Monthly Archives

August 2017

Alex’s EarthLab Harvest

By | Farm


Time sure flies!

These last couple of weeks we harvested 130lbs of squash! It was very exciting for a couple of reasons.

  1. Because it was my first time harvesting any produce and…..
  2. Because there is nothing like being able to see the process and progress of a farm in person and being able to eat fresh produce straight from the farm! Hard work pays off!!!


But, the excitement doesn’t stop there. Harvested a second round of squash for almost a total of 300lbs all together including the first round! And, there is already more to harvest!

Apart from squash, we have ginormous sunflowers . Not only do we get to enjoy such an amazing flower but we also get to observe pollinators (bees) fertilizing the flowers.

What else you ask? Well let me tell you. Found a skull by the creek! Not sure from what animal it came from. Could belong to a gopher.

And, also found this interesting critter. Kind of looks like it has a horse shaped head in miniature form.


For the most part, it’s a lot of fun (and work) at EarthLab but, there are times when we are faced with challenges. A few months back we had no water at EarthLab which obviously means no water for the produce we are trying to grow or for the plants at the propagation center. Once again we face the same challenge. Luckily, we invested in a gas powered water pump that we can hook up to the rain barrels we have on site and to an over head sprinkler. It’s always important to have a plan B!

Daily life at EarthLab is quite an experience. You never know what awaits you!


UC Blum Interns at the EarthLab

By | Farm


Camille Campion, the coordinator for the Blum Summer Interns, tunes us in to the experience of the Blum Summer Field Internship.

This is the third year that a team of UCSD and UC-wide students have worked at the EarthLab during the Blum Summer Field Internship. The interns work in supervised interdisciplinary teams to conduct community-based research and participate in local ongoing collaborative projects.

The UCSD Blum Summer Field Interns have been working with the team of teachers, EarthLab staff, and 6th graders during the Science Academy. They are a group of 2nd to 4th year college students whose majors vary from environmental engineering to psychology. They have embraced this opportunity to teach and learn alongside the dedicated people involved in this program. As one intern expressed, “It’s been a joy to watch the kids grow at Summer Academy! Not only have they been learning about water quality and conservation, they are also developing personal opinions and stances about human’s relationship with the environment.”

For another, “Returning to my hometown San Diego for the summer to work in the EarthLab has been the greatest hands-on learning experience for me. The relationships I have built with local students, the Groundworks staff, teachers from local elementary schools and SDSU has reminded me why Southeast San Diego is such a special place.” Participating at EarthLab has been an invaluable experience on many levels for all involved!

Left to right: Alon, Kara, Aya, Rabiah, Kim, Aaron, Warren, Wilson

Wildlife at the Student Habitat Conservation Project

By | Farm


Under a grant provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 150 Lincoln Cluster fifth-grade students learned about the value of native plants and healthy habitats in support of area wildlife species. The students participated in the transformation of a vacant, weedy parcel adjacent to the Groundwork EarthLab Education and Climate Action Center. They cleared the land and planted native plants, and created a beautiful native plant and pollinator demonstration garden.  The area will be used for community workshops to demonstrate drought tolerant landscaping principles and the use of native plants to attract pollinators.



The garden is adjacent to the Chollas Creek tributary that runs through the EarthLab. Through the grant, the students installed wildlife cameras at the creek, and were able to observe the coyote family, and other wildlife, supported by the creek and the new garden. These images below show some of the more visible wildlife that is among the life at the Earthlab. Coyotes, possums, cats, rabbits and spiders all came by our motion-sensor camera.




Lenox Drive Vector Habitat Remediation Project

By | Project Updates

Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek has been awarded a competitive grant by the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health (DEH) under the Vector Habitat Remediation Program (VHRP) to construct the Lenox Drive Vector Habitat Remediation Project. Under the VHRP program, grant funding is

“…offered to landowners and managers, including public sector entities, to physically alter chronic mosquito breeding sites in ways that will reduce mosquito breeding habitats and improve the effectiveness of mosquito breeding control measures.  The Program provides a strong focus on designing, modifying and maintaining wetlands and stormwater facilities to function in a way that will reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding habitat while balancing water quality, biological, aesthetic and hydrological values.” [1]

The VHRP Grant will fund Phase II construction of the Lenox Drive project to remedy mosquito breeding pools in Chollas Creek. Stagnant water has formed as a result of deteriorated grade control structures immediately north of the Lenox Drive Bridge (see photo).


Due to the proximity of human activities (residential and recreational/hiking), mosquitos are a problem in this area; the County of San Diego Department Environmental Health (DEH) has identified this site as a high priority treatment area (Site 1702). The site is immediately adjacent to a residential community and is a known mosquito breeding habitat. In addition to the residences, hikers would also be affected by mosquito breeding habitat in this section of Chollas Creek.  This important project is a component of Groundwork San Diego’s overall watershed and water quality improvement program, and is part of enriching the experience of the Chollas Creek.


Second Round of Our Summer Academies Begins

By | Farm


This week kicked off the Groundwork Summer Learning Academy, a two-week intensive summer camp to prepare Lincoln Cluster 6th graders for academic success in middle school math and science. Rooted in the demonstrated success of informal STEM education, the program will serve sixty students at the EarthLab, Groundwork San Diego’s outdoor Climate Action Education Center. Students will be addressing San Diego’s regional water quality and water conservation challenges, designing systems and protocols to bring environmental benefits to their schools and neighborhoods.

The Program

The program will be led by Lincoln Cluster teachers, all of whom have trained throughout the Spring in the latest cutting edge STEM teaching practices. Teachers will lead students through a series of hand-on learning activities, supported by science journals. They will then escort students on a daily afternoon field trip. Field trip destinations are:

  • Whale watching
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Air and Space Museum
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Scripps Birch Aquarium
  • Fleet Science Center
  • Cuyamaca and Torrey Pines Nature Centers
  • Living Coast Discovery Center

The program will culminate in a student-led workshop to share with families and community leaders the responses students developed to the water issues. These will include:

  • Pollution caused by contamination of water by pesticides, fertilizers, gas/oil, and food waste
  • Overwatering lawns and shrubs
  • Excessive car washing in driveways
  • Soil erosion caused by uncontrolled water runoff.

Bringing it Home

Discussions will emphasize that continuing current water use trends will impact the region’s available potable water supplies and the individual families’ water costs. Parents and Discussion Leaders will discuss practices that the community can implement to contribute to water conservation in homes and schools:

·         Reducing the use of water and reusing water

·         Installing rain barrels

·         Installing systems that reuse greywater from washing machines to irrigate on-site landscaping

·         Landscaping with water-wise plants and native vegetation.