On Friday, October 20, 2017, youth and adults from nearby housing complexes came out to enjoy the fall weather and carve pumpkins to decorate Buchanan Mall.Citizen Film planned the event and built a scarecrow and laid straw bales. With the help of CommunityGrows staff, Melissa Tang (Director of Programs) and Osceola Ward (BEETS Program Manager)……and BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) Michele and Elius……youth chose their pumpkins, drew faces and commenced cleaning out the seeds and carving. Lots of slimy work……but the results paid off!Pumpkin pie was another highlight.Everyone got to take their creations home to remember a great afternoon celebrating the fall season! For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On September 29, 2017 volunteers from Bain and Co and Gateway High School joined CommunityGrows for a workday in Koshland Garden. Melissa Tang, our new CommunityGrows Director of Programs, working with Adrian Almquist, Garden Programs Manager, led the day and assigned tasks. These great crews turned the compost, prepped beds in the lower garden, weeded, moved concrete blocks, pruned ivy near the stage and above the shed, chopped down fennel, touched up the mural, aerated roots on trees, gleaned the nasturtiums, weeded grass out of the blackberries, sweep steps and the stage, weeded along outer edge of garden, organized the gloves, checked tool shed, and watered.
During the workday we had a visit from the new Recreation and Park Department’s Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens Program Manager, Mei Ling Hui.She was able to identify one of the mysteries of the garden: a citrus tree that seemed to grow gigantic limes. It turned out that this was a grapefruit tree, and Mei Ling suggested we prune it back and give it lots of nitrogen. We are very excited to discover the identity of this gem in our orchard.
Both Bain & Company and Gateway High School worked very well together, accomplishing so many tasks to get our garden in shape for the fall environmental education classes. Thank you so much for your great work! For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On September 14, 2017 the after-school class of the Western Addition Beacon kids arrived in Koshland Garden full of enthusiasm to be outdoors. CommunityGrows Gardens Program Manager, Adrian Almquist, corralled the mostly kindergarten and first graders together to start a lesson on the what plants need to survive. Dirt… water… sun… and air. After taking attendance and helping everyone choose nature names for themselves, Adrian talked about the basics of helping plants grow. Youth then planted seeds which they will watch grow throughout the fall. Time was left for everyone to carry water buckets around the garden giving the plants much needed water. A great afternoon outdoors in the sunshine of the garden. For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
Wednesday September 6, 2017, CommunityGrows held its second annual fundraiser at Joey the Cat, an event space and arcade game rental company in the Mission District. The event was sponsored by Kaiser-Permanente and it was a blast! Our wonderful Advisory Board put tons of work into raffle prizes and invited many of their friends. We raised over $10K and made lots of new friends. Our CommunityGrows Advisory Board did an amazing job reaching out to their networks for tickets and contacting organizations for raffle donations (we almost doubled our raffle tickets total from last year) and working the room to encourage support (special shout out to Abby Blodgett for doing a fabulous job at running the tournaments)!Some of our favorite moments were Will Newsom’s pop-a-shot challenge that fell to Christina in short order……and the “Santa bag” of baguettes that got distributed to a lot of happy attendees and Mission residents on the walk home. Great job, everyone! For more photos check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday, August 26th there were a lot of rallies going on in San Francisco. In fact, two blocks away from our office and Buchanan Mall, thousands of people mobilized around Alamo Square to show their disdain for white supremacy. Months before these rallies developed, our Western Addition community came together to present a Peace Festival in Buchanan Mall. It was a day of motivational speakers, live performances, kid activities, arts and crafts. This event honor Ms. Alice Rowena Jamerson Lane, community mother of Virgo’s store (she and her husband were both Virgos). Ms. Lane lived in the community for over 70 years. She opened the store “Virgo’s Deli and Liquor Store”. She had 5 children and a husband who helped run the business. Ms. Alice took care of the community and the community did the same towards her. Ms. Lane passed away July 8, 2017 at the age of 79.
The Peace Festival sponsors included Terry Taylor, Mattie Scott (the Healing Circle), Citizen Film, Xpress Ministry, Success Center, Brothers for Changhe, United Playaz, SFPD, SFFD 798, Eli Crawford, Band Funk Star, Big Rich (Project Level), Ella Hill Hutch Center and Positive People for Positive Change. I love SF Skate Club also participated and was a highlight for all the skateboarders in the neighborhood! CommunityGrows Vista employee Karen Lally and Barbara Wenger, ED, presided over a table passing out information about our upcoming BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) Program, volunteer opportunities, information on our Joey the Cat fundraiser, as well as seed packets, peace envelopes and postcards. David Lazar, Commander of the San Francisco Police Department, was on hand, as well as a few other police officers. Most other police officers were busy with protests and rallies in other parts of the neighborhood. One officer said she would much rather be at this Peace Festival. Nursing students from the University of San Francisco were a big hit offering blood pressure readings and other health resources. Big Rich and Danielle Banks from Project Level came by. Sophie Constantous and son Milo captured the afternoon for CitizenFilm.The music from Band Funk Star was awesome and the BBQ and food from Bi-Rite Grocery was delicious!The kids had a great time doing arts and crafts, skateboarding and playing games. With such a busy day in San Francisco, it was also a pleasant surprise to have the President of our San Francisco Board of Supervisors, London Breed, come out and revel in the good work of the community and share the afternoon. London is second from the right, next to Mattie Scott from the Healing Circle on the far right. It was a wonderful afternoon that brought out the neighborhood in Buchanan Mall to celebrate peace and stop the violence. For more wonderful photos from the day, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
CommunityGrows has won a $3,000 grant from the District Attorney’s Office Neighborhood Justice Award. The award will help CommunityGrows build neighborhood cohesion, by employing the BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) to beautify a community garden at the African American Arts and Culture Complex and maintain Buchanan Mall as a safe space, between Fulton and Eddy Streets. The awards were giving on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by the San Francisco District Attorney, George Gascón. The ceremony took place in Chinatown at the Gum Moon Women’s Residence/Asian Women’s Resource Center at 940 Washington Street in San Francisco. Other award recipients included: BMagic, CARE, Renaissance Parents of Success, Gum Moon Women’s Residence, Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Community Works, Japantown Task Force, Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center, DISH, La Voz Latina Program, and Central Market Community Benefit District. Congratulations everyone!
This summer CommunityGrows’ Rec Connect class has met with cooking class coordinator Crystal Leon with a theme of summer simplicity that will also be able to carry students throughout the school year. That theme is: After School Snack.
With the goal of putting together a series of lessons that included all recipes that the kids would be able to reproduce at home without a stove, and ideally without the aid of an adult. We started our short six week series with our own interpretation of the pizza Lunchable, using multi-grain crackers, miniature whole wheat pitas, marinara sauce and an assortment of veggies from spinach and basil, to olives and sweet peppers. Midway through out summer session we explored our creative bandwidth making fruit sundaes (a fruit and yogurt parfait by a far more appealing name). We built our “sundae” with a foundation of fruit, a layer of multi-grain cereal, a dollop of yogurt, and topped them with fresh raspberries. We’ll end our season exploring pasta alternatives with a recipe that has become a CommunityGrows favorite – zucchini noodles and pesto! We hope your summer has been as tasty and nutritious as ours thus far.
-Courtesy of the CommunityGrows Seed to Mouth Program
On Wednesday August 16, 2017 a large group of Morgan Stanley volunteers came out to help us get Koshland Garden in good shape for the upcoming school year. After welcomes and introductions by the CommunityGrows staff, Melissa Tang, Director of Programs led everyone on a tour of the garden. The memorial planting garden was under renovation and expansion thanks to a Community Challenge grant from the City of San Francisco.Walking through the rows of beds volunteers learned about and tasted various plants that were growing. In the fruit orchard they got to see apples, lemons, prunes, persimmons, raspberries, blackberries and figs growing for fall harvest. Then volunteers were assigned different tasks that keep them busy for the afternoon. They got to clean up the memorial circle, prune ivy, rake paths, sweep stairs, weed berry bushes and community beds, as well as sweep the stage, turn over the compost and prune along the fence line. When all this was done, everyone enjoyed watering. At the end of the day the group reconvened to talk about their experiences and what they enjoyed and learned from their visit. Thank you so much Morgan Stanley for providing this volunteer opportunity for us. We are extremely grateful for your support and hard work! For more photos, please check out our Flickr Photostream here. Thank you again!
On Friday afternoon August 11, 2017, volunteers from the GAP came out to help us prepare our Rosa Parks Gardens for the upcoming school year. After introductions and tours of the Upper and Lower gardens, two groups worked on watering and breaking up a area for planting. Tilling hoes and shovels did heavy work on the hard earth opening up the soil. Compost was mixed in and cover crops of beans, oats and crimson clover were added to bring nutrients back. The chickens enjoyed the afternoon taking naps in the dirt and fluffing out their feathers. At the end of the day everyone shared what the experience was like and what they learned. It was also the last day of our great Rosa Parks Garden Educator, Jay Jordan, and the second day of his wonderful replacement, Anna Luberoff. Thank you so much GAP volunteers for helping us get the gardens ready for school. For more photos check out our Flickr Photostream here.
Saturday, August 5, 2017 was an overcast day, but that didn’t stop hundreds of kids and families coming out to the Health Faire at Ella Hill Hutch. The rewards were getting fully-loaded backpacks to start school. Many organizations and health agencies gave these families an opportunity to learn about resources in the community. There was an Emergency Response Team, dental screenings, and mental health organizations that joined the YMCA, KIPP, the National Parks and many others, including CommunityGrows. Staff members Adrian Almquist and Jay Jordan were on hand to offer healing herbs, free seeds and more information about our programs. Jay prepared a presentation on gratitude, including sage and rosemary. Face-painting was a popular activity too. Outside, food trucks, jumpy houses and games keep everyone happy while waiting in long lines to go through the resources to get the free backpacks. More photos from the day here.