We have been working with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), Chlorox Foundation, and Numi Foundation to provide gardening support and mentorship to afterschool programs throughout Oakland for the past 4 years.
We help install gardens, and provide materials such as soil, seed and plant starts, and garden tools. We also hold teaching workshops for afterschool instructors, and share teaching kits and curriculum. We support with maintenance of gardens and provide all the support we can for their success!
This year, in response to the pandemic, we are supporting teachers around the district to become Outdoor Educators, as a way to keep everyone safe while giving students opportunities for outdoor independent and remote learning, with a focus on how to teach science outdoors.
We have been working in close partnership with the Trust for Public Land to design and run schoolyard greening projects at OUSD schools. We conduct a design process with the school's staff, partner organizations, and community members, with the goal to create and/or expand green spaces on campuses. This often includes removing asphalt, restoring soil, planting trees, and building outdoor learning spaces for students to comfortably gather, play, and learn outside. We involve the community in every step, and do plantings with students and their teachers during schooldays and at community workdays. We have completed major garden expansion projects at Markham Elementary and Melrose, with several more projects currently in process.
Food Access at Schools
During the last school year, we were also running produce stands at three OUSD schools – Manzanita SEED, Global Family, and Markham Elementary. The purpose of these stands was to bring fresh food to our families and give students experiential learning opportunities to build financial literacy and entrepreneurship. With help from our school communities, Mandela Partners produce distributors, and our donors including the Numi Foundation and Clorox, these produce stands were a great success, selling 1,000 pounds of fresh produce every week - ensuring that students and families had access to fresh, nutritious food on a regular basis.
FARMS TO COMMUNITIES
In response to the pandemic in March 2020, we rapidly shifted from our school-based farm stands to a delivery model, to ensure families would continue to have access to good food, while supporting local farmers as well. We partnered with Numi Foundation, the Salesforce Foundation, Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation, the TomKat Foundation, and OUSD to make it happen, and currently deliver to 3,200 families a week! To read more about the program and to get involved please visit our Farms to Communities website. You can sign up for a weekly fresh produce delivery, with a "buy-one, give-one" model, or request a low-cost delivery for you and your family.
Fruit Tree Planting at Schools
Since our founding, we have worked with OUSD and FoodCorps to plant fruiting and native trees at OUSD campuses. Some of the notable campus installations we have worked on include Castlemont, Westlake, Stonehurst, Hoover, Manzanita/SEED, ASCEND, and many more - over 40 schools! These were primarily California ReLeaf funded projects, funded through GHG reduction funds.
We are currently collaborating with our friends at Common Vision to run OAKTOWN TREES - a fruit tree distribution program with partner schools and teachers around the Oakland area. Click for more info.