All posts by Karen Lally

A New Chapter at CommunityGrows


Dear CommunityGrows family,


With a grateful but bittersweet heart, I am officially announcing that I am leaving my position as Director of CommunityGrows this summer.  I am headed over to the East Bay to continue to  support equitable opportunities for health and wellness and connections to the Earth like we do at CG, but in my very own neighborhood. It was a difficult decision- I love the Western Addition/Fillmore community, the staff, the board, the young people, more than I will ever be able to express.   While there have been challenges, as there are with all nonprofits, there have been innumerable joys and gifts in the last six years. I will forever be thankful for this wonderful opportunity to lead, learn, love and grow.


But where there is change, there is opening. And I am so very excited to announce that our new Executive Director, Nolizwe Nondabula, will be joining the CG family in June. We have worked with them in various endeavors in the Western Addition over the last three years, from participating in Mind, Body and Soul Pop-Ups, to collaborating for Mo’Magics Annual Health and Wellness retreat each winter. They are an inspirational leader and community builder dedicated to “moving at the speed of trust.” Nolizwe was who I dreamed about for this role, and I am so excited to see not only how they shine, but how they support all those around them to live their lives in the sun.


In addition to having a fantastic new leader, the CG team is the strongest it has ever been. It has been my pleasure and honor to work with these amazing educators- their skills, creativity, innovation, dedication, and heart are what gave me the confidence to make my next move. Each one has unique skills and talents that have only gotten stronger as they collaborate together. 


This next phase of CommunityGrows will be something to see. Whether it’s pivoting to providing online classes, joining zoom calls with teachers to teach kids how to make healthy snacks, or creating brand new curriculum that engages youth around the connections between pandemics, environmental injustice and racism while still focusing on hope and change… the CommunityGrows team will continue work towards our vision. A vision of a world in which all youth are able to benefit from the joy and healing of nature-based outdoor education and develop the tools, confidence and resources to navigate and challenge structural injustices.


I hope you will join me in celebrating this exciting next phase of CommunityGrows!




Supporting Educators and Students — #GivingTuesdayNow


Goal $3,000

Raised $900

Supporting Our Educators and Students

Today for #GivingTuesdayNow, CommunityGrows is raising money to support two very important groups in our community – our students and our educators. During the shelter in place order, our educators remain committed to connecting youth with the gardens and kitchens and continue to work hard to create and share lesson plans with our students and partner schools. Please donate today so that our students and garden sites can continue to grow and thrive with all of their combined knowledge and thoughtfulness – both now as they facilitate distance learning and when we’re all able to be back in the gardens with the kids!  

Supporting Nonprofits Worldwide

#GivingTuesdayNow is a worldwide movement to support nonprofits, charities, businesses, and communities that are being affected by COVID-19.

“#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity” — from the GTN page, see for more ideas on ways to engage.

GivingTuesdayNow Art

CommunityGrows Earth Day Scavenger Hunt!

Green Inspirational Spring Quote Facebook Post

Happy Earth Day everyone! Today, we want to take time to observe and appreciate the Earth and the nature that is all around us! This includes our yards and neighborhoods!

The Challenge

CommunityGrows invites you to participate in our Scavenger Hunt challenge! While you are outside or on a walk today, see if you can find:

– a flower for every color in the rainbow
– a leaf or flower that is bigger than your face
– something fuzzy
– a tree that looks young
– a tree that looks old
– a bug that flies
– a bug that crawls
– a flower with a long stem
– a plant that has a strong smell

Message and tell us what you observed! If you’d like to be featured on our social media, send us a picture or story about your best find (or tag us in your photo!) Good luck everyone!!

Outdoor Mindfulness Exercises for Earth Day (additional activity): Before you head back inside, here’s a short meditation exercise that engages the 5 senses.  shared by Edutopia

While we hope everyone has a chance to experience some nature today, we also want to make sure everyone is safe! So as you take part in the challenge, please be cautious of what you are touching and remember to keep a 6ft distance between others!

Nature Weaving


Shared by Garden & Nutrition Educator Cristina


  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Yarn or String
  • Pencil or Marker
  • Long Plant Materials (e.g. weed, flower, stem)



Step 1. Cut  short slits in the border of the cardboard around 1inch apart. Do this on both ends of the cardboard, making sure the slits line up with each other.

Step 2. Make a knot at the end of the yarn and place it in one of the top slits of the cardboard; put the other end of the yarn in the bottom slit of the cardboard (make a second knot to secure). Repeat this with every slit of the cardboard.


Step 3. With your plants part start weaving, passing the plant material under the yarn and then up and over the next yarn. Once the plant material is intertwined, gently push it up to the top of the cardboard.

Step 4. Continue to weave plants and move them up gently until the cardboard is filled. Share your creations!


Roasted Chickpea Snack


Kid jobs: Pinching, pouring, stirring, eating, smelling

Learning objectives: Choosing spices is a creative skill that you can practice and develop. Begin to know spices based on smell, color and texture. Delicious snacks can be healthy, homemade, affordable, and fun. Practice fine motor skills.


  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Any mix of spices that you like [I generally do Smoked Paprika and Garlic, but this is a nice way to develop and share a preference].

Supplies: Mixing Bowl, Stirring Spoon (or you use your hands!), Baking Tray, Oven.


  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Step 2: Wash one can of chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) in a colander.
  • Optional Step: Depending on the interest of the participants, pinch each chickpea to get the skin off! Leave the skinless chickpea intact, don’t smush it! You don’t have to do this step, but it can be very meditative and/or fun. Chickpea skins go in the compost.
  • Step 3: Pour chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the olive oil until all chickpeas are coated. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and the spices you choose over the oily chickpeas and mix until they are all coated with all the spices.
  • Step 4: Pour them out on a lined baking tray into one layer of chickpeas.
  • Step 5: Put in the oven for about 20 minutes and check two or three times to stir so the roasting is even-ish. Pull them out once they are the crispiness that you like. [I like a toasty outside with a mushy inside, but sometimes I forget and leave them until they are crispy all the way through with a delicious outer layer of spices, and that is okay too!]
  • Step 6: Allow to cool until it’s easy to pick them up. [I suggest putting them into small individual bowls because once you start snacking it’s hard to stop!]
  • Step 7: Eat!

Garden Parfait Snack Recipe

garden parfait


  • 2 graham crackers
  • Yogurt
  • Blueberries and strawberries
  • Plastic knife
  • Plastic spoon
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Markers
  • Colorful paper squares
  • Clear plastic cup


Step 1: Using one paper square and markers draw a flower or nature scene. Cut out the picture and tape it on the end of the spoon, it will look like a flower in a garden when you are done!

Step 2: Crush one graham cracker in the bottom of the clear cup using the spoon.

Step 3: Pour several inches of yogurt over the graham cracker layer.

Step 4: Chop the strawberries and blueberries however you like, place them on the surface of the yogurt in a design to make a caterpillar, worm or pattern. Crumble the remaining graham cracker all around the remainder of the yogurt surface. 

Step 5: Add the flower spoon, admire the layers  of your parfait from the side of your clear cup and then eat!

Koshland and COVID-19

20200220_111745 (3)

To our Neighbors and Friends,

We hope you are all doing well during this difficult time, and that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.

At this time, following the shelter in place order, SF Rec and Park discourages us from visiting community gardens. We know that for some of you, the garden may be part of your essential functions. If you do choose to visit the garden, please take every precaution possible to protect yourself and other members of the community by adhering to the following guidelines:

1) Note that locks, gate and shed handles, hoses/spigots, and shared tools, as well as other garden items and resources that multiple people touch could be vectors for COVID-19 and other diseases.

2) CommunityGrows is not able provide sanitizer at this time, so please bring your own sanitizing solution and sanitize any locks, water keys, spigots, communal tools, etc. (here’s a list of effective sanitizers from the CDC website).

3) If possible, bring and use your own garden tools and equipment (here’s a link to order your own water key).

4) Be mindful of the health and needs of others, and maintain a 6-foot distance from any other gardeners or community members.

5) Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after visiting the garden, and avoid touching your face while working in the garden.

Rec and Park has added Koshland to their rounds, and will be checking on it twice a week for litter abatement and new tree watering. If you do notice something that needs attention, please get in touch.

We want to note that at this time, there is no evidence to suggest that fresh produce is associated with the transmission of COVID-19, so it’s safe to continue to eat your veggies so long as you wash them!


Thank you for being a part of our community, and please stay safe and healthy.

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns–our contact info is below.


The CG team


Thank You, Angelique


CommunityGrows is saying goodbye and thank you this week to a wonderful team member and friend, Angelique (Marketing and Communications Coordinator). Angelique joined the CG team last February through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. She immediately jumped into things, not only helping to coordinate and capture the Rebuilding Together SHE Builds event at Koshland, but also built a new planter box with the volunteers!

IMG_2174 (1)
IMG_2145 (1)

In the following months, Angelique became involved in all parts of CommunityGrows – she attended partner events, joined the summer festivals, volunteered with the garden and cooking classes, and took over all the social media accounts! She made some great graphics, blogs, and flyers, and put a lot of energy into updating the website and marketing materials.


I moved to San Francisco to find a job I loved after college. I never thought that I would find a perfect job in my in my 20s. CommunityGrows has helped me change and grow in so many better ways. I learned so many things through my coworkers, educators, parents, The BEETS, as well as the kids that I worked with. Thank you to all the amazing and wonderful people I met and worked with, I wish that everyone can experience the love that I received.” – Angelique 

Though we’re sad to see her go right now, we want to celebrate what a wonderful year it has been. Angelique says she will still be around volunteering and visiting! Thank you again, all of us at CommunityGrows wish you the very best!

#GivingTuesday 2019

IMG_20191118_145750_323 (1)

Goal $2,000

Raised $2,010 !!

What Is #GivingTuesday? 

#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. #GivingTuesday isn’t just about fundraising, it’s about communities banding together and giving of their time, power, skills, expertise and resources. It’s about the collective spirit of generosity that brings change to our communities.


Why Support CommunityGrows

CommunityGrows is a non-profit organization fiscally sponsored by the Tides Center and committed to cultivating healthy youth through growing gardens in low-income, diverse communities. Through our integrated programs – which combine garden education, nutritious cooking and eating, and work-based learning – youth acquire the necessary skills to live a healthy life for themselves, their families, and the environment. CommunityGrows serves over 1,300 kids each year with seven full time staff, two AmeriCorps VISTA, and many volunteers. Your support helps build our capacity, allowing us to deepen our roots in the community, build stronger relationships with our youth, and increase our impact. In short, a partnership with us grows healthier kids and a healthier planet.

Examples of #UNselfie photos!
Examples of #UNselfie photos!

Ways to Support!

  • Donate! As a nonprofit, we raise most of the money for our programs through grants and individual donations. Your support allows us to provide free garden and nutrition programming to our students and supports our BEETS teen workforce!
  • Share our Content! Looking for other ways to get involved? Help us widen our reach and share our content leading up to the event and on the actual day!
  • Create an #UNselfie! #UNselfie’s became really popular in the last couple of years to support nonprofits. Write out some text about why you donated or support CommunityGrows and then have a friend take a photo of you. Make this photo your profile picture and/or share it on your social media pages!
  • Tag 5 Friends! We’ve all scrolled past a post on a friend’s timeline, but that’s a little harder if you specifically reach out to friends! Even if they can’t donate at this time, it would be great to have folks continue to share about CommunityGrows and widen our impact!
  • “I’m Going!” Click that your are “attending” our Facebook event. The more people we have marked as attending, the more reach the post will have. This will also make the campaign visible to your Facebook followers.
  • Come to a Workday! Get involved with our programming by volunteering at one of our weekend workdays, community events, or classes.
  • Share this List! Have friends that are looking to support a nonprofit? Share this list with your friends, co-workers, book club, sports team, family, roommates, etc. so they can get involved in #GivingTuesday too!
  • Take a Break! You’ve spent so much time helping us out – spend some time for yourself! Maybe get some fresh air in the garden(:
Thank you!
Thank you!

National Rebuilding Day 2019: SheBuilds for the Community!

She2019bd (2)

As April comes to a close, we at CommunityGrows are celebrating the successful completion of a nearly year-long project with Rebuilding Together! The SheBuilds team joined us at Koshland Community Park and Learning Garden on National Rebuilding Day with the goal of  increasing the capacity and existing green space in the garden, as well as building on and revitalizing the awesome space that is already there. Over the course of two weekends, we had over 60 womxn donate their time, skills, and energy to beautifying the space for our neighbors and students, and we are thrilled with how the project turned out!

On April 27th, hundreds of volunteers mobilized around San Francisco (and thousands across the US) to take place in Rebuilding Together’s National Rebuilding Day event! CommunityGrows was lucky to partner with an amazing SheBuilds crew to tackle our garden projects. The main focus of our day was an underutilized hillside in the southwest corner of the garden. The prep crew cleared the hillside the weekend before, so on the build day we landscaped the top of the hill with native and pollinator plants, as well as 2 new fruit trees. On the lower, flatter half of the hillside, we built and installed 5 planter boxes to be used by new community gardeners.


“I really want to be on the planting crew – I think it’s really therapeutic to dig holes” – volunteer during project assignments


Other projects for the day included creating a chalkboard and welcome sign for the outdoor learning classroom; painting the garden shed; and completing a variety of garden projects to open up and beautify the space. The garden is totally transformed!


“Working in the garden, I forgot we were in San Francisco for a minute” – volunteer taking in the view from the hill outside the garden


This process has definitely been a team effort and we are very grateful for the hard work that all of the partners and volunteers have put into this project! A special shout-out to Rebuilding Together and SF Rec and Park for all of their help throughout the whole process, and thank you to PG&E and CalReleaf for their support! 

We hope to see you in the garden soon!