Community Grows

Rating: 4.96 stars   45 reviews

Issues:

Location: 762 Fulton St San Francisco CA 94102-4119 USA

Mission: CommunityGrows is an environmental education program serving high-needs youth, especially those living in public housing in San Francisco.  Youth acquire the necessary skills to live a healthy life through garden education, nutritious cooking and eating, and green jobs training.
Results: Renovation of Rose-Page Mini Park-1999 Renovation of Koshland Park-2002 DPH-7 Principles Project-Infant Mortality Nutrition Grant-2003 Environmental Adventures-Urban kids Outdoors-2004-2005 Community Learning Garden-Koshland Park Upgrades-2007-2008 San Francisco PEACE WALL Installation-2007 John Muir Elementary School Green Schoolyard Project-1996-present BEET Rangers-Teen Stipended Envir Ed & Green Jobs Training-2007-present LetUsGrow Summer Camp-2006-present Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Classes at housing development and at Modern Tea Restaurant-2006-present Park Monthly Workdays-1994-present
Target demographics: low-income, high needs youth, especially those living in public housing in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhoods
Direct beneficiaries per year: 500 youth and 400 adults (from John Muir School, Hayes Valley North & South Redevelopment, YMCA Beacon Center, Park stewards and volunteers for five parks/gardens, families receiving produce, participants at events, workshops, celebrations).
Geographic areas served: Western Addition/Hayes Valley San Francisco
Programs: Koshland Park Community Learning Garden This garden is located in the lower part of Koshland Park, on the corner of Page and Buchanan Streets in San Francisco, CA. The garden is ground zero for most of our programs and serves hundreds of youth and neighbor each year. It is a 54- plot garden shared by the students of John Muir Elementary School and community gardeners. The primary goals of the Community Learning Garden are to help at-risk youth in the community to develop an understanding and passion for nature, to build core academic and interpersonal skills, and to create a sense of community and caring between neighborhood youth and adults. Environmental Education Classes • John Muir Elementary School-Western Addition Beacon Center and Hayes Valley Youth Center Our environmental education classes with John Muir Elementary School offer the Science Content Standards to all students. These classes help students improve their learning through hands-on experience and activities in the outdoor classroom at the Koshland Park Garden. Students also have an opportunity to continue their learning in our afterschool and summer programs. • Garden Workdays with groups, high schools and youth organizations Numerous groups, high schools and youth organizations work with CommunityGrows on a regular basis, bringing their youth to the Koshland Park garden for classes in gardening, composting and park maintenance. BEETS-Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens We are also hoping to continue our successful BEETS Program (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employed Teens), a green jobs training program for low-income, underserved teens in the Western Addition. This is a six-month stipend program that meets every other Saturday for six hours and every Wednesday after school (for 1.5 hours). Some of the activities include workshops on recycling (Norcal Transfer); nutrition (Next Course): composting (Garden for the Environment); bike maintenance (SF Bike Kitchen). There is also organic gardening, harvesting and cooking nutritional foods. There are field trips to Marin Headlands, Crissy Field, Alemany and Green Gulch Farms. SF Recreation and Park Department teaches participants how to use tools and assists them in maintain five local parks. LetUsGrow Summer Camp Begun in 2005, our environmental summer camp, LetUsGrow, offers youth and teen counselors, three weeks of garden fun. Camp started each day with breakfast donated by Kate’s Kitchen, which was followed by fieldtrips, gardening and arts activities and ending with a healthy lunch. Some of our adventures are trips to Green Gulch Farm in Marin County, Alemany Farm in San Francisco, the Arboretum, the Civic Center Farmers Market, painting watercolors of our garden, gardening, composting, and a graduation with our parents. Seed-to-Mouth Cooking Classes Begun in 2005 with weekly classes at Modern Tea Restaurant in Hayes Valley and at the Hayes Valley Housing Complex, CommunityGrows offers neighborhood youth and their families, opportunities to prepare delicious, healthy meals with produce harvested from the Koshland Park Garden. Western Addition Peace Wall at Koshland Park This project, started in 1998, brought together over 1,000 people, members of churches, schools, and community based organizations to learn a peace empowerment process that culminated in painting tiles of what peace means to each person. Through the integration of the visual arts, a curriculum and program was taught that focused on tolerance, understanding, and non-violence, and collectively learned ways to develop positive and proactive solutions to resolving conflicts and defusing anger. The project has been developed and implemented by residents for residents—a true community endeavor.

2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

A wonderful program. Helping urban kids make connections between the environment, nutrition, exercise, and their health is so important. We need hundreds of small community-based groups like this in neigbhborhoods across the county.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

36 people found this review helpful

I moved recently to SF from NYC. Didn't really know anyone and unlike NYC you don't run into people all the time. Started taking my dog to Daniel Koshland Park in the morning and found an awesome community that's really sweet and caring. They make my days start so much better. The day I found a tick on my dog, I freaked out and ran to the park and found folks to help me out. I also found a new home for a poor dog whose owner had passed away and had been trapped in a home by herself for a month. Thank you to the parks group for creating such a wonderful environment!!!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Beautiful, relaxing community park.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

educate others about how to create similar neighbourhoods

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

People helping people no questions asked.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

kind and thoughtful and always read to help

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

educate others on how to build a community and provide more programs and places for this community to hang out in a positive way!

Ways to make it better...

the park was open more often

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

economy and helping those who have lost their jobs.

One thing I'd also say is that...

this community is wonderful!!!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

34 people found this review helpful

HVNPG has made Hayes Valley a wonderful place to live. Their work with the peace wall and the gardens has improved the quality of life for our community, has given us a feeling of pride in our neighborhood and brought us closer together.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the peace wall and the community gardens.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

organize a group to clean up graffiti.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

being part of my neighborhood.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

friendly and ready to help.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

create more community events.

Ways to make it better...

I had more time.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

lack of funds.

One thing I'd also say is that...

Hayes Valley is a lovely, diverse neighborhood for adults and children alike.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-6-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

36 people found this review helpful

HVNPG is a great organization to work with. They made up of are dedicated, passionate, and grounded who make a positive impact to the community. Their staff members Barbara and Nora are absolutely wonderful. They are so organized! My company, Sherwood Design Engineers, had a volunteer event this past weekend April 18th at the Koshland Community Garden in Hayes Valley, SF. We had a wonderful time! There were many activities to do including painting, mulching, composting, weeding, etc. They were so organized and did not overwork the volunteers, which is a great thing b/c many organizations do that.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Koshland Community Garden.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The activities they have for volunteering and the people!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Dedicated, passionate, and organized.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

This organization doesn't need 10 million bucks to do what it does.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

37 people found this review helpful

Close to two thousand commmunity members were given a sense of ownership/belonging to this neighborhood by their contribution of their own artwork to the huge public Peace Wall surrounding Koshland Park. The artworks created arose out of workshops in which individuals of all ages and backgrounds explored nonviolent forms of communication and problem solving and learned emotional literacy, then expressed their unique vision of "peace" on a ceramic tile. I feel that the opportunity provided by HVNPG for people to have their artwork, whatever its technical "finish", permanently and publicly on display is a powerful creator of a sense of self-worth and community membership. My experience of the love, joy, and sincerity brought to their work by the non-professional artists in the tile painting workshops was deeply moving. The unveiling celebration was a beautiful demonstration of community unity as well. Furthermore, whenever I visit the site of the artwork I am struck by the feeling of vibrancy at Koshland Park and the lovely gardens which are very well used by a diverse community. My experience with Barbara Wenger and others at HVNPG was consistently inspiring. These people are extremely dedicated and hard working stewards of their neighborhood and of the environment and I heartily endorse them as a great green non-profit!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

transforming "someone else's place" into "our place"

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

be unable to do as good a job

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

falling in love with the Peace Wall imagery created by non-professional neighborhood artists to celebrate and express hope for harmony in their neighborhood.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

thoughtful, open minded, respectful, intelligent, creative, dynamic, tireless, friendly

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

create repeated opportunities for people who would otherwise not have them to discover self worth and experience themselves as part of positive change; increase the environmental health of the neighborhood; reduce crime and violence.

Ways to make it better...

I had been more relaxed!

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

lack of money, a poor educational system in the California and the country, prejudice

One thing I'd also say is that...

I believe in the power of focusing locally --if you can't work with your neighbors, how can you solve global problems?

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007-6-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

36 people found this review helpful

I love HVNPG! They provide me with the opportunity to get my hands dirty, to watch seeds become plants, to be a part of something bigger.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

myself, the neighborhood, and visitors to the park.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

change nothing- I love it!

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the chance to get my hands dirty- to have a part in the awesome miracle of coaxing seeds into beautiful plants!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

wonderful! So helpful and enthusiastic and dedicated!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change how the Hayes Valley neighborhood views and experiences food.

Ways to make it better...

there was more supervision in the afternoons, hopefully resulting in less vandalism in the garden.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

lack of funds.

One thing I'd also say is that...

the community needs to rally around this wonderful resource.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

Was this review helpful? 
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

26 people found this review helpful

The Hayes Valley parks are jewels in our neighborhood thanks to the efforts of HVNPG. Many thanks to all behind the scenes, most notably Barbara Wenger for making it all happen. It's a blessing for us to have safe, well-kept community areas available. I'm personally grateful not only to have Koshland Park at hand to do my Qigong and Tai Chi in but also to Barbara for initiating our group's original qigong class meetings at the park. They've led to an ongoing qigong and tai chi study group (newcomers are always welcome to drop in at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday mornings.) From the opportunities provided to local kids via the Learning Garden, to the chance to compost kitchen scraps, to the wonderful and inspiring Peace Wall we're all much richer for the under-provided-for HVNPG!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the truly rewarding experience of utilizing the parks.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the fact that they've managed to keep on keeping on. No small feat! Thanks for being there for us!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

enthusiastic, proactive and a pleasure to deal with. The garden staff and volunteers are wonderful and Barbara's a gem.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

25 people found this review helpful

HVNPG is a wonderful addition to the community, and you can tell the kids really love the programs. The staff are smart and devoted to the cause, continually growing and adding programs that help the neighborhood.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

meeting with some of the youth that participate in the organization's programs.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the energy the staff bring to each event and the fun we have.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

energetic and innovative in their approach to the issues they deal with every day.

Ways to make it better...

there was more details and information on the variety of programs they offer - possibly on the website.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

getting the word out there and stable funding streams.

One thing I'd also say is that...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

28 people found this review helpful

Committed caring people who care about our community and who are doing great work at getting kids and young people excited about caring for the parks and gardens in their community. Volunteering for HVNPG was a great experience and I encourage others to discover the great work they are doing right in our own backyard.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the parks and gardens in my own community and in the involvement of young people. It's refreshing to see high schoolers actively involved and taking pride in a community project.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

publicize our work more so the rest of the city is aware of our impact.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

getting my hands dirty.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

friendly, committed, positive, and hard working.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

make San Francisco the capital of urban agriculture and teach San Francisco's youth to be food self-sufficient organic urban farmers of the future.

Ways to make it better...

San Francisco were a warmer climate.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

funding.

One thing I'd also say is that...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

Was this review helpful? 
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

25 people found this review helpful

Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS is an invaluable part of our community. Where there was nothing, now there are beautiful parks and a lovely neighborhood destination. There work raises the spirit of the whole neighborhood, from passers by to the students they work with.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

improve city neighborhoods across the country to make them more sustainable and beautiful and give residents a better quality of live.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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