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  

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

Was this review helpful? 
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

Was this review helpful? 
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

Was this review helpful? 
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

The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group brings beauty to our community while also providing a great place to grow your own food and learn from others. They are so open with information and tips about gardening and it feels great to be a part of making this area a better place for everyone to live in.

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

meeting other people with similar passions and increasing my knowledge about gardening.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

23 people found this review helpful

With Barbara's leadership over the years, the Hayes Valley Neighborhood PARKS Group has made a major impact on the lives of the people who live here. Our children are finding purpose in their lives by nurturing seedlings and gardens. The gardens the residents maintain as volunteers fill them with pride. All residents, young and old, are finding common ground and ownership in taking back our neighborhood from years of neglect. This HVPG organization has played a key role in showing the way how to provide a vision, create the plan, and lead the people. May other city garden orgaizations learn from the master!! BRAVO!! Gail Baugh, Hayes Valley

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

providing leadership with short-term goals

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

getting to know the kids who discover they like to garden!

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

committed and resilient, capable of taking disappoints in stride with the successes.

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

multiply its success 100 million times more than the 10 million it received.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 4 stars  

22 people found this review helpful

One thing to add, I only recently moved to Hayes Valley and wanted to know who was "in charge" of the Patricia's Green to that I could make it "my own" too. HVNPG was one of the handful of community based groups that encouraged me to "take charge" and facilitated my contacts with the city's Rec and Park department and other players. Last month, with help, I organized a Patricia's Green Clean Up and have scheduled two more through November. At this past event there were twenty members of the neighborhood and their friends with the full cooperation of Rec and Park gardener. And as somewhat of a bonus (as surprise to me) also present was the Rec and Parks volunteer coordinator, two custodial workers, two department supervisors, tools, plants, mulch for everyone's enjoyment. The best part of the deal was pruning of the palm trees and a much needed power washing of the paving and furniture. And all for making a few phone calls!

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

ditto

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

ditto

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

ditto

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

ditto

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

ditto

Ways to make it better...

ditto

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

ditto

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

ditto

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

27 people found this review helpful

I volunteer here on Citizen Patrol and I also do a clown, Curly the Clown, for different nonprofit community events, like play days in the parks and things like that. *This review collected during the 7th Annual Western Addition National Night Out and entered by GreatNonprofits staff on behalf of the reviewer

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

When I first came to this neighborhood in 1986 there was a lot of confusion and there wasn't anything like this [the community nights]. Now people are more friendly and open and it's a really positive change for us and our children. And the programs help keep the kids off the streets.

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 children--watching them and seeing them grow.

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

great. Every one of them. And I think it really makes an impact on the kids and the people.

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

do more things for the children, funding programs and buying supplies.

Ways to make it better...

I don't know. I think that everyone is trying their best and working with the kids, and that's enough. It's positive growth.

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

the economy.

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

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 4 stars  

21 people found this review helpful

HVNPG was charged with encouraging the rebirth of a group of Hayes Valley Parks when the surrounding SFHA projects were slated for redevelopment. The group has transformed three parks nearest to Hayes Valley North and South housing developments to lovely spaces accessible to everyone in the case of Koshland Park and Page St. Park and provided private garden plots to serious greenthumbers in what was once an empty lot close to John Muir School. Young kids from the school have science classes conducted in the learning garden and older kids, the BEET Rangers, are provided H.S. credit and stipends to maintain a regular work schedule maintaining the garden landscaping.

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

turning around a group of Western Addition parks from dangerous places to neighborhood jems

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

focus on a core mission--environmental stewardship and all the rewards it brings to individuals and the community

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

getting to know my neighbors and nature in my own community

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

open minded, warm hearted, dedicated to making the Western Addition a better place to call home

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

ensure every resident at the Hayes Valley area had access to a beautiful tended learning garden and opportunity to learn stewardship of the environment

Ways to make it better...

I had been around from the beginning to feel I had a hand in the good works its done

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

parks have turned a corner already... has HVNPG met its challenge?

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

a more interactive website would be nice, which I am told is in the works

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

23 people found this review helpful

I got involved with the Koshland Garden and they try to keep up, cleaning up. Right now they;re trying to do a peace wall and open up the park. I help in the garden, tidy up and do the maintenance, and I like to get involved. They try so many different activities and different things. Barbara [of HVNPG] is a great person, doing whatever she can for the community. *This review collected during the 7th Annual Western Addition National Night Out and entered by GreatNonprofits staff on behalf of the reviewer

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

getting all the children together, keeping them out of mischief. Also they get the community together, especially the parents. Hopefully this will cut down crime. With the community working together, it helps society.

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

I don't even want to try. I think they do a great job. I wouldn't know how to start.

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

the people here I've had contact with. They;re all really wonderful and friendly.

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

warm-hearted, accomodating

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

really try to use it to change and update one of the nearby playgrounds. And work on safety and clean up, especially with regard to the drug problems in the area.

Ways to make it better...

there were more community and activity events to help people get to know their neighbors better. Because people are so busy, this might be the only way for them to connect with one another.

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

try to get thing moving the way they want to, and getting enough funding. Just like any other organization.

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

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008-8-01

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