Friday, December 16, 2005

The Season of Giving

As we put the garden to bed for our brief Mediterranean winter, I appreciate this time to reflect and hibernate a little, and to catch up with friends of Urban Sprouts. All the warm energy and enthusiasm you all have been sending me helps to renew my inspiration for the hard work ahead.

Techno-Sprouts. I’m trying something new, inspired by Britt Bravo’s blog Have Fun • Do Good and her work helping nonprofits utilize technology. Visit Urban Sprouts e-News in blog form, and add your own comments! (Bear with me, I’m new at this!)

Garden Update. The gardens look so lush and green now as the rains begin! Broccoli plants are forming huge flowering heads while fava beans are climbing higher, reaching the knees and then the waists of students. The feasting has begun! We're making delicious fresh salads with a variety of greens: lettuces of all shapes and colors, baby spinach and chard, mustardy mizuna and tatsoi, spicy arugula, and tender leaves from fava shoots. But the youngsters’ favorite leafy green of all . . . Lemony sour oxalis weeds!! The pest of all pests! Well, besides the gophers who are still competing with us for all the best broccoli. If you live near Alamo Square or the Excelsior and would like to harvest collards, kale or other cooking greens over the holidays, there is PLENTY so let me know!

Classroom Notes. As I reflect on the year’s successes and challenges, I wanted to share some of my field notes from this fall. We’ve had hard days and inspiring days—I hope this pattern means we are improving over time, and that we can keep it up!
October 5, 2005
This time I stayed back in the classroom with the students who weren’t doing well. It took us several tries to get in a line and get outside. They were SO frustrating. It was last period and they were just bouncing off the walls, not listening to me at all. I got them to dig an easy bed and do some watering. The walk back to class was not so good. I think it was just my group. The others seemed to be OK. There is a small group of students who don’t listen or cooperate. Sometimes they won’t work at all. For now they can only do certain jobs—will those run out, or get boring? We can never run out of ground for just digging holes, right?

November 8, 2005
Ms. DeSnoo’s Special Day students are just amazing. The progress they have made is incredible. She has them in their seats, doing their work, cooperating, following the rules. There are definitely still outbursts but very limited compared to last year. They are excellent in the garden. They wander a bit and need reminders to stay focused, but they do a great job. They’re cooperative and positive in the garden and they get a lot of work done. Last week we found one ripe strawberry and they all passed it around and smelled it and couldn’t believe how strong and strawberry-like the smell was. Today they asked for more!

November 22, 2005
We had our best day yet at Ida B. We had a new volunteer there, too, making a huge difference. It was a day of ideal weather. The students dug an entire new path into a new area where there is no garden. I never thought I’d be able to get them to do the digging, even over months! But they did it all in one day. Students who usually participate did a LOT of work, and students who usually just complain really engaged and participated. It was great. The space is transformed.

Support and More Support!
Thank you, thank you, gracias and obrigada for all the volunteer time and contributions pouring in to Urban Sprouts this fall! Every classroom volunteer and donation encourages me when times are tough in our schools and communities. Knowing you are all behind Urban Sprouts makes a huge difference!!

Thank you to our dedicated volunteers for giving more than 75 hours of classroom time:
Marianne Bojelian-Papas
Christina Chan
Alicia Connor
Zia Hrdy
Eddy Jara
Lisa Nguyen
Thank you to all our generous and caring donors who have given over $2,500 to date:
Claudia Anderson
Marisa Bosworth
Mike & Phoebe Bressack
Margot Duxler
Brook & CJ Higley
Steve Janko
Marianne Keenan
Alana Lachance
Anna Maria Luera
Jennifer Marshall
Patty & Michael Phleger
Augusta Prince
Abby Rosenheck
Mabel Rosenheck
Robert Rosenheck & Charlotte Hitchcock
Vede Rosenheck
Jessica & Sam Droste Yagan
Renee & Claude Zellweger
And an extra SPECIAL thanks to Bill & Christine of the Potrero Nuevo Fund who have pledged a grant of $7,500 to Urban Sprouts for the new year!

Remember, it’s not too late to make a special gift for the holidays! Give in honor of a loved one and you can make your own dedication stone to place in an Urban Sprouts garden. E-mail me today with your pledge of $35, $75 or $125!

These words of wisdom just came in from Odin Zackman, a friend of Urban Sprouts who builds community and sustainability through his consulting business, DIG IN. He reflected that gratitude “can help us build a healthier culture and create stronger relationships”:
When thinking about gratitude, I like to think of the common root of humble and human, meaning “to be close to the earth.” Like humus, that precious component of soil that gives it life, how can our humility and humanity—through the practice of giving thanks, create an experience and a world that is more grounded and alive?
The crazy holiday “season of giving” does give me the chance to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for the community of support that surrounds Urban Sprouts. Thank you!

Have a peaceful, cozy and very Happy Holidays!

Whether you’re gorging on Christmas, enjoying the traditional Jewish Chinese take-out, celebrating Kwanzaa (a harvest festival!), the solstice, the New Year, or nothing in particular, don’t forget to serve yourself some veggies!

Take care,