined CommunityGrows staff and the new Fall cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) for a workday in Koshland Park and Garden. Lots of green refuse came out of the garden, and wood chips when in. Beds were mulched, ivy cleared, and fun was had by all. Thank you everyone for a great day!
On August 8, 2013 our Summer cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) had a graduation ceremony at Hayes Valley Youth Center. Melissa Tang, our new CommunityGrows BEETS Manager officiated with awards and certificates.
In fact, after giving out certificates of completion, some of the fun awards were:
Barbara Nguyen: Future Firefighter
Venyse Sims: Best Attendance
Carlos Martine: Best Work Ethic
Sydni Walker: Future Entrepreneur
Serena Adams-Johnson: Positive Outlook Award
Jennifer Rodriguez: Most Responsible
Candy Williams: Best Bicyclist
Joana Juan: Future Teacher
Joseph Morrison: Best Dancer
Julianna Echeverria: Future Author
Yeurra Baylock: Cool, Calm, and Collected Award
Family and friends joined us and we all celebrated with pizza afterwards. Shakirah Simley, from our Advisory Board gave everyone gift cards to Bi-Rite Grocery.
CommunityGrows BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) participated in Teen Science Night at the CA Academy of Science on Friday, August 16, 2013. Teen Science Night was a night of non-stop science exploration, DJs, dancing, games and food organized by Bay Area Teen Science (B.A.T.S.) The B.A.T.S. collaborative, which includes youth from the Oakland Zoo, Chabot Space Science Center, Exploratorium, UC Berkeley Space Science Laboratory, and the Academy of Sciences provided hands-on experiences and other science related programming for teens from across the Bay Area. Through presentations and activities, collaborating organizations and the Academy’s Youth Programs highlighted youth involvement in the scientific community. The goal of this event was to provide a safe environment to allow youth from various backgrounds to learn, share, and discover science.
Melissa Tang, our new CommunityGrows BEETS Program Manager, was especially happy to show off the CA Academy to our BEETS, as this was where she previously worked as Assistant Manager for the Careers in Science Youth Program. Many of the youth in her CA Academy Program were leading the evening’s activities and events. She had lots of reunions and kudos for all the youth.
One of the highlights of the night for our BEETS was the Earthquake exhibit and planetarium show. This exhibit explored the seismic science that has shaped Earth’s evolution and continues to impact our lives today. The Shake House was especially exciting, as it transported the teens back in time to see, hear and feel two earthquakes and experience the sustained tremors of the city’s two biggest quakes, the 6.9–magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake and the 7.9–magnitude Great San Francisco quake of 1906. The teens entered a simulated dining room of a classic Victorian-era home with a window view of San Francisco’s famed “Painted Ladies” houses of Alamo Square. Then the lights went out and there was shaking everywhere. Fifteen seconds of shaking seemed like eternity! Very scary and jolting (no pun intended)! The teens really had to hold on. They could imagine books flying off the shelves, glass breaking and everything turning upside down. Most of them had never experienced an earthquake and were impressed by the magnitude and destruction it could wield.
Then off to explore the rest of the Academy. ..”Winding up a living 4-story rainforest, where dripping water set the beat for a symphony of croaking frogs and chirping birds, they meet chameleons from Madagascar, climbed into the tree-tops of Costa Rica to find free-flying birds and butterflies, and then descended into the Amazonian flooded forest, walking beneath the catfish and arapaima that swam overhead.” The rest of the evening they spent exploring other areas of the Academy, and enjoyed music from the DJs and games and food. A great night was had by all! Go Science! Go B.A.T.S.!