Monthly Archives

July 2015

Three cheers for our volunteers!

By | Community Support

We are so lucky here at Groundwork to not only be surrounded with such great people in a special community, but to have the help of truly wonderful volunteers. Thanks to them, we’re able to make the great strides that we do! Today we celebrated our fantastic volunteers at the first Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Bravo to Luke, Valarie, Jeanne and Andrew! In case you haven’t yet met, here’s a little bit that makes each of them so special.

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Luke, Jeanne, Valarie and Andrew received awards from Education Director JoAnna as Earthlab Volunteers of the Year!

Jeanne Bredestege
Without a complaint, Jeanne has cheerfully collected seeds, tackled pests, mixed soil, mended the propagation hut, and even gone out to Lakeside to purchase a truckload of soil. One day she helped moved 3 yards of soil across the Earthlab, bucket by bucket! Among her many talents, she is now adding teaching to her repertoire. She has just joined the DEEP Summer Literacy Program as our newest intern. Rather than consider her a volunteer, we see her as a team member, working with us to advance our projects.

Valarie Reece
Valarie sought us out and we are so lucky! She is open-minded and flexible about the project overall. She is so generous with her time, and is using the experience to prepare to cultivate her own fields. She even brings her own plants from home for us to add to the garden! She has an amazing gift with trees and we are happy to call her our EarthLab Arborist.

Luke Duesbery
Much of the infrastructure, from the solar panels to the aquaponics system, greenhouse, fencing, and paint are all the work of Luke. With his research experience as an SDSU professor, he continues adding to his work with rain catchment and graywater systems planned for next year. His wild spirit is a pleasure to be around.

Andrew Rae
Andrew’s creative juices have taken Earthlab activities from Balboa Park to the international border. Representing the San Diego Art Institute, he has turned blanks walls at the EarthLab into a vibrant mural while involving students in the process. He keeps dreaming of more projects like a totem pole, mosaic wall, and fence murals. His partnership has brought our students incredible opportunities for creativity and growth.

A Prickly Project

By | Community Support

Our native prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis) has a bad case of cochineal scale. The white fluff is covering the pads and causing them to dry out and break down. We are working to eradicate this insect infestation by scrubbing it off the cacti pads, but that requires carefully navigating the prickly pear’s sharp spikes. This awful chore could only be achieved by an absolutely awesome volunteer… Jeanne, our Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture summer intern, has spent several tedious days on this and is making steady progress. Thank you, Jeanne!

– Lorraine Kelley

Jeanne bravely volunteers to remove cochineal scale from the cacti at the native propagation center

Jeanne bravely volunteers to remove cochineal scale from the cacti at the native propagation center

A Stroll in the Canyon

By | Community Support

Over the past few weeks I have had the wonderful opportunity to be out in Radio Canyon and neighboring Encanto Canyon on a regular basis. Our project has been to collect field data to measure the success of the recent coastal cholla (Cylindropuntia prolifera) habitat restoration efforts. All it takes is a walk through the canyons to clearly see how successful it has been – the native plants are thriving and new plants can be seen all around. You should take a stroll through the canyon and check out just how beautiful it looks!

– Charlotte Carter

 

Sweeping view of Radio Canyon

Sweeping view of Radio Canyon from the restoration area

School’s in For Summer

By | Community Support

Voice of San Diego’s Mario Koran highlights Groundwork’s summer education program as a model for improving success throughout the school year. An insightful article about reversing the trend of summer learning digression and the future of neighborhood vitality in San Diego…

 

http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/education/the-learning-curve-schools-in-for-summer-just-not-in-enough-places/

 

“More than 80 percent of the kids who attend this program make gains in reading by the end of summer.”

 

Bountiful Harvest

By | Community Support

Summer is here and so is more fresh produce! The compost is steaming and the sunflowers are blooming (and 15 feet tall!)  At the EarthLab farm we’re pulling in a bumper crop of radishes, zucchini, cucumbers and more.  Next up on the horizon, we’re planting corn, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.  All those hot weather favorites should be available in the next few months, and we’re looking forward to sharing our bounty with the community!

– Adam Graves

 

Fresh summer produce from the EarthLab Farm

Fresh summer produce from the EarthLab Farm

Jojoba!

By | Community Support

This weekend’s torrential rains gave unexpected relief to our pioneering native plants out in the canyon. Back at the propagation center where it all begins, we cleaned and planted the seeds of jojoba or “goat nut” (Simmondsia chinensis). This handy shrub is found in the California wilderness, and is also available at your local pharmacy in many of the moisturizers we use every day. When propagators take off the papery coat, the seeds inside look a lot like hazelnuts. We’re crossing our fingers that most of these seeds will germinate!

– Lorraine Kelley

Jojoba seeds planted at the propagation center this week

Elementary Scientists

By | Community Support

Another exciting day outside at the EarthLab!

Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) students came out for a fun-filled day of environmental conservation and outdoor education science activities. Students had the chance to experiment with different scientific tools such as binoculars, bug boxes and magnifying glasses. Some activities included the bird observation station, Small World – collecting and investigating insects – a variety of arts and crafts, seed planting, and trail exploration.

Student Scientists investigate insects on native foliage.

Student Scientists investigate insects on native foliage.

We all had a great time exploring the EarthLab together and enjoyed the next fieldtrip this Friday!

– JoAnna Proctor

FarmBlog: Radishes and Zucchinis are in!

By | Community Support

The farm is flourishing and the produce is beginning to flow!  As part of our lovely summer program, we have harvested a fresh crop of swiss chard, zucchini, cucumber, radishes and pumpkins and given them away to our teachers, students and parents.

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It’s all part of our plan to help support the community, promote healthy eating and supply affordable, nutritious foods.  It was gratifying for us, as an organization, to see all the food get taken by the end of the day.  There’s obviously a demand for this type of produce in our area and we were happy to be able to provide it.  Look forward to more giveaways in the future!

 

 

Quenching Hopes

By | Community Support

Amidst the cries of “Statewide drought!”, summer thunderbolts crack and rain drops fall on plump, tart elderberry clusters. This year has been full of unexpected weather, but no surprise will stop us from charging forward at Groundwork. We have all of the inspiration we need in the new growth we see all around us.

Student Scientists build a structure with fronds on hand.

Student Scientists build a structure with fronds on hand.

Earthlab student scientists sift through their surroundings; they find acorns tucked beneath the leaves, massive harlequin beetles, and scurrying lizards. There are treasures waiting at every corner, and their curiosity and excitement draws them in!

 

In my first week here I have had the pleasure of meeting Groundworkers, Earthlab Scientists and local residents. This organization has welcomed me so warmly and I look forward with excitement to giving all that I can to the communities of Chollas Creek!

 

– Joel Kramer

Native Plant Seed Collection

By | Community Support

There are over 2000 one-gallon plants in the EarthLab’s native plant growing area.    Many of these plants were propagated by cuttings but most have been grown from local seed.   Even though the growing area is full of plants we are already thinking about planting for next year.   We started collecting seed for next season’s crop of native plants in May and will continue to collect seed throughout the summer.  There are a dozen native species from which we will collect and store seed.  All plants grown from this seed will be replanted into the canyons as part of our restoration efforts.

Today we gathered seed heads from Salvia mellifera (Black Sage) in the EarthLab.   These seed heads will be filtered through several screens to remove seeds from plant waste.  The small brown seeds will be stored in a cool, dry place until needed.