Tag Archives: #Koshland

Koshland and COVID-19

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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


Community Barbecue

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” Edward Everett Hale. On July 10th, 2019, CommunityGrows had the honors to give back to our community and it could not have gone any better. Thank you to the amazing community members and other organizations that were able to attend the event, more than one hundred adults and kids attended. We had different stations for the kids to enjoy with there parents or the care takers that came with them. From “bean bag toss” to “planting seeds that they found in the fruits”, the kids enjoyed the games as well as the food. We had the privilege to feed and engage with kids from Up on Top and Beacon. Beacon is the YMCA Summer program therefore we had a couple of groups representing different schools.


We also would like to thank all the community members that came out to help celebrate the community. Thank you to the CommunityGrows staff and board members who did everything, thank you for giving back!


Please look out for next year’s Community BBQ, you don’t want to miss it!

National Rebuilding Day 2019: SheBuilds for the Community!

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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!

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
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National Rebuilding Day 2019: Showing Our Love at Koshland

Second site visit for Rebuilding Together SF project.
Second site visit for Rebuilding Together SF project.

Rebuilding Together SF, SheBuilds. This April, Rebuilding Together San Francisco (RTSF) is working with CommunityGrows to build new garden plots, create a garden classroom, and revitalize the space at Koshland Community Park and Learning Garden. Since 1989, Rebuilding Together SF has “provide[d] home repair and renovation programs for their San Francisco neighbors, nonprofit organizations and community spaces. The work [they] do creates safer and healthier environments,” and this year will be including CommunityGrows as a nonprofit partner as part of their SheBuilds initiative.

All Women, No Boundaries. Each year, RTSF hosts an annual event called National Rebuilding Day during which they engage 300-500 volunteers over three weekends in April to make improvements on homes and community spaces around San Francisco. The SheBuilds programs complements the National Rebuilding Day by mobilizing women from different skilled trades, local companies, and partners to tackle projects with volunteer teams powered by women. CommunityGrows is very excited to work with RTSF and the SheBuilds volunteers to revitalize and increase the community and green space at Koshland!

© Rebuilding Together SF (SheBuilds campaign)
© Rebuilding Together SF (SheBuilds campaign)

The Project. Since the project scoping began back in 2018, the goal for the She Builds/ National Rebuilding Day is to increase the existing green space at Koshland and to build on and revitalize the awesome space that is already there. With the help of the SheBuilds volunteers, we will plant new trees, native plants, and pollinator plants in the underutilized SW corner of the garden; we will build new planter boxes for community gardeners; and we will create a new garden classroom for the students in our Environmental Education and Seed-to-Mouth programs. The project will create a space that will not only be educational for our students, but can be enjoyed neighbors and community members as well!

Pruning and clearing some space for new raised planter boxes!
Pruning and clearing some space for new raised planter boxes!

Our Thanks. This process has definitely been a team effort and we are very grateful for the support, time, and work that all of the partners have put into this project. So with that on our minds, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank a few people:

  • The student team from the Architecture & Community Design program at the University of San Francisco for creating the original plans and ideas on how to build out the space in the SW corner;
  • Our amazing liaison at Rec and Park for answering all of our questions, coming out to multiple site visits, and just generally for being amazing;
  • Rebuilding Together for guiding us through the process and providing the volunteers, materials, and knowledge to make this project possible – and to the CommunityGrows team of project leaders and skilled volunteers for working so hard on the planning and organizing;
  • To PG&E and the ReLeaf team for providing CommunityGrows with a grant to support this project;
  • And to our amazing educators at Koshland, whom we could not do this without!

There’s still a lot of work to be done before the build day, but we are excited and thankful for the amazing team surrounding us and everything that has been accomplished so far!

2019 Youth BEETS and YAX Build a Mediation Pavilion

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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.

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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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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!

Bain & Co. Brings a Green Thumb to our Garden


Last Friday, Bain and Co. joined CommunityGrows for a workday in Koshland garden! Though a bit overcast, the team jumped into the task list for the day and gave the garden a makeover, just in time for the start of classes. Read more about their workday below!

The day started with a group activity led by Garden Programs Manager, Anna. One of her favorite activities to do with the kids, Anna had everyone close their eyes and smell an herb as it was passed around the circle. Once everyone had the scent, they went into the garden to find the mystery plant. The activity not only gives students a tour of the garden space, but it also sharpens their observational skills. The team was able to identify and find both the basil and thyme! Well done, everyone!


Hard at Work!

The group then broke into 3 teams to tackle some garden projects. Two teams worked on weeding and clearing sections of the garden to make room for new seedlings while a third team worked on pruning the fruit trees and raspberry bushes. We also had a few volunteers sifting and flipping compost! 

The workday ended with everyone planting lettuce starts and peas in the newly cleared beds and covered by the newly sifted compost! By the end of the workday, the garden had a complete facelift. Everything looks beautiful and ready for the Fall classes.


Thank you to Bain and Co. for volunteering in the garden and supporting our programs! We hope to see you in the garden again soon! 

Volunteer Highlight: Autodesk Comes to Koshland


It was a perfect Friday to get out of the office and into the gardens! Autodesk joined CommunityGrows last week for a workday at Koshland to get the garden in shape for the upcoming semester.

After a round of introductions, the team participated in a game led by Gardens Program Manager Anna. One of her favorite lessons to do with the kids, Anna asked everyone to close their eyes and smell two mystery herbs as they were passed around the circle. Once everyone had smelled the herbs, they went into the garden to try to find the plants. The lesson not only gives students a tour of the garden space, but also sharpens their observational skills. The team was able to identify and find both the thyme and lavender!


The team was then split into three groups to tackle a range of projects in the garden:


Team 1: Soil Samplers

CommunityGrows is in the early stages of a project to create in-ground beds in this underused corner of the garden. Autodesk helped us with that process by collecting soil samples, a task which would have taken a single staff member 1-2 hours to complete on their own! We greatly appreciate your help!

Team 2: Compost Turners

At Koshland, there are three marked bins to help students understand the process of composting. One bin is ready to use compost, one is breaking down, and one is “fresh” material. In order for compost to break down, it has to be turned, which Autodesk did for CG on Friday! The fresh compost was then spread into the garden plots, setting the stage for the students to plant!


Team 3: The Weeders

Fall is a time for harvesting, and the plants from the summer were bolting and ready to be pulled. This team help weed over half of the garden plots, clearing these beds for the students, who will be planting as part of the garden class. This has been on the to-do list for quite some time. Having multiple volunteers working together made the job go quickly and the garden looks beautiful!

On behalf of CommunityGrows, we want to thank all the volunteers for their hard work in the garden! Your work made a huge impact on the garden and set our students and staff up for a great semester!


It was a great way to end the week, especially when students from John Muir Elementary school came to explore the garden towards the end of the workday!

Thank you Autodesk, we appreciate your support!

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!