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Nonprofit Overview

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.

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

34

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

36

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

36

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

26

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

23

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

26

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.