Tag Archives: Environmental Education

Classes at Alemany Farm

BEST-IMG_0675-SFWWednesday, March 2, 2016 CommunityGrows started teaching classes at Alemany Farm thanks to a grant from Aetna Foundation Local Roots Program. Judy Jue and David Banks brought their youth from Vision Academy to tour the farm. They were able to taste mint and sample nectar from pineapple sage flowers, smell geraniums and rosemary. Adrian Almquist, CommunityGrows Garden Programs Manager talked about bees, and help the youth identify many plants and flowers. At the end of the class they were all able to harvest lettuce and take it home.

We’re so excited to have expanded our programming into the Outer Mission/Excelsior ! Since the start of this year, Adrian has been meeting with members of theThe Friends of Alemany Farm, Rec and Park representatives and community members to build a strong, community-based garden and cooking program based at the Farm. We’re excited to watch it grow!


Afterschool with Rosa Park ExCEL

IMG_5700On February 29, 2016 Tierra Morgan, assistant with the after-school Rosa Parks ExCEL group from the Buchanan YMCA, brought her youth to Rosa Parks Garden for their weekly after-school garden class. CommunityGrows Assistant Garden Educator Cha’Shay Woldridge started the class by talking about the stages of development from seed to flower, and pollination. Two of our Spring BEETS, Adrian Valencia and Keyonce Mitchell, helped with the class and read parts of the story What is Pollination? by Bobbie Kalman.
IMG_5722Then the class moved to a trough in the garden and prepared it for seedlings. IMG_5750IMG_5778They dug out all the weeds, added rich composted soil, and buried the seeds. IMG_5773Some of the youth also made seedling soil blocks, reading them for planting. Others filled watering cans and watered the plants in the garden.IMG_5738 IMG_5797All sorts of beautiful flowers were planted. Now we have to wait and see what will spring up!

For more photos check out our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.

John Muir Students Origami and Photsynthesis

On Wednesday, February 17, 2016 Mr. Tamsky’s 4th grade bi-lingual Spanish class at John Muir Elementary School came to Koshland Park for their afternoon lesson. IMG_5600Adrian Almquist, CommunityGrows’ Garden Programs Manager began to cover two difficult lessons—tackling photosynthesis and learning how to make origami cranes.

In an effort to understand photosynthesis, Adrian reminded the youth that photosynthesis is how plants eat and make their own food. Since the plants don’t have to move around to find food and they stay in one place, plants can make their food as long as they have three things. The three things are Carbon Dioxide, Water, and Light. Here’s what photosynthesis looks like: Carbon Dioxide + Water + Light —-> Sugar + Oxygen. IMG_5632An easy way to remember this is Cows Eat Wet Grass Outside…so CO2 + Energy + water –> Glucose + Oxygen.

Here’s how it works: Plants breathe, just like us.  They even have little openings that can look like mouths, but they are too small for us to see without a microscope.  When we breathe in, we want to breath in oxygen.  Plants want to breathe in Carbon Dioxide.  Plants also drink.  This is why you need to water plants or they will die.  They use their roots to suck water up into their bodies, and their little mouths to breath in the carbon dioxide.  Once they have both of these things, all they need is light.  Leaves are made up of a bunch of tiny cells, where this happens.  Inside the cells are tiny little things called chloroplasts.  Chloroplasts are what makes leaves green, and they are also what takes the carbon dioxide, the water, and the light, and turns them into sugar and oxygen. The sugar is then used by the plants for food, and the oxygen is breathed out into the atmosphere.  This process as a whole is “photosynthesis.”. Here is a great website that explains this for kids. IMG_5606If doing a short lesson on photosynthesis was not challenging enough, everyone also got a chance to make origami cranes. Adrian was very patient in leading the students through the various steps. IMG_5615It was impressive to see all of them working hard and trying to pay attention. Miraculously, by the end of class, all had finished their cranes and proudly displayed them as they left the garden. IMG_5630Here is a demonstration of how to make an origami crane.IMG_5624

We’re at the Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point!

9.17.15-WMBGC-Community-Grows-(22-of-116)Thanks to a grant from the Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF), CommunityGrows is honored to be working at the Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point at the Willie Mays Clubhouse. We started teaching garden classes on September 3rd once a week, and soon we hope to be cooking there with produce from the garden.

9.17.15-WMBGC-Community-Grows-(24-of-116)The Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point, established in 2008, is a 2000 square-foot organic teaching garden and kitchen program and the first after-school program in the country to become a founding affiliate of The Edible Schoolyard Project, which started in Berkeley by Alice Waters.

Working with the Willie Mays Clubhouse we hope to involve the youth in all aspects of tending the garden – along with preparing, serving and eating the food – as a way to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables and develop lifelong healthy eating habits. The goal of the Edible Schoolyard at Hunters Point is to be the healthiest place for youth in San Francisco!
9.17.15-WMBGC-Community-Grows-(21-of-116)The Willie Mays Clubhouse, located in Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP), is where alcohol, tobacco and junk food are the most commonly sold products. Plus, only 5% of the food sold is fresh produce. As a result, BVHP residents are hospitalized more than residents of other neighborhoods for almost every disease, including diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Adrian Almquist, our CommunityGrows Gardens Program Manager, has been working with the youth to harvested lots of peppers and tomatoes, which youth have been taking home. They have also been harvesting Gravenstein apples from a garden tree and serving slices for snack. Youth planted sunflowers, beans, lettuce and carrots together. Lesson have been about life cycles, food webs, and the importance of pollinators with a focus on bees. After the lesson, one 2nd grader told Adrian, “I know now that bees are really important for the environment”.
9.17.15-WMBGC-Community-Grows-(25-of-116)We look forward to continue working here and supporting Bayview Hunters Point.

Photos for this blog post were taken by Laura Turner, an intern with us for a few days, sponsored by Momenta Photography Workshop-San Francisco. Laura is an undergraduate journalism student at American University in Washington D.C. Her photography website is here. See more of her photos from Willie Mays Clubhouse here.

Salad Day and Gardening at Rosa Parks

IMG_3163On September 2, 2015 Rosa Parks Elementary kicked off their school year with a planting in the garden and a salad day in the cafeteria. New CommunityGrows Garden Assistant Cha’Shay Woldridge, with the assistance of Garden Program Manager Adrian Almquist, helped Ms. Wong’s class get started weeding and planting in their plot in the lower garden. Jay Jordan, our CommunityGrows Garden Educator helped out preparing and serving salad in the cafeteria.


William Cobb Elementary School Garden Workday

4.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_0826Under a beautiful blue sky with billowing cumulus clouds, great volunteers came out to help with a workday at Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary School’s garden on Saturday, April 11, 2015. 4.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_0819A wonderful group of teens from University High School, joined families and staff from the Western Addition Family Resource Center and the YMCA to help spruce up the Cobb Garden. 4.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_08064.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_0809Projects accomplished were weeding all the beds and paths, organizing the shed, removing trash, trimming the kale, harvesting sorrel, organizing clay pots and watering the beds. 4.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_0817

4.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_0816This was a great help in keeping the garden in tip-top shape for our Wednesday after-school Garden Club taught by staff member Ezekiel McCarter. Youth attend a one hour Garden Class where they will learn hands-on science in the outdoor classroom of a garden. Curriculum is aligned with grade-level CA Science Standards. In addition they receive instruction on basic garden maintenance. Youth can harvest the fruits and vegetables they have grown throughout the program cycle to eat during class and/or take home with them.4.11.15-CobbWorkday_IMG_0815
A whiteboard in the garden had the title Garden Giants (which looked a little like Garden Grants) and had the quote: “We give this garden…” with answers written down: water, seeds, care, life, respect, time, love, health, and color and art. Thank you Western Addition Family Resource Center, the YMCA and University High School for coming out and making this such a great workday!

Science Night at Rosa Parks Elementary

On Friday evening, March 20, 2015 the Rosa Parks Elementary School Auditorium was filled with excitement as crowds of parents and friends got to view a wide range of science projects done by the students. 3.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_0473The evening began with classroom of students working a science challenge in real time with parents watching patiently as the teacher led them through the assignment.
It was also a night to view interesting experiments and research that the student took on, like Can Music Help your Memory? or Do Arm Swings Matter? or observations about how fast plants grow, or what products protect an apple from turning brown? or how to make silly putty or bouncing balls, or what happens when you freeze different types of water.
3.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_05303.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_05783.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_0499One of the exciting tables was the Science Squad from UCSF who brought three body parts for people to view and touch: a heart, a lung and a brain! Youth got to don purple surgical gloves and touch the organs and ask questions.3.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_0493CommunityGrows was honored to have a table at the event to showcase the two gardens at Rosa Parks. Staff Kelly ErnstFriedman, Director of Programs and Serena Padilla, Garden Educator at Rosa Parks, talked with interested parents and children from the program. Flower, herb and vegetable seeds were available for the taking. It was great to talk with the parents about the science curriculum we use in our garden classes and let them know more about CommunityGrows.3.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_05503.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_0588
3.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_05673.20.15-RP-ScienceFair_IMG_0608For more photos see our Flickr Photostream here.

MagicZone and Decomposers!

3.11.15-Gamble-MagicZone_IMG_1655On Wednesday, March 11, 2015 our after-school youth from MagicZone came to Koshland Park for a lesson in decomposers. A decomposer is part of the food chain. When something dies, like a plant or an animal, a decomposer breaks down dead plants and animals. Decomposers turn dead material into good fertilized soil. Worms are decomposers. Their job is to break down things like dead leaves and grass. Their waste makes the soil healthy. Having worms in your garden is a good thing!
3.11.15-Gamble-MagicZone_IMG_1680These young students, who have been with CommunityGrows for a few years, were already very familiar with the garden and loved the opportunity to sift through the compost to find worms, rolly pollies and other decomposers.
Two of our BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens), Aquarius Porter and Cesar Martinez, worked with the youth to help them sift through the compost and find the wiggly creatures.
3.11.15-Gamble-MagicZone_IMG_16863.11.15-Gamble-MagicZone_IMG_1692To see more photos, visit our CommunityGrows Flickr Photostream here.

Haiku with Rosa Parks ExCEL and the SF Foundation

2.9.15-RPExCEL-TSSF_IMG_9939On February 9, 2015 the Rosa Parks ExCEL afterschool program got a visit from the San Francisco Foundation Environmental Initiative, lead by Francesca Vietor, Becky Weinberg and Tracy Zhu.

Serena Padilla, our Garden Educator, led the class through a lesson about haikus, poetry, and other stories. They youth wrote about what they were grateful for in the garden. Some of them started making up riddles about different things they find in the garden. Some of them performed their haikus or read their stories very passionately.

Then the youth harvested leeks and they had a blast.
Here are some of their writings:
“I am grateful for the animals that help the garden. Bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, ladybugs, earthworms.”- Kallie, 4th grade

“I am grateful for the plants and the little tiny ants.
Plants give us air and we breathe it everywhere.
I love the lemon trees and the buzzing bees.
I’m so grateful for the garden,
Oh, what a lovely garden!” – Sophia, 4th grade

“I appreciate tasting the garden foods. The garden is life.” – Johnathan, 3rd grade

“Life is awesome here. I’m thankful for all the bugs here. I love to look and research them. I’ll try to name them all:
rolley polley, worms, cockroach, spiders, ladybugs, and more. I like to see how they live.” – Trevonte, 4th grade

Magic Zone in Koshland Garden

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Magic Zone youth joined us for their weekly afternoon class in Koshland Garden. After settling in our garden circle and doing a short quiet meditation, Janine Gee, one of our long standing volunteers at CommunityGrows read a story entitled Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell. Angie Lemus, one of our current BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens), helped to get supplies ready from the garden shed.
Then everyone moved up to the garden to plant lima beans, taking turns to dig deep into the soil with a hoe.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was finding a hug persimmon on our tree in the orchard.
After everyone got a chance to plant and hoe, they filled water buckets and moved around the garden watering everything, finding bugs, and picking raspberries.
Magnifying glasses came out to better explore. Ending their time in the garden many of them took up brooms and swept the garden stage and steps, gathered loose tools throughout the garden, and returned water buckets to the shed.
The class ended with everyone sharing their appreciations.