Monday, June 30, 2008

Our Results: 2007-2008

Outcomes and Activities:
During the 2007-2008 school year, Urban Sprouts planned to reach 500 students in the 6th through 12th grades at five San Francisco public schools serving the city’s most under-served neighborhoods.

Urban Sprouts greatly surpassed this goal, reaching a total of 728 students this year. Urban Sprouts partnered with five schools: Aptos Middle School, 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, 64% were low-income students, 96% were youth of color, and 52% were defined as educationally disadvantaged by the San Francisco Unified School District.

We provided the following activities at our five school sites:

In class Garden-based Education. Over 688 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 ecoliteracy and environmental responsibility.

An additional 18 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 farm field trip to Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos, California.

Garden-based Youth Leadership.
We partnered with teachers and students to identify leadership opportunities for smaller groups of students, to engage more intensively with the garden and to lead related school-wide activities. These opportunities involved 15 students:
  • Excelsior Middle School: Seven 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, monitoring recycling bins at lunch, and calculating the school’s waste diversion percentage, with support from San Francisco’s Department of the Environment.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School: Eight students in Urban Sprouts’ after school Garden Club conducted an Earth Day awareness campaign. Students from all of MLK’s 6th and 7th grade classes decorated paper shopping bags with messages about Earth Day and about reusing and recycling waste materials. The after school Garden Club brought the bags to a local supermarket on Earth Day and gave them out to shoppers to reuse for their shopping.

Summer Program. For the second summer, 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).
Family Programming. Our school partners identified increased parent engagement as a major goal, and encouraged Urban Sprouts to utilize the school garden for this purpose. In addition, changes in youth attitudes and behaviors of environmental responsibility achieve greater impact with parent support and reinforcement at home. Urban Sprouts participated in three school-wide events for parents and held twelve meetings and workshops, engaging 63 school parents with the school garden and with cooking projects using garden-grown produce.

Due to feedback from school parents, we are redesigning the format of this program. During the next school year, family programming will include family garden plots within school gardens, in which families will showcase cultural gardening practices while producing food for their own consumption. The new garden plots will be installed in October 2008 with support from Clif Bar.

School Farm and Food Connection.
In order to connect the school community to local farms and healthy food options, Urban Sprouts took four groups of students on farm field trips to Hidden Villa Ranch in Los Altos, California and to Slide Ranch in Muir Beach, California. In addition, we helped students and parents at Excelsior Middle School to design and practice preparing healthy meals made from fresh produce, so the group could prepare these meals while traveling on a school field trip to Washington, DC. Lastly, Urban Sprouts participated in efforts to revise the SFUSD Wellness Policy through the Student Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee, in order to continually increase opportunities for students district-wide to improve their health, wellness and the environmental impact of their schools.

Events. During the 2007-08 school year, Urban Sprouts hosted these community-wide events to build involvement in the garden program:
  • Salad Days: students at all three middle schools harvested, prepared and served school-grown salads to the entire school at lunch;
  • Garden Work Parties: students and staff at each school site hosted garden work days, including gardening, harvesting, cooking, and other activities, attended by students, families, teachers and community members.
Volunteers. Urban Sprouts recruited community members to develop and maintain the gardens through work days, and to volunteer in teachers’ classrooms during garden-based lessons. Classroom volunteers lowered the youth-adult ratio from as high as 35:1 to as low as 5:1. In total, 22 volunteers provided over 400 hours of support to students in the school garden, while 110 volunteers including employee groups from Act Now, Clif Bar, Skywire, Sutter Health, and Google contributed 440 hours helping to build wheelchair-accessible garden beds, worm bins, and a new chicken coop in the garden.

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

This year, Urban Sprouts implemented an online pre- and post-test survey questionnaire, student focus groups and key informant interviews. 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.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Urban Sprouts Loves Philly

I recently got back from a weekend trip to Philadelphia. Christine Manoux of the UC Botanical Garden asked me to join her for a conference at the Franklin Institute. The Franklin's BRIDGES conference asks about 50 cultural institutions from around the country — like science museums, children's museums, zoos — to bring a community partner and share how they work together to make the museums more accessible and exciting for new audiences, like the families we serve.

Christine and I presented on our shared work of supporting school gardens in the Bay Area, and I was excited about the idea of connecting families more to our botanical gardens. What better way to get inspiration for your home garden? Botanical gardens can be a fun and educational way to connect families to the garden-based education we're doing at schools. Thinking back . . . that was always one of my dad's first stops in any new place!

The format of the conference was very interesting - it was like a giant focus group to gather best practices on making museums accessible to more families. I loved what folks from the American Museum of Natural History in New York said, about empowering the youth in their programs to explore the museum, equipped with flashlights and the gear of scientists, so THEY feel like the experts and like they belong in the very grand museum. Folks from the Boston Children's Museum shared about exhibits created not by white-scientist-experts, but by members of the city's immigrant community, to share stories and history from the city's diverse voices. I know I am often turned off by museums presenting generalized archeological information about a culture as if all its members were the same and all now dead.

A very thought-provoking conference, including a visit to the Real Pirates exhibit at the Franklin. So much fun! I highly recommend it. We also enjoyed our time in Philadelphia, a truly beautiful, historic and fun city! Go there, if you can!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Salad Day and School's Out!

The last couple of weeks of school were a flurry of activity as we rushed to prepare the gardens for summer vacation, held end-of-the-year parties and BBQs, and said goodbye to our friends and teachers.

Of course, we couldn't end the year without one last garden bash. At MLK MS and Excelsior MS we held our annual Salad Day events. We harvested huge amounts of lettuce and veggies, made homemade ranch dressing, collected flowers for decorations, and created advertisement posters. Then, we setup a table in the cafeteria at lunchtime and served fresh salad to the whole school.

The salad was a huge hit -- one student told me she ate eight small plates of salad! Many students have told me that they don't like school lunches, so... I think everyday should be Salad Day, don't you?

Here is our recipe for delicious homemade ranch dressing - it goes great on everything, from salad to chicken strips. You can also find it in the Urban Sprouts cookbook, which you can get by sending an e-mail to: abby AT urbansprouts dot org.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream/buttermilk
1/2 cup buttermilk (or less, adjust for desired thickness)
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried/fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried/fresh dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, chives, parsley, dill, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Job Opportunities at Urban Sprouts


What is Urban Sprouts?
Urban Sprouts is a school garden organization that serves low-income youth from San Francisco’s under-served neighborhoods. We teach youth to grow, harvest, prepare and eat vegetables from the school garden in order to help youth become more engaged in school, eat better, exercise more, and connect with the environment and each other.

Urban Sprouts uses garden-based education to:
• Improve students' learning in science and their ecoliteracy (environmental awareness and responsibility)
• Improve students' nutrition and physical fitness
• Build community involvement within urban schools.
• Help youth and their families take action to improve food access and environmental justice in their communities.

Each year we work with over 700 youth at five San Francisco public schools: Aptos Middle School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, International Studies Academy, June Jordan School for Equity and Ida B. Wells Continuation High School.

Job Description
Urban Sprouts’ Garden Educators facilitate our core garden-based education curriculum. The Educator will facilitate primarily high school and some middle school science classes, combining environmental science education, nutrition education, hands-on experiences in the school garden (planting, tending, harvesting and cooking), and youth development principles. The Garden Educator co-teaches with the classroom teacher and mentors the teacher in outdoor classroom management techniques. The Garden Educator builds involvement in and commitment to the school garden within the school community, including teachers, administrators, students, parents and community volunteers, by collaborating with Urban Sprouts’ Program Manager. The Garden Educator will also support a group of student leaders to engage in garden-related action projects through after school or extra-curricular programming.

Job Responsibilities
• Facilitate 3-4 garden-based education classes per day two to three days each week;
• Prepare for each lesson by gathering supplies, worksheets, and reviewing each lesson plan;
• Manage the school garden, plan and prepare for garden work activities, manage cropping schedule, prepare for availability of tools and other necessary materials.
• Participate in biweekly staff meetings, which include professional support, collaborative curriculum planning, and completing reporting paperwork.
• Coordinate Garden Party Work Days in collaboration with the Family and Volunteer Programs Manager. Garden Party Work Days bring students, families, teachers and community members together to work and celebrate in the garden on a Saturday.
• Coordinate school-wide events such as Salad Days, in which students prepare and serve garden-grown salad for the entire school at lunch.
• Supervise classroom volunteers who assist with garden work activities.
• Meet with each teacher on a monthly basis for assessment and coaching.
• Monitor, document and report on all activities and extent of student and teacher participation to Executive Director.

Desired Skills and Experience
• At least 2-3 years of facilitation or teaching experience with youth aged 11-17; outdoor group management experience preferred.
• Knowledge and skills in small-scale organic food production or home gardening.
• Knowledge of or interest in topics including urban gardening, botany, environmental science, health and nutrition, food systems, food access, urban schools and social justice.
• A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent preferred.
• Bilingual and/or bi-cultural preferred (languages include Spanish, Tagalog, Cantonese).
• Demonstrated ability to work with diverse populations including youth and adults.
• Strong oral and written communication skills, including public speaking skills.
• Ability to work collaboratively and independently, flexible, enthusiastic, creative thinker.

This is a part-time position working 20-25 hours per week, $18-20 per hour DOE, during the 10-month school year, with summer work as a possibility.

To Apply
Please send a resume and cover letter via email to Abby Jaramillo, Executive Director, at abby AT urbansprouts DOT org or by mail to 326 Prospect Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110. For more information, visit our blog and website.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Coffee & Kale a Success!

A HUGE Thank You to everyone who attended our Coffee & Kale Garden Brunch at Ida B. Wells High School on Sunday. This was the first time ever we have hosted an event like this. And it was so much fun!

First, in preparation, students harvested five boxes of produce from all our school gardens, including kale (of course), beets, onions, turnips, radishes, lettuces, sage, and lots of flowers. And we delivered them to our neighborhood chefs!

Then, on Sunday, Jeff and Laurence from Nopa Restaurant transformed our produce into beautiful fritatas with onion, kale, sage and more, crostini with radishes, and salad, to feed our hungry guests!

At Coffee & Kale, guests enjoyed garden tours, garden-grown greens cooked by students, seed saving, and a brief presentation with remarks by Claudia Anderson (Ida B's principal), Claire & Julius (2 students from our programs), Lena (board member), and me (our director)! The event was a huge success, especially for our first try! More than 50 guests attended and we raised over $10,000 in gifts and pledges.

THANK YOU!!!! To everyone who helped, attended, and contributed, you made a huge difference for Urban Sprouts! Here are some photos, and for more visit our Flickr page.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Our Staff

Abby Jaramillo, Executive Director. abby AT
I've worked as a gardener and educator in the Bay Area for the past eight years. I started Urban Sprouts at Luther Burbank Middle School in 2004 with my colleague and friend Michelle Ratcliffe and a group of dedicated teachers. I love Urban Sprouts because I can share with young people the kinds of outdoor gardening experiences that changed my life when I was a teen, trying to find peace in an urban environment. I've also worked on rural development projects in Ecuador and the Peruvian Amazon and worked in non-profit funds development at Streetside Stories. I was trained in organic horticulture at the UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden and studied Economics at Haverford College. I also hold my Masters of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.

Wendy Huang Landerholm, Garden Educator. wendy AT
Aptos Middle School, SF Community School, Ida B. Wells Continuation High School.
My passions in life are traveling, backpacking, and living sustainably. Adventures through China, India, and Nepal and then volunteering on an organic farm in Ecuador taught me the importance of connecting with the earth and with the people around us. I have worked as an educator for the past seven years, including with Americorps and Teach for America. I earned my Master of Education degree from the University of St. Thomas and my Post Master Special Educator degree from the University of Portland. I am especially excited to combine all my interests and be a part of Urban Sprouts!

Adriani Leon, Garden Educator. adriani AT
International Studies Academy & Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.
My love for environmental education comes from working for and living aboard the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater in New York City, writing and teaching about the ecology and conservation of the river. I bring my interest in plants and love of cooking to the Urban Sprouts youth and am excited to serve Spanish speaking families and help include them in the urban greening movement. I am a graduate of Brandeis University, where I was a leader in the Latino Student Association.

Ami Puri
, Garden Educator. ami AT
Log Cabin Ranch.
I am an educator, filmmaker, and urban gardener who works with adults and youth on bike education and urban sustainability. I believe that bikes are a great starting point to make the connections between food, transportation, and the creativity we need to transform our environments into healthy beautiful spaces for everyone. My background in urban gardening has been broadened through the Garden for the Environment's GCETP class, as a youth educator with Koshland garden, and through natural building and Permaculture courses with Kleiwerks and Aprovecho. My current work with Urban Sprouts centers the spokes of the past five years of work and learning I've been doing to mash community art, good food, and wholesome fun together!

Audrey Roderick, Community Programs Manager. audrey AT
For the past 10 years I've served as a community organizer and volunteer coordinator in San Jose, CA and Missoula, MT: at City Year, the Girl Scouts, a youth residential facility, and Girls for a Change. In Montana I also worked at Garden City Harvest, a production garden, community garden and garden-based education program.
Here at Urban Sprouts I manage our volunteers and our family involvement program, including our new family Farmers-in-Residence – school families growing their own food right in the school garden.