Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our Results: 2006-2007

Outcomes and Activities:
During the 2006-2007 school year, Urban Sprouts planned to reach 250 students in the 6th – 12th grades at four San Francisco public schools serving the city’s most under-served neighborhoods.

Urban Sprouts greatly surpassed this goal, reaching a total of 442 students this year. Urban Sprouts partnered with four schools: Excelsior Middle School, Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School, June Jordan School for Equity, and Ida B. Wells Continuation High School. These schools serve San Francisco neighborhoods including the OMI/Excelsior, Sunnydale, Visitacion Valley, Portola, Bayview-Hunters Point, and Western Addition. Of students reached, over 60% were low-income students, 97% were youth of color, and 55% were defined as educationally disadvantaged by the San Francisco Unified School District.

In order to reach Urban Sprouts’ objective of providing hands-on garden-based education for 250 youth, spending at least an hour in the garden each week for 20 weeks, we provided the following activities at our four school sites.

In class Garden-based Education. Over 390 students participated in Urban Sprouts’ core garden-based education program that takes place during science classes. The garden-based classes meet for one hour every other week throughout the school year for a total of 20 hours of participation for every student. Each session is led by the Garden Educator and includes interactive academic learning and garden work. Every student experienced the full process of planting, growing, harvesting and eating crops from the school garden at least three times during the school year. By participating in the entire process, students have strengthened their positive preferences for eating a variety of vegetables.

An additional 28 high school students at June Jordan School for Equity participated in a semester-long elective course focused entirely on sustainable agriculture and food production. This garden-based curriculum included weekly lessons that took place in the school garden, curriculum on nutrition, food production, distribution and marketing, food policy, farm economics, and the environmental impact of agriculture, as well as a field trip to ALBA Organic Farm in Salinas, California.

Garden-based Youth Leadership. We partnered with teachers and students to identify leadership opportunities for smaller groups of 10-15 students, to engage more intensively with the garden and to lead related school-wide activities. These opportunities involved 25 students:
  • Excelsior Middle School: Fifteen students in Urban Sprouts’ after school program created, implemented and evaluated a school-wide recycling program. Students led a waste diversion campaign that included posters, a skit, monitoring recycling bins at lunch, and calculating the school’s waste diversion percentage, with support from San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.
  • June Jordan School for Equity: Students from the “Food!” elective course at JJSE hosted a meeting with the SFUSD Nutrition and Food Services Director to discuss avenues for improving school lunch at the Jordan/Excelsior campus. A group of parents and students from both schools picked up this effort and will continue to pursue improving school lunch with support from Urban Sprouts during the 2007-2008 school year.
Events. During the 2006-07 school year, Urban Sprouts hosted these youth-led community-wide events to build involvement in the garden program:
  • Salad Days: students at both middle schools harvested, prepared and served school-grown salads to the entire school at lunch;
  • Garden Work Parties: students and staff at each school hosted a celebration of garden work, harvesting, cooking, and other activities, attended by students, families, teachers and community members.
Volunteers. Urban Sprouts recruited community members to volunteer in teachers’ classrooms, which lowered the youth-adult ratio from 25:1 or higher to as low as 5:1, during garden-based activities. In total, 17 volunteers provided over 155 hours of support to students in the garden.

New Summer Program. As a result of Urban Sprouts’ cultivation of community partnerships during the year, we developed a new summer opportunity for the youth we serve during the school year. Urban Sprouts partnered with the Garden for the Environment (GFE) to host a two-week summer program for 21 youth, meeting for four hours each day at the GFE. Urban Sprouts trained and supervised 5 high school students who served as staff for the 16 middle school-aged participants. The Summer Program included: daily garden work; an intensive curriculum on gardening, waste diversion, nutrition and sustainable agriculture; daily harvest and preparation of a healthy lunch, and the creation of a culminating event in which youth shared their learning with their families and friends and created take-home actions to apply their learning at home (examples included kits for home recycling, composting, and gardening).

During 2006-07 Urban Sprouts was able to offer more programming to more youth than we originally anticipated. We raised additional funds for the year, a substantial portion from the California Nutrition Network, and were able to hire two additional part-time Garden Educators, Marcus Gallegos and Herman Yee.

Evaluation and Outcomes:
Urban Sprouts’ stated activities included conducting surveys and focus groups to determine the degree of students’ new knowledge, attitudes and behaviors after participating in our programs. Urban Sprouts’ objectives included increases in students’ ecoliteracy, environmental awareness and preferences for consuming fruits and vegetables as a result of participating in our programs.

This spring, Urban Sprouts implemented a survey questionnaire, student focus groups and key informant interviews after completion of our programming. This data is currently being analyzed by Urban Sprouts’ Evaluation Specialist, Michelle M. Ratcliffe, Ph.D. We will share our results on our website as soon as they are complete.

Currently, we have results of Urban Sprouts’ program evaluation conducted by Dr. Ratcliffe from 2004 to 2006 in our middle school programs. We have exciting results to share. Urban Sprouts’ evaluation showed that the garden-based learning experiences:
  • Influenced the school’s curricular, physical and social learning environments.
  • Affected students’ environment-related skills and knowledge, and attitudes and preferences towards the environment.
  • Provided opportunities for students to begin to make sense of the natural world and their relationship to it.
  • Influenced students’ social and moral development including strengthening their resiliency traits of pride, patience, hard work, team work, and motivation.
  • Influenced students’ willingness to try new foods, decreased their consumption of less nutritious foods, and increased their physical activity level.
  • Participating students increased their preferences for a variety of vegetables, the variety of vegetables they eat and how often they eat them.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Summer Soil Exploration

Welcome to the Summer Program! So much has happened in our first week enjoying San Francisco's beautiful Garden for the Environment, together with 16 youth from middle school and 5 youth staff from high school. Some major highlights for me are watching the youth staff teach the younger youth to garden, enjoy nature, and try crazy new foods ("You picked that from a tree!?!") My favorite quote from the week was, "This is the first time I've eaten a healthy breakfast AND a healthy lunch!" We've got these youngsters eating granola for breakfast and salad for lunch, every day for two weeks!

Here are some photos of our first few gardening workshops on Soil Health. Youth staff led the younger youth in small groups, exploring four different soils up close and personal. They checked the soils for crumbly texture, moisture, air pockets, and number of living things (decomposers!). The youth compared the soils, and chose which they would prefer, from a plant's perspective.

Here are the four soils: the native sandy beach soil, pure compost straight from the worm bin, and two samples of garden soil from different spots.

Stay tuned for more about our summer gardening adventures!

Monday, June 18, 2007

About Urban Sprouts

By cultivating school gardens in San Francisco’s under-served neighborhoods, Urban Sprouts partners with youth and their families to build eco-literacy, equity, wellness, and community.

Our gardens help students become more engaged in school and connect with food, the environment and each other. Our activities include:
  • School gardens and nutrition education: This year we’ll reach over 750 middle and high school students at seven schools: Aptos Middle School, International Studies Academy, June Jordan School for Equity, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, SF Community School, Ida B. Wells Continuation High School, and Log Cabin Ranch (part of San Francisco’s juvenile justice program).
  • Farmers in Residence program: The Farmers in Residence program involves school parents in the school garden and supports them to grow their own food. Each family in the program tends a garden plot and receives materials, training, and a modest stipend.
  • Urban Sprouts & Garden for the Environment Summer Program: Since 2006, Urban Sprouts has partnered with Garden for the Environment to provide an intensive summer gardening and leadership program for youth.
  • The Garden-Based Education Model and Training Initiative: Since our beginning, Urban Sprouts has used a research-tested and theory-based model to guide all our programs. In 2009, we’ll share our methods and research results throughout California and the West through training, coaching, and web-based tools.

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Urban Sprouts grew out of a doctoral thesis project conducted at Luther Burbank Middle School during the 2003-04 school year. At the end of the study, teachers asked the research team to stay on and help make the school garden a sustained program at the core of the school’s curriculum. In our first year, 100 youth worked in the school garden, and we have since expanded to support school garden programs at six middle and high schools. Since 2003, over 3,100 youth have benefited from hands-on garden learning by growing, harvesting and eating their own vegetables.

From the beginning, we've seen that family involvement is key to improving youth health and ecoliteracy. While youth in our garden-based education programs now want to eat more fruits and vegetables, without access to fresh produce at school and at home, our work was incomplete. In 2005 we began developing strategies to draw families into our school garden work, to engage families in strengthening their children's schools, and to partner with families to change the food environment at school, in our neighborhoods, and at home. In 2009, we kicked off our Farmers-in-Residence program, to involve school families in the school garden and enable them to grow their own food right at school. We also continue to support efforts to make school meals healthier, fresher, and more sustainably-grown.

Garden-based Education Model
To provide high-quality garden-based education, Urban Sprouts bases all programming on a research-tested and behavior-driven model that includes these elements:
  • We help youth go beyond knowledge and attitudes to affect youth behaviors of nutrition, physical activity, and environmental responsibility;
  • We provide an adequate number of hours of experience to impact behaviors;
  • We engage students in the entire process of growing food from seed to harvest to table;
  • We build a collaboration of students, teachers, administrators, staff, and parents to improve student health through community involvement and community-wide events;
  • We evaluate and reflect on our work as an organization and with schools to continually improve our programs and show our results.

For more about the theory and details of the Program Model, click here.

Our Funders:

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ida B Harvests Art & Veggies

Here at the height of Spring, Ida B Wells High School's garden has seen a lot of action! First, on May 24th we celebrated the fourth annual Art & Poetry Cabaret, where the school garden was beautifully represented. Students, teachers and neighbors enjoyed garden-grown green salad, artichokes and fava beans as they perused and purchased student art work, and enjoyed the fashion show and poetry reading. Guests even toured the garden, checking out the harvest as well as the small spring sprouts coming up!

Special thanks to NoPa Restaurant who donated a dinner for two as a raffle item, and to volunteer Jean Cooney who made that happen!

Students' sculptures from the show:

Next, Ida B Wells students explored their roots! Fresh, organic roots and tubers! We harvested carrots:

And a mix of tubers, including red potatoes, yellow potatoes and mashua. Mashua (the long white root) is a traditional tuber crop from the Andes Mountains (just like potatoes!) that is related to nasturtiums. The leaves look just like nasturtium leaves.

Then, we made french fries! Yum:

Finally, we planted seed potatoes for next fall's crop.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Contact Us

(415) 287-0722
Skype Me™!

Urban Sprouts
451 Hayes St., 2nd Fl
San Francisco, CA 94102

If you'd like to learn more about us, please attend one of our Monthly School Garden Tours—Explore the gardens, learn more and meet our director. We are unable to respond to all inquiries regarding our programs, so this tour can answer your questions!

Locations of our School Garden sites:

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Urban Sprouts Advisory Board

Lisa Chen, Masters Candidate, City & Regional Planning, UC Berkeley, Resident of Berkeley, CA
More about Lisa: Here and Here

Sanaz Ebriani, Resident of San Francisco, CA

Kisai Henriquez, Case Manager, Community Assessment and Referral Center, Huckleberry Youth Programs, Resident of San Francisco, CA
Kisai grew up in San Francisco, attending one of our partner schools, ISA, and Life Learning Academy, a school with a successful school garden. She brings expertise in youth development, case management, and employment support for youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system.

Abigail R. Jaramillo, Executive Director, Urban Sprouts, Resident of San Francisco, CA
More about Abby Here.

Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe, Ph.D., Farm-to-School Manager, Ecotrust, Western Region Lead Agency, National Farm to School Network
, Resident of Hubbard, OR
More about Michelle Here.

Simran Singh, Financial Analyst, Resident of San Francisco, CA
Simran grew up in Singapore and worked in corporate finance for most of her career. Now she lives in the Presidio and is raising her 3-year-old daughter to love fresh, healthy and cultural foods.

Jennifer Thacher, Resident of San Francisco, CA
Jen has researched the benefits of environmental education for youth in her studies at UC Santa Barbara, and she brings expertise in nonprofit communications and event planning.

Brent Williams, Director of Network Operations, Xoom Corporation, Resident of San Francisco, CA
Brent is a Director at Xoom, a local tech company, and shares with us his experiences in management, in parenting, and in his amazing kitchen full of spice jars and unique cooking tools.

Photo, Clockwise from top: Simran, Kisai, Jen.