Tag Archives: #highlights

2018 Highlights! (and what we’re looking forward to in 2019)

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“Today in the garden it was bright and sunny and so I was happy” – 4th grade student during garden reflection at the end of class. 

We are so grateful to our wonderful partners, dedicated staff, curious students, enthusiastic parents, advocates in the Green Team, generous supporters, and all of our committed volunteers!

We couldn’t do this type of work without people like you! On behalf of our students and staff, we thank you all for supporting our programs this past year! Here are our highlights from 2018 and things we’re looking forward to in 2019!

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Anna Luberoff / Garden Programs Manager

  • Highlight of 2018: During one class, a butterfly just landed so perfectly and gently on a kid’s hand. The look of awe and delight on his face was magical, and the whole class just froze in this perfect moment to witness a miracle. When it flew off, it felt like a spell was broken – like we had all been part of something truly beautiful and mysterious.
  • Looking Forward to in 2019: Digging deeper with my 4th and 5th graders into how our garden operates as part of a larger food system. I am excited to talk and engage with them more about the role the garden plays in our school, our community, our neighborhood, and our city, and to push them to think critically about the limitations of our current food systems.
  • I am also excited to have the BEETS working on and activating the Buchanan Mall I have a lot of hopes and dreams for the space and can’t wait to see how Debbie and the BEETS transform it!
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Yaya Persing / Garden and Nutrition Educator

  • Highlight of 2018:  finding a snail in the garden with five Kindergarteners who were unable to contain their excitement. They got the rest of their class so that we could observe the snail’s traits together for a while. Someone spontaneously started to imitate the snails movements, which seamlessly gave way to calling out other animals and moving like them too. One unsuspecting snail gave us all 30 minutes of awe and giggles in the garden. Kids are the coolest.
  • Looking Forward to in 2019: Buchanan Mall community events we are planning, especially Valentine’s day in the mall. Love is like the plants in our garden: resilient, it’s everywhere once you start looking, sometimes you can’t see it but it’s just getting ready to  bloom, and we can all be part of it!!!
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Emily Dial / Garden and Nutrition Educator

  • Highlight of 2018: serving salad to students, teachers, and staff on salad days has been a definite highlight. Everyone gets so excited and it’s great to see students try to identify foods that grow in the garden.
  • Looking Forward to in 2019:I can’t wait to meet and teach the kindergarten through 3rd grade students at John Muir! I’m sure they have plenty to teach me as well.
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Debbie Harris / BEETS Program Manager

  • Highlight of 2018:  
    -Establishing a full crew before 2019. We have ten students enrolled from 4 different high schools;
    -Bringing the BEETS to work with YAX and Kaili Gordan on the Mobile Meditation Pavilion;
    -Meeting with Citizen Film to help plan events on Buchanan Mall.
  • Looking Forward to in 2019:
    – The BEETS camping trip
    – Alcatraz Garden tour
    – Youth Speaks

 

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Karen Lally / Community Engagement Coordinator

  • Highlight of 2018: The MLK Jr. Day of Service volunteer event. It was fun to work with the African American Arts and Culture Complex, Citizen Film, and 3.9 Art Collective  doing projects with the volunteers in the garden. There were performances, different vol. stations, art projects, and a community lunch at the end. Plus it was a beautiful day!
  • Looking Forward to in 2019: This year I’m looking forward to community workdays, salad days in the garden, and meeting new folks as they come through our volunteer program!
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Kelly ErnstFriedman / Executive Director

  • Highlight of 2018: Meeting and getting to know prospective BEETS in the group interview. Interviews can be nerve wracking but Debbie created a welcoming and fun space for the teens to get to know each and learn about the program. It was really inspiring to hear what drew each of them to apply and what they hoped to accomplish in the next few months and also later in life. It was also really awesome to see how well they connected with each other, even though they were meeting for the first time.
  • Looking Forward to in 2019: Young people really do have so much to teach us and I can’t wait to get to know the BEET cohort better and see what they will accomplish this year. We have a lot of exciting opportunities to connect with residents on the Buchanan Mall and at Koshland Garden, and I think these teens are going to do an amazing job connecting with the community and sharing what all they are learning about food and environmental equity.

2018 Recap: Summer in the Gardens

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“I want to be kind and protect all of the creatures in the garden! I love creatures!” — a student who affectionately referred to all insects in the garden as “creatures” and who may, one day, be an entomologist.

Fun in the Sun

CommunityGrows had a wonderful summer! We enjoyed working with youth from partner programs including the Village Project, Up on Top, Magic Zone, Willie Mays, Western Addition Beacon, Crissy Field Center, Buchanan YMCA, and Hayward Rec. We look forward to  an eventful Fall!

“At the beginning of class I was afraid of bugs! I’m not afraid anymore” — one student’s personal highlight following a garden class.

In total, we worked with about 120 students, learning about the life-cycle of plants, how to create healthy snacks, and harvesting beet plants for our BEETS Red Velvet Cake ice cream flavor at Salt and Straw!

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A special thank you to all of our partners, volunteers, and educators who made this summer a success!

CG Volunteers: Always in Bloom

Buchanan Mall Workday – 6.9.2017
Buchanan Mall Workday – 6.9.2017

In honor of Volunteer Appreciation Week, we want to give a shout-out and a thank you to all of the neighbors, partners, businesses, and friends who have supported CG this past year. We could not do our work without your help, and we appreciate all of our volunteers for their time, their energy, and their commitment to our programs.

Read on to learn more about our volunteers and the different ways to get involved at CommunityGrows.

Buchanan Mall Workday – 4.14.2018
Buchanan Mall Workday – 4.14.2018

Program Volunteers

This year CommunityGrows has had the pleasure of working with 12 dedicated and knowledgeable program volunteers. These volunteers commit at least seven weeks of their time to supporting our programs and can be found in our gardens, offices, and kitchens working on projects that help to support our Environmental Education, Seed to Mouth, and BEETS programs.

CommunityGrows is grateful to have such committed volunteers working with us week after week cooking, weeding, watering, teaching, and working on special projects with our staff and students. Thank you all for your hard work!

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Rosa Parks Salad Day – 3.14.2018

Li started volunteering with CommunityGrows this January, helping to maintain the AAACC Garden and assisting with monthly salad days at Rosa Parks Elementary School.

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 their 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.  

— Alana, BEETS Program Volunteer 2017-2018

Corporate Volunteers

In addition to our individual volunteers, CommunityGrows is fortunate to also have the support of local businesses and companies committed to giving back to community. This past year GAP, Bain & Co., Morgan Stanley, and Starbucks all participated in one or more workday events in our gardens. Their hard work and energy during the summer and early fall helped us to set the students up for a successful year. We appreciate their support!

Buchanan Mall Workday – 4.14.2018
Buchanan Mall Workday – 4.14.2018

Weekend Warriors

Finally, we want to highlight all of our weekend workday and special event volunteers who donate their time to move soil, plant vegetables, pick-up trash, turn compost, and do a host of other jobs in our community garden spaces. We couldn’t do it without you!

 

Photo: Gateway High School Workday – 9.29.2017

Thank you!
MLK Day Workday – 1.15.2018
MLK Day Workday – 1.15.2018
Buchanan Mall Workday – 6.9.2017
Buchanan Mall Workday – 6.9.2017

We are so appreciative for the support and community involvement that you all have shown us. Thank you to all of our volunteers, both past and present!

Buchanan Mall Workday – 4.14.2018
Buchanan Mall Workday – 4.14.2018

A special shout-out to Citizen Film for hosting the latest Buchanan Mall workday on Saturday, April 14th, and to SF Rec & Park, the USF McCarthy Center, the Rosa Parks Senior Center, and all of the volunteers who came out to support and beautify the Mall.

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

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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!

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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.

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Summer 2013 graduation
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Thank you, Adrian and Melissa! We wish you both the best!

Highlighting Advisory Board Member—Catheline Leung

Catheline profile pic for CGCatheline has been on the Advisory Board since June 2016 and is currently a part of the fundraising committee. She is currently the Director of Customer Success at an advertising technology company called Rocket Fuel. She has been managing media planning and buying across a number of industries including retail, financial services, gaming, technology and consumer packaged goods. Catheline has a passion for leveraging her marketing background to drive awareness for social enterprises along with supporting local organizations like CommunityGrows.

What attracted you to CommunityGrows?
: CG’s focus on teaching local youth how to make an impact on their lives and others by making better choices about food/nutrition and the environment.
What are your outside interests? I love to play basketball, rock climb and teach ice skating.
What book are you reading or a book that inspired you? The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
What is your favorite vegetable or fruit? Honeydew, the most underrated fruit in a fruit salad.
Any words of wisdom or word that you live by? “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – ~ George Bernard Shaw