Tag Archives: beets

We’re hiring BEETs!

BEETs Program 2020 (1)

The BEETs Program is now accepting applications for the 2020-2021 school year! The BEETs Program is a paid internship for teens ages 14-19, which focuses on environmental justice, gardening, and job skills. This year, the program will take place virtually, as well as in-person in various outdoor locations throughout the city.


This is a PAID opportunity! Spread the word!

Applications are still being accepted! Click below to apply online; you can also email info@communitygrows.org or call 415-795-3855 for more information.

Congratulations, BEETS class of 2018-19!


Jalyn McFarland-Kelley
Tiana Hubbard
Daniel Juarez
Ahlaya Martin
Hannah Lin

On Wednesday, May 15  our BEETS cohort culminated their 6-month internship with CommunityGrows with a graduation celebration! These teens were such an amazing team: they successfully planned and ran run three community-events in the Western Addition: Wreath and Card Making in partnership with Hayes Valley Art Works;  Neighborhood Love Day in partnership with the Rosa Parks Senior Center and Earth Day on the Mall, where they created fun and informative booths for children from Rosa Parks ExCEL and Booker T. Washington after-school programs, as well as our neighbors and community members. This year they also partnered with teens from Youth Art Exchange to create mobile meditation stations that they can use in the garden to teach mindfulness and meditation to children and families.

The BEETS learned how to plant and tend a garden and connected with the environment by helping maintain the Buchanan Mall and Koshland Park and Learning Garden.  They learned about environmental justice issues like lead in soil, access to safe green space and clean air.  They also learned about the importance of taking care of our groundwater supply and the dangers of flooding.  The BEETS learned about nutrition and food justice: they learned how to read nutrition labels, prepare nutritious snacks and meals, and how food deserts and racist food systems disadvantage low income communities and communities of color.

With special thanks to our funders


Impact Fund

San Francisco Arts Commission

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

San Francisco Department of Health

This summer we’re partnering with Opportunities for All!

BEETS Build 4

We’re excited to announce that this summer our BEETS Program will be participating in Mayor Breed’s Opportunities for All initiative!

We’re partnering with Magic Zone to offer teens up to 80 hours  of job skills and training focused on gardening, environmentalism and healthy cooking this summer.  Through the exciting partnership we’ll be able to increase our stipend rate to $15 an hour!

Internships are from Jun 17th-August 1st with a special kick-off event on June 6th and orientation on June 10th.

Click the green button below to download the OFA timeline and application checklist list and the orange button to fill out an  online application (under “Employment Interests Other” please write CommunityGrows or BEETS Program).

Please email info@communitygrows.org with any questions.

Celebrating Earth Day!

On April 22nd, the BEETS hosted an Earth Day Celebration on the Buchanan Mall. The event featured healthy yogurt parfait snacks, a scavenger hunt, an “Around the Earth” free throw contest, writing letters to the Earth and seed planting! Children and youth from neighboring programs like Booker T. Washington and Ella Hill came to learn and play with our teens!

Thank you Earth for all that you give us! And thanks to everyone who made Earth Day such a special day!

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Earth Day pic1
Earth Day pic2

2019 Youth BEETS and YAX Build a Mediation Pavilion

YAX Meditation Station Installation8

Thanks to support from the San Francisco Arts Commission, our BEETS and teens from YAX  (Youth Art Exchange) collaborated with the Advanced Architecture Firm students to design and build an outdoor, mobile meditation pavilion: an outdoor, collapsible and transportable pavilion that holds five to ten people. It will be used for quiet reflection, meditation and teaching opportunities to be built, it is installed in Koshland Community Park.


To begin the project, the students spent time visiting the site and individually presented their findings of preferred locations for the project along with other site conditions. The students then met with Community Grows to understand the organizations needs, wants and wishes for the pavilion and came up with a list of parameters. Individually, through quick model making activities, the students explored spatial concepts, scale and geometries.

Following this initial research and schematic design the students were split into three groups, each covering a unique concept and presented their final designs, through drawings, inspiration images and models to a panel of professional architects and builders. With feedback and collectively assessing pro’s and con’s of each design the students decided to move forward with two concepts to build prototypes.

YAX Meditation Station Installation15

The last steps for the project are to meet with the high school youth from Community Grows and present the final 2 designs; work with them to gain input and feedback and collectively select the final design concept. Once this was decided the students completed the build out of the pavilion and installed it on site on March 20th, 2019.

YAX Meditation Station Installation32 (1)

The mobile meditation pavilion project has given the students invaluable knowledge and skills that has provided an understanding of both architecture and construction as well as the intersection through project and industry based learning. The youth architecture team has and will continue to explore their role in activating a community; providing social, economic and environmental benefits as engaged youth as designers and builders!  Congratulations to this year’s hard working BEETS, you are amazing. Thank you for this wonderful meditation pavilion for the community.

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Join the BEETS 2019 Summer Session! Apply Today!

BEETS Flyer 2018 Summer (Blog SM Card) (1)

Are you or someone you know 14–19 years old and looking to GET PAID to learn more about the environment, nutrition and gain valuable job skills?

We are now accepting applications for the 2019 summer session! In this paid program, teens will learn how to grow healthy food, meet new friends, teach kids about the environment, and make a difference in the community through field trips and community projects.

This summer BEETS will learn where their food comes from, how fresh fruit and vegetables can heal our bodies and communities, and how to grow their own food. They can gain valuable leadership and job skills, all while earning a stipend!

Summer Application Deadline: May 27th, 2019

Program Dates: June 24th – August 2, 2019

Click the buttons below to download and print an application OR fill out our online application. You may also email debbie@communitygrows.org or call our main office at (415) 795-3855 for more information.

Are you a partner or community member? Help us spread the word by clicking the button below to download and print out our full-size flyer, or scroll down to share this post on social media. We appreciate it!

Hello BEETS, Mobile Meditation Pavilions, and 2019!

BEETS at the Wreath and Card Making Event 12.16.18
BEETS at the Wreath and Card Making Event 12.16.18

In Case You Missed It… 

The BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated & Employable Teens) is an opportunity for teens to earn a stipend as they learn about environmental stewardship, experience nature, discover issues of food equity and environmental justice, and increase their personal well-being and that of their own neighborhood and community.

As part of the program, BEETS maintain sustainable community gardens, teach garden-based environmental education classes to younger learners, plan community outreach events, and build green spaces for and with residents in low-income neighborhoods. During each session, BEETS go on 10 field trips on weekends to places like Alemany Farms, Pie Ranch, Farmers Market, the Giant’s Garden at AT&T, and other places around the Bay Area!

So What’s on the Docket?

In addition to their twice weekly group cohorts, the BEETS are looking forward this month to visiting the gardens of Alcatraz and enjoying a breakfast at the Ferry Building farmer’s market. Aside from field trips, students said they were interested in learning more about GMO’s, growing organic, working with younger students and seniors, and different models of community gardening.


New Program Manager Debbie says that she is excited “to see how their interests develop as they become more comfortable in the program” and to hopefully to take the group camping sometime this winter! We can’t wait to see where the semester takes them!

Successfully pulling out the root of a sunflower!

YAX Mobile Meditation Presentation

In November, the Youth Art Exchange (YAX) teens presented their current project to the new BEETS members. This fall session the primary focus of the Advanced Architecture Firm students has been to design and build an outdoor mobile meditation pavilion in collaboration with CommunityGrows. A design build project, the parameter for the students has been to act as a youth architecture firm and lead CommunityGrows,“the client,” in an exploration and analysis of the site, the users, and the desired use outcome: an outdoor, collapsible, and transportable pavilion that holds 5 – 10 people and can be used for quiet reflection, meditation and teaching opportunities to be built and installed in Koshland Community park.

YAX students presenting on the Mobile Meditation designs.

The remaining steps for the project are to meet with the high school youth from CommunityGrows and present the final 2 designs, work with them to gain input and feedback, and collectively select the final design concept. Once this is decided the students will complete the build out of the pavilion and install on site in 2019. Stay tuned for more details!

The BEETS: Not Just Gardeners

BEETS Build 2

In addition to their culinary, resume designing, gardening, and teaching skills, the BEETS added construction to their accomplishments this month!

BEETS Build 1

Our Rosa Parks Garden Educator Anna led the BEETS in the build, explaining about how ensure the wood was flush and how to properly use the drill.

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BEETS Build 5

For many, this was a new experience — but for others, their skill at construction earned them the nickname Drill Sergeant (we appreciate the pun).

BEETS Build 10

Did you know that redwood is the best wood to use on raised garden boxes? It is less susceptible to rot and can last as long as 20 years.

BEETS Build 3

Though the planter was complete, the work was not done yet!

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BEETS Build 4

The BEETS team then shoveled compost and soil and moved it into the newly finished planter box, in preparation for the following week’s community planting.

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All in all, it was another productive day outside for the BEETS!

We want to give a special thanks to Broadmoor Landscape Supply in South San Francisco for donating the compost, to Ashby Lumber for donating the lumber, and to U-Haul for donating a truck for the afternoon.

Goodbye to Adrian and Melissa

Adrian and Melissa at a BEETS Orientation

After many years with CommunityGrows, we are saying goodbye to two of our wonderful staff members, Adrian and Melissa. 

While we are sad to see them go, we are so grateful to them both for all of their hard work and dedication! Read on to learn about their time at CG.

The Many Hats of Adrian


Adrian wore many hats at CommunityGrows: first as a garden educator, then as a cooking instructor for our Seed to Mouth program, and ultimately overseeing our sites and environmental education programming as Garden Programs Manager.

He took an active and sincere interest in the well-being of his students and encouraged them throughout each session, making him well liked by both the students and staff at John Muir. He shared with us the following story from one of his lessons:

Once, at a Magic Zone class, we harvested fingerling potatoes from the garden. Mwane, a second grader, told me that he was going to go home and cook them with his mother and that they would be the best potatoes in the world.  I told him that he had done a great job helping to grow them and that maybe one day he would be a gardener, which I intended to be a career suggestion.  He looked at me very seriously and replied confidently,  “I already am.”

It is moments like these that demonstrate the confidence that our program is instilling in our youth. These moments are hard to quantify in terms of metrics but are truly priceless in their measurement of the impact we are making.

— Adrian Almquist

His presence at Koshland Garden as both educator and gardener will be missed!


In addition to their roles at CommunityGrows, both Melissa and Adrian were mentors at John Muir Elementary, kept active with the Koshland community gardeners, and often worked with volunteers at weekend events, making Koshland Park and Learning Garden a beautiful and relaxing place for everyone to enjoy.

Melissa in Action

Melissa and a goat
Melissa New Lib 2015
BEETS Pie Ranch 2016
Melissa BEETS Ropes Course

Melissa was also deeply involved at both CommunityGrows and John Muir Elementary, having led our BEETS teen program for four years before becoming Director of Programs in 2017.

Her dedication and leadership of the BEETS program inspired students to set and meet personal and professional goals. At the end of each session, Melissa asked the teens to reflect on their experience participating in the program. 

To me, the garden represents a place for growth and new beginnings. It’s a place where someone can go to learn something new and meet new people. What I enjoyed most was watching things change. I liked seeing how much progress plants make even if we don’t usually see them growing in reality. Like garden, our lives are constantly changing. We don’t recognize change in ourselves but it’s there. We just need to look back to see how much we’ve grown. I think I’ve really improved on my ability to express my opinions. I’ve learned that being part of a group requires a lot of listening and observing, which I’ve improved on greatly. Ultimately, I’ve learned that working doesn’t necessarily need to be just “working” if you find the balance of friendship and responsibility.

— Gene, 2016-2017 BEETS Participant

Garden reflections from Melissa’s students showed steady growth and a shift of perspective when compared to their responses from the start of the program. Her guidance and support made a huge impact during Melissa’s time with CommunityGrows.

Melissa pumpking carginv 2017
Melissa nastertiums
Summer 2013 graduation
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Thank you, Adrian and Melissa! We wish you both the best!

BEETS Grow in Our Neighborhood

Buchanan Mall

Spring is in the air and, with all the sunshine, our gardens are flourishing! But the sun isn’t the only reason the gardens are looking so fresh — the BEETS have been out in the gardens planting, watering, weeding, and cleaning to make our spaces more healthy and inviting.


Who are the BEETS? Beyond our gardening and cooking programs for younger students, we also offer teens the chance to earn money as they learn life and job skills, experience nature, explore issues of food equity and environmental justice, and improve both their personal well-being and that of their neighborhood and communities.

But our BEETS program extends beyond just a paid after-school position: it’s an opportunity to become a part of a supportive team while working toward personal and professional goals.

Learn more about their stories from a volunteer’s perspective as Alana shares her experience working with the BEETS:

“Alongside the flourishing of the kale and fava beans we planted, I’ve witnessed a different kind of flourishing in the BEETS participants.”

As a volunteer with CommunityGrows’ young adults program, I joined the participants in tending local gardens to help plants grow. My greatest delight in being a part of the program, however, has been in watching the young adults themselves grow. And as I move on to my next chapter in my life, I’m grateful to look back and realize how much the BEETS have helped me grow.

Alongside the flourishing of the kale and fava beans we planted, I’ve witnessed a different kind of flourishing in the BEETS participants. One BEET, after gaining deeper insight into our food system through the program, decided to become a vegetarian. Another makes significant progress in improving her English, an important step toward her goal of becoming a computer programmer. A third inspires me as he continues to save up for a car and ultimately to become a mechanic. All of the BEETS exhibit maturity in following through on their responsibilities as well as thoughtfulness in their discussions.

“The BEETS introduced me to a beautiful side of San Francisco I had never seen before.”

I began volunteering with CommunityGrows to gain hands-on experience with urban agriculture and to give back to the community. To my surprise, the support I received through the BEETS program helped me expand into new areas of personal growth. The BEETS introduced me to a beautiful side of San Francisco I had never seen before. From tucked-away community gardens just blocks from my home, to the nationally-famous garden within the Giants’ Stadium at AT&T Park, alongside the BEETS I learned about the thriving urban agriculture community in San Francisco.

Perhaps most importantly to me, though, was the inspiration and support I drew from the BEETS as I prepared and applied for grad school in a new field – a scary risk for someone in the middle of her career. The struggle of studying for tests, researching scholarships, and searching to find the right path forward in life was made easier because I was able to share and learn from the BEETS, who were all facing similar challenges. Though I’m now moving on to get that degree the young adults motivated me to keep pursuing, I’ll carry with me the memories of these inspiring youth and the lessons they taught me.

— Alana, BEETS Program Volunteer 2017-18

BEETS Giants

We’d like to take a moment to appreciate all that Alana, BEETS Program Manager Osceola, and the BEETS themselves have accomplished through this session — from their work in the garden to cooking at the Giants Garden at AT&T Park, to touring Alcatraz, and helping teach younger students. This group has already had an active year, and it’s not over yet!