Community Grows

Rating: 4.96 stars   46 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  

24 people found this review helpful

we manage a public and affordable housing development that has benefitted from working with the hayes valley neighborhood parks group. our residents are sometimes overlooked and/or alienated given the socioeconomic status of many people that live around them, and the parks group has helped them stay connected and involved.

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

their ability to engage and serve our public and affordable housing residents in healthy and fun activities.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

26 people found this review helpful

I've lived next door to the Koshland Park garden, part of the Hayes Valley parks group, for the past four years. In my time living next door to the garden I have often volunteered at the garden clean ups. It is great have a garden in the neighborhood - the flowers and butterflies and birds are great to have in the city. The park also provides gardening and compost classes for the neighborhood kids.

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

the community. The kids in the neighborhood benefit from the knowledge they learn about organic produce and composting. Everyone in the neighborhood also benefits from the beauty of the garden.

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

the work days.

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

very friend and accepting.

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

do more community outreach educating and create more green spaces in the city.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

23 people found this review helpful

I have been following this organization since its inception more than a decade ago. The force behind it is Barbara Wenger. She has renovated two parks on my street and been instrumental in the development and stewardship of two others. Over the years she has helped thousand of people young and old with her Peace project culminating with the installation of the Peace Wall on Page and Buchanan streets. Through out these years she has always had a special concern for youth, and the environment. You only need to look at the teaching garden at Koshland park to see how important it is to her. Her organization is embedded at John Muir Elementary school. HVNPG pays the salaries of garden educators who teach all grades, an expansive curriculum based in the garden. I have watched her in cramped home office working seven days a week for years on end -for no pay. She deserves awards, recognition, and everything good.

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

daily, I live across the street from the Peace Wall, its wonderful to watch people stop and look at the tiles and read the plaques. I hear the laughter of children coming from the playground. Years ago it was the domain of drug dealers and prostitutes. I see school children from up and down the street accompanied by teachers going the park. Local gardeners tending their plots at Rose Page mini park, and the community plots at koshland park. Youth playing basketball in a safe environment. Children from Hayes Valley South development crossing the street to play at the park.

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

A chance to do something for others for no pay just to help.

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

friendly, devoted, and tireless. Everyone of them, Barbara, her staff Nora and Elokin, and the members of the board, and a core group of volunteers from local neighborhood groups.

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

...fund full time gardeners/educators in the parks. Particularly on weekends and summers to engage youth. ..teach round-the-years seasonal classes at Hayes Valley South, about healthy eating from home grown food - for adults and children. ...teach classes about healthy lifestyles by being engaged outdoors in physical ativities, starting in the parks and then expanding,to the city. ...teaching people how to start and tend mini-gardens on their doorstep, or window sills. ...teach how to shop for produces. ...teach how to substitute fresh food for commercially prepared food for school lunches. Have a street level office, for the neighborhood to drop-in for information, classes, referrals, and volunteering.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

26 people found this review helpful

I moved into this neighborhood in 1991. At that time, there were huge problems that made it difficult to feel safe and secure living here. We had drug dealers, prostitutes, nightly gun fire, graffiti, robberies and muggings. It was frightening as I walked the block from the bus stop to my home after work each night. Koshland park was also a nightmare; a regular shooting gallery with drug abusers who left their used needles in the playground, prostitutes who carried on their "business" in this lowly lit refuge. Fortunately, there were also people that lived in this neighborhood who cared for one another and looked out for each others welfare. Thus began the building of the strength that has become the wonderful HVNPG. I am witness to the vast improvements that have taken place over the years. Our park is well maintained, fun, safe and a constant pleasure to visit. I have met wonderful and colorful neighbors and have had the opportunity to be involved with many beautiful neighborhood activities. I can not conclude without mentioning the "peace wall" which for me symbolizes the hope that has survived and prevailed in this neighborhood through the years. Continued success to the HVNPG - thanks to all for making this one of the best neighborhoods in our magical city.

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

the way it has improved my neighborhood.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

21 people found this review helpful

I give this group the highest rating that is possible. Especially for Barbara Wenger and her undying commitment to this neighborhood and her efforts over the last many years to care for this Park.

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

Koshland Park

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

Not run this organization. They are doing fine without my micro-management

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

working with them in producing music for the entire neighborhood

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

varied and commited

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

They would contribute at least 10 millions times more effort

Ways to make it better...

My experience has been great

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

raising funds to pay salaries

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

Please help them raise additional finding

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

25 people found this review helpful

While I don't live in this neighborhood I have frequent occasion to be in the area of Koshland Park. I have seen it evolve to a down trodden place to an thing of beauty. It is quite heartening to be in the park and watch all the activity that goes on there. I find it especially pleasing to see all the children and young people who are planting, playing, and otherwise enjoying the benefit of nature in the middle of the city. The tiled wall couldn't be more pleasing to the eye.

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

The involvement of the neighborhood

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

Watching just what dedicated people can accomplish

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

Motivated to bring positive change to the neighborhood and the city

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

Feel more secure that they could continue and expand their services

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

25 people found this review helpful

The hayes valley neighborhood parks group does great work. My favorite is the mural on the park wall. Great job involving neighborhood. BEAUTIFUL addition. Beautifying and instilling greater sense of community. BRAVO Sharon Brooks

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

the beautification of neighborhood

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

Keep up the good work

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

Watching how the community becomes closer and more involved.

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

Lovely people

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

Create neighborhoodsustainable gardens to feed the many low income folks in the area.

Ways to make it better...

can't thnk of a thing here

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

More funding needed to expand on their work.

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

Keep on truckin'

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

28 people found this review helpful

Barbara Wenger is an outstanding parks representative since she is both an outstanding neighbor and community liaison. She is interested in all things that contribute to the improvement of Hayes Valley. Personally, she has provided excellent advice and counsel to neighbors who want to see the former UC Extension returned to the public as a historic monument that is used for higher public good. She is generous, thoughtful and a very good leader. I hope she is successful with her efforts to achieve a great nonprofit review!

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

beautification of the parks

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

retire happy

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

personal contact

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

extremely professional

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

change the world!

Ways to make it better...

there are more Barbara Wengers

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

everyday concerns that get in the way

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

this is a mission of love. We must keep those who love in action for the benefit of us all.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-12-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

25 people found this review helpful

Warm, welcoming garden. It's great that there are so many ways the Koshland COmmunity Learning Garden is used: elementary school classes, youth development & green job preparation, community events, and individual garden plots. The garden is an asis in the lower haight/hayes valley.

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

the community.

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

nurture it.

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

the joy it instills in children about gardening and food growing.

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

committed, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, welcoming, and accessible.

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

create similar gardens around the city and beyond, with well-paid staff.

Ways to make it better...

I could have continued with more involvement.

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

getting stable and increased funding.

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

I always feel good about my visits to the garden.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

24 people found this review helpful

I am thankful to be a part of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS Group. From time to time I volunteer with them and enjoy working with the kids that they mentor. I've done two sessions with their Rangers group and I've seen the kids interact creatively with each other, be it working individually or as a team.

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

what we can accomplish in an afternoon in the garden.

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

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

being of use, meeting the staff, the neighbors and the kids.

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

positive, taught me things about gardening,and were diverse.

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

empower communities that are under served how to grow their own food, eat better, and be able to use their grocery money on other things they need in their lives.

Ways to make it better...

My experience was perfect. I would love to have more opportunities to volunteer.

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

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

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

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