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  

31 people found this review helpful

I think it is great Barbara's group is stepping up it's focus on youth programming. Under HVNPG stewardship the neighborhood parks have been turned and are looking great again. Now the task is to develop leadership skills in the youth to keep the momentum moving forward.

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

the neighborhood parks and connection with the local schools and kids

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 physical activity.

Ways to make it better...

I didn't still feel the bruise to my tailbone from my last gardening adventure.

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?

2009-3-01

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

28 people found this review helpful

There is no other organization like this in the City! They are instrumental in bringing together community in the context of urban gardening. HVNPG effectively and creatively serves a diverse community while connecting with local schools, public housing, neighborhood groups and local merchants! The neighborhood and the City are richer because of this organization! Not to mention ma many youth that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity get to learn how to grow food and then eat it and experience nature in the City!

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

knowledgeable, creative and enthusiastic about their cause.

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

make accessible the benefits of their programming to their entire community or district. They could help set up gardens and cooking/nutrition workshops on public housing sites, at community centers and in public parks!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

27 people found this review helpful

they make good connections - with school kids, neighbors, the local zen center, restaurants and businesses; the park itself is a gem. i wouldn't want to imagine the neighborhood without their presence.

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

the ongoing beauty and refuge that the park is.

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

be tired but proud.

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

how great the park is - seeing kids playing and working and learning there.

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

friendly, down to earth, devoted to relationships with the earth, the neighborhood, each other.

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

turn on more kids to the magnificent experience of growing your own food and flowers and seeing how that leads to a healthy planet and a healthy body.

Ways to make it better...

i didn't have huge commitment issues.

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

$$.

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

i wish i'd gone to john muir elementary and learned how to garden as a second grader.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007-9-01

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

28 people found this review helpful

important connecting with the elementary school, the zen center, the park, neighborhood restaurants and other businesses, and neighbors; the park itself is a gem in the neighborhood, and the participation of the students from the nearby school in caring for the garden within the park is just icing on the cake! hvnparks group is filling an important role in bringing everybody together. i can't/don't want to imagine the neighborhood without their presence.

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

the neighborhood park.

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

be tired, but proud.

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

the palpable impact on the quality of life in the neighborhood - i mean, you can't beat gardening with your neighbors!

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

friendly, down-to-earth, devoted to relationships - with the earth, the neighborhood, each other.

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

bring our economy out of the dumps.

Ways to make it better...

i didn't have huge commitment issues.

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

$$

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

i would have liked to have gone to john muir elementary and learned how to garden in 2nd grade.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

27 people found this review helpful

Some of the things I worry about the most: the environment, food security, poverty and its impacts of families, community breakdown and violence, not enough support and help for our kids, education—all of these things are solved by this little neighborhood group with the big impact. I keep wishing this organization could win millions of dollars and expand their program to thousands of kids. Teaching kids to plant food in the community garden, then to harvest it and cook healthy meals. It sounds simple but it is the basic building block of a healthy society—it could be the start of a peaceful revolution!

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

Local families from public housing and the rest of the neighborhood changing eating patterns and activities of their kids.

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

I don't think it's possible!

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

The leaders of this project, Barbara and Nora, have a really inspiring vision and they are not afraid to push to do things that other people might say are impossible.

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

Smart, caring, creative, funny, gentle, wise and strong.

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

Expand it's community gardening education program to all the public schools & public parks in the neighborhood; help many more teenagers in San Francisco Public Housing by educating them about environmental leadership and job training in their Beet Rangers program; pay their staff a living wage.

Ways to make it better...

This group were given the funding they deserve to expand their program!

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

The lack of funding and support for truly impactful work.

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

If you understand that deep social justice must connect people living in poverty with the future of our planet through environmental education and job training, you should donate/volunteer/help HVNPG.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

24 people found this review helpful

Long term excellence of neighborhood involvement and enhancement. Truly a model that sustained mindful effort pays off. Barbara Wenger and her students deserve more awards.

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

how the neighborhood has gotten involved and been enhanced for their efforts.

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

very responsive to my questions and interest.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

23 people found this review helpful

Ever spend time in a City neighborhood and need a quiet, nurturing space for your thoughts and reflections? A space where you can spend a few minutes with a book or notebook or an organizer? A space that, because it supports gardening and children and folks in wheelchairs and welcomes each person who wanders through, supports your life too? Graciously planted and maintained Hayes Valley Neighborhood park space is also a place to sit with a friend or chat with a neighbor, a place to walk your dog on leash, a place to admire and learn about urban gardening.

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

community pride and places for community connection.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

25 people found this review helpful

I love Koshland Park and the other parks that comprise the Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS Group. I live on the same block as Koshland Park, and walk my dogs there in the morning and most evenings. About 3 or 4 years ago, Barbara Wenger asked if I wanted to volunteer and open the terraced part of the park in the morning, and relunctantly I agreed. Since then, I've been opening Koshland Park nearly every morning, and take pride in my role. I enjoy providing this service to my neighbors and the neighborhood! Opening the park makes me feel part of a larger community as so many of us enjoy Koshland Park differently. Over the years, I have met many people and have made some good friends too! In the morning, I open the park for my fellow dog-walkers and their beloved furry friends. I also open the park for some neighbors who practice Tai Chi. Occasionally they will break their pose to say goodmorning or pat a dog on the head. The gardeners who have plots in Koshland Park are also very pleasant and have often given me flowers or herbs to show their appreciation for my role as "gatekeeper". In general, HVNPG brings neighbors of all walks of life together. Our parks are great for communities, neighbors, families and visitors. They serve as our backyards and withouth HVNPG the quality of life in Hayes Valley would not be as rich. Thanks again HVNPG!

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

Constructing the "Peace Wall" along Page and Buchannan Streets. The Peace Wall took a number of years to complete and has enhanced the neighborhood and property value immensely.

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

Raise money and continue along the same path. Barbara Wenger has done an amazing job and I honestly do not think I could do better.

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

The autonomy to open the gate as it fits with my schedule.

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

The staff and volunteers are kind and helpful ... mostly neighbors who care! I used to live in Pacific Heights and Hayes Valley residents are much nicer and work harder at building an inclusive community.

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

1. Set-up a trust so HVNPG could be more self-sufficient now and in the future. 2. Try to obtain additional park land from The City - near Fell St. off ramp or UC Extension Center. 3. Offer more community events, focusing on community building, volunteer recruitment (free labor is always good), and 4. Offer more workshops for inner city youth on gardening, workshops with animals (many inner city kids are fascinated by my pets), etc.

Ways to make it better...

My experience has been just fine. Sometimes the gates are not locked in the evening which makes opening the park a little more interesting in the morning.

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

Funding

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

We do a lot with a little. It would be nice to be able to do even more.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-4-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

22 people found this review helpful

They did the most fantastic job to transform not just this one garden but the whole area so it is actually now save, fun and educational to use this park. Every time I am in the park I want to bow down in front of these people to let them know what fantastic work they did. Thanks, Rene

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

person in Hayes Valley, San Francisco

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

do the same thing but I couldn't run it that well

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

there is not one single think. The people are fantastic, they work well together and bring people together. They are really community building and their outcomes are fantastic

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

very nice and informative.

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

make San Francisco even more green and help the youth to care for the environment and their parks and gardens better

Ways to make it better...

I had a good expericence

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

resources. They really need some more money

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

there could be a box with toys for the kids on the playground which could be unlocked with a combination lock

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

24 people found this review helpful

A terrific resource in my neighborhood. It enriched my life tremendously. This group helps our neighborhood to stay clean, provides a safe park where I can sit and relax and listen to the birds.

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

my neigborhood

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

that it is accessible to volunteers

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

really nice and made me feel welcome.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-10-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

22 people found this review helpful

I worked with HVNPG getting them set up with GNP last year, and during my correspondence with them was lucky enough to be able to go and see them at work during a community night in the area. I saw the great impact that they're making in Hayes Valley, especially regarding the youth. They run gardens and teach kids who participate in their programs about sustainability and conservation, and they really make everything that they do a community effort. The people that I spoke with really felt the impact of HVNPG on an individual level, in that it made them engage with the community and have more of a stake in their neighborhood, and their youth programs help keep local kids off the streets and doing healthy, environmentally friendly outdoor activities. All in all, I think they're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

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

the people that they've engaged with and made feel like part of the community, from adults to children.

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

the enthusiasm of not only Barbara Wenger, my HVNPG contact, but also everyone who I spoke to--the volunteers, the program participants, and the kids, especially.

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

really fantastic, enthusiastic, and genuine.

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

expand the open space available in the community, creating more gardens and allowing the programs to have a broader scope and a higher participation rate.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

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