Neighbors Joining Neighbors: Walking Tour, October 21st

By | Project Updates


What a wonderful time we had when Neighbors joined Neighbors at the home of Stacy Sibownhewang for a presentation on the Chollas Eco Village Home Makeover Project.  All neighbors in attendance signed up to receive a home makeover, received a t-shirt and enjoyed the refreshments.

About a week before, we had another Waking Tour Celebration around the block. Our Neighbors Joining Neighbors Walking Tour Celebration took us from 752 Escuela Street to 5002 Lakiba Palmer.

We were excited to have Monica Montgomery, Community Leader, join us as we toured the completed homes and met residents along the way.

One of the highlights was seeing the 865 gallon rain barrel installed on Hilltop and Duval.

We were also joined by a resident who wanted to see examples of yards after being transformed with drought tolerate plants, trees and landscapes.  

Residents who had received the home makeover welcomed us into their yard, and shared their enthusiasm about the home and landscape upgrades they have received.

Our celebration walk ended at 5002 Lakiba Palmer – with laughter, some refreshments, and community fellowship.

Photographs were taken (and generously donated) by the owner of the 865 rain barrel, Mr. Charles Gay (pictured above).


Alex at the EarthLab: October

By | Farm


Below are photos of our freshly groomed EarthLab, the groups that helped clean it, and the wildlife that will benefit from it! Enjoy.


What a hot few days we have had here at EarthLab! Been sweating a bit, actually a lot, more than usual!

So what has happened since the last blog I posted? A LOT!!!

We had a lot of good changes at EarthLab and one sad change, well, for me it was sad.

Let’s get the sad one out of the way: we removed almost the entire farm that many of us had worked so hard to put together and harvest. No more Patty Pan Squash, cucumbers or okra. Was really hoping that it would not come to this.

However, there is a very good reason we removed the farm!
The reason being that we had to make room for the 44 tree orchard that we now have in place!! Yup, you read that right!! 44 trees!!!!! So what kind of trees did we get, you may ask???? We have persimmon, loquat, mulberry, guava, fig, pomegranate, macadamia nut and some grapes! Hmmmm….I might be forgetting a couple of other trees we might have gotten. Too many to keep track of.

The orchard was made possible by La Mesa Sunshine Rotary Club who donated all 44 trees! Apart from trees, we also received a donation from Toro who donated AND installed the irrigation for the orchard!! We also received a lot of help from NASSCO volunteers who helped get the holes ready and from 80 or so Navy volunteers during Fleet Week who helped plant the trees!

The good news doesn’t stop there! Not only did NASSCO and the Navy volunteers help with the orchard, they also helped with removing most of the weeds throughout the 4 acres that make up EarthLab. We are talking about weeds that had grown as tall as 6 feet! And by the way, we also had 120 students from Millennial Tech Middle School help out too!! So much help and very well appreciated! They all made a great difference! I don’t have before pics but here are some after pics:

We also had our seasonal creek cleaned out!!!! What a dream come true!!

On a completely different topic, let’s take a look at some nature findings at EarthLab.

First runner up we have the “white grub”. This is my first time seeing one. Ever wonder what a june bug beetle looks like before it becomes a beetle? Well now you know! An interesting fact about the white grub is that they crawl on their backs with their feet in the air. No wonder it kept trying to flip over when I was trying to take a picture of it. All this time I though it was trying to show me its best photogenic side! This reminds me, I gotta get my “grub” on………

2nd runner up we have the speedy rabbit. We have quite a few rabbits at EarhLab. I see them through out the day but specially in the mornings when I’m driving in with my truck. The noise scares them and all you can see at first glance is their white fluffy tail as they dart through the landscape.

3rd but, not least, we have the majestic hawk. Now, I’m not sure what kind of hawk it is but we have 3 or so at EarthLab. They have a nest up on one of the Eucalyptus trees and there will be times when I get to see them on a daily basis. It’s quite exciting seeing them fight with the crows, whom by the way have a nest not too far from the hawks nest. I was pretty lucky and was able to get within 15 or so yards from one of the hawks and managed to take a few pics. Enjoy!!!

To end this blog I will share with you this beautifully nature engineered squash from one of the last harvests. Did I mention it was beautiful?!

EarthLab Club: Science & Service

By | Farm, Upcoming Events

Welcome to the 2017/2018 school year!

We are thrilled about the many interactive, exploratory, scientific activities we have planned this year! One of our most exciting opportunities for students and families is our new Saturday EarthLab Club: Science & Service. Any and all members of the community are welcome to join us every Saturday at the EarthLab from 9:30-11:30am. There will be a trained teacher who will teach a fun, interactive, science activity for all ages. The last Saturday of each month will incorporate a service activity to benefit the community. So, bring yourself and your family to the EarthLab on Saturdays to have some fun and learn something cool!

Volunteer Day at the EarthLab Demonstration Garden

By | Farm, Upcoming Events

The EarthLab Demonstration Conservation Garden is on its way to becoming a community jewel in the 4th District. The first install of plants was February 25, 2017.

The second install and completion of design is
October 28, 2017, Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00.
Give back by volunteering on October 28th.
To access the garden:
Park off of Euclid Ave at Lakiba Palmer Ave.
Walk north up Euclid Ave to the Garden at the “EarthLab” Banner before the Hwy-94 off-ramp.
All tools and supplies provided, including hearty snacks for nourishment and drinks to quench your thirst. It will be fun, plus you will learn about the perfect drought tolerant plants, including Southern California natives that are perfect for urban yards.

Bring the whole family!
Hope to see you on October 28, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.

NASSCO Work Party

By | Farm, Upcoming Events


On Coastal Clean-Up Day, NASSCO CRC volunteers prepared the EarthLab for the 3000 Lincoln Cluster students who will be studying there this year.  As they have for multiple times a year over the past decade, these amazing, talented NASSCO employees rolled up their sleeves and transformed this outdoor learning space. Working side by side with our students, they cleaned and hauled and watered and did whatever was necessary to beautify the space.  A NASSCO event would not be complete without a tasty BBQ lunch, and a raffle for all in attendance. Thank you NASSCO for your selfless service and all you do for the children and families we serve.

Below are the lovely photos NASSCO has shared with us. Enjoy!

Alex at the EarthLab: Fauna Loves Flora, Flora Loves Fauna

By | Farm


We’re happy to bring you another update at the EarthLab from Alex, one of our farm managers (among other things). We’ve made the title “Fauna Loves Flora, Flora Loves Fauna.”, because when Alex shares images from the EarthLab, we’re blown away by the biodiversity that exists down there right off of Euclid. A new critter always appears, and a new crop is always flourishing, and both the plant life and the animal/bug life support each other in a beautifully mutual way. Thanks for sharing with everyone Alex!


It seems like it has been a while since I’ve checked in with everyone. Time to keep you all posted of what has been happening at Earth Lab!!!

One of the most exciting moments at EarthLab, this past month, was when I came across this praying mantis! First time seeing one up close and personal! It could not have been anymore than 3″ big. Pretty small fella’. Did you know that they only live for about a year?!

Also, found this critter as I harvested some tomatoes. Such a beautiful display of color and pattern on its back, don’t you agree?

The fun doesn’t end there with all the wild life we have at EarthLab. In my last blog there were a couple of pictures I took of the gigantic sunflowers we had. I’ve seen squirrels climb up the sunflower stocks to munch on the seeds and seen birds land on the flower to take their share. But boy was I amazed when I saw parakeets!!!! Not 1, not 2 but 4 parakeets! I guess I was really amazed because I’ve always thought of parakeets as a house companion rather than a bird you see out and about especially here in San Diego.

At the moment, our harvest continues with some delicious squash, okra, cucumbers, and tomatoes! The farm just keeps giving and giving.

There is so much that needs to get done at EarthLab! For example, moving and re-positioning a rain barrel with my 90 Toyota Pickup. 865gal water truck anyone?

Well, I hope you all enjoyed my blog this month! Now time to get back to work. Alex out!

Groundwork San Diego and SDG&E to Increase Science Education in Encanto through $20,000 Grant

By | Community Support


San Diego’s first days of school come with a big bonus for students in the Encanto neighborhoods of Southeast San Diego. Over four hundred school children in the Lincoln High School cluster will benefit from a $20,000 grant from SDG&E to support Groundwork San Diego’s Climate Ambassador program and further their science education.

“Our Encanto students, who are already learning much about science and the environment, will benefit even more from SDG&E’s outstanding support,” said Leslie Reynolds, Executive Director of Groundwork San Diego.  Reynolds added, “thousands of local San Diego students have already come to EarthLab to train as environmental stewards and this grant will ensure more youth will be ready to transform our community.”

The Chollas Creek Watershed Climate Ambassadors is a project of Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek and the San Diego Unified School District.  Ambassadors are local, K-12 students who participate in science educational activities at the EarthLab, our four-acre outdoor classroom, where students learn about our regional watersheds, and about environmental leadership. The goal of EarthLab is to prepare thousands of inner-city students to enter the global STEM job market and lead climate action.

Millennial Tech Middle School Principal Willie Neil and science teacher Sarah Hillard, along with students and Groundwork EarthLab Director JoAnna Proctor, were on-hand to receive the check from SDG&E Community Relations Manager Morgan Justice-Black.

Thanks SDG&E!


Muriel King Appointed to City Urban Forestry Advisory Board

By | Public Service

Groundwork San Diego is pleased to announce that one of our key staff members, Ms. Muriel King, has been appointed to the Urban Forestry Advisory Bd for the City of San Diego. Below is a statement she’s written about her new position. Congrats Muriel!

My name is Muriel King. I was recently appointed by the City of San Diego to represent District 4 as a board member on the City Urban Forestry Advisory Board. My appointment was influenced by years of work I performed in District 4 to improve the urban environment with drought tolerant trees, other plants and landscape maintenance in my own community of South Bay Terraces; and more recently the work I have performed at The EarthLab, located off Euclid to develop a Conservation Garden that will open to the public soon.

The City Urban Forestry Advisory Board was established as a vehicle to encourage the City to comply with its Climate Action Plan and more recently the Mayor’s motto “Neighborhoods First” for a healthier environment that is conducive to lowering city temperatures, reduce heat illness and provide places to be physically and socially active. This is in alignment with the efforts of the Urban Collaborative Project—to create, sustain and enhance better living environments. Trees and landscapes—not concrete make an environment a friendlier and safer place to live, which is the general purpose of many of you who are part of community organizations and civil service.

In addition to improved heath, research shows that greener spaces with trees create friendlier neighborhoods; therefore, safer neighborhoods.  Let’s create healthier and safer neighborhoods with greener spaces for people to relax, gather and enjoy outdoor activities. To start, you can request a drought tolerant, free tree or trees to have planted along your right of way through

Requests can also be done through the City’s Get It Done app. Select “New Report.” From the “service category”, select “Other.” Tap “Location” to provide the address for the free tree or trees. Enter FREE TREE in the description field. Enter full contact information in the “My Info field.” and submit.

The City also has a tree selection guide at that provides information about trees recommended for use in the public right-of-way.

Become a green space advocate with the use of drought tolerant plants and trees for greener, healthier friendlier and safer communities. Start today by contacting the City for a free drought tolerant tree!

Chollas Creek to Bayshore Bikeway Moves Forward!

By | Project Updates


The City Council approved funding to complete the final and a significant portion of construction drawings for the proposed 4,000-foot-long (approximately 0.75-mile) extension of the Chollas Creek multi-use path. This segment is the missing link that will connect the existing Chollas Creek bikepath to the Bayshore Bikeway as well as the MTS Trolley Stop.

The bike and pedestrian path would be situated along Chollas Creek and developed within public street rights-of-way.  The path would be 10 to 14 feet wide and would be developed as Class I (separate facility) and Cycle Track (separate facility) bicycle facilities, with the a Class III facility along a short stretch of Rigel Street.  Crossing signals would be installed at various locations to stop traffic and allow bicyclists and pedestrian to cross safely.  The project is the first in a series of trails aimed at connecting all Chollas Creek neighborhoods to San Diego Bay.

Two EarthLab Summer Academy Videos & Photos

By | Farm


With the conclusion of the UCSD Blum Summer Field Internship, the UC-Wide students came to deliver a presentation on the strengths of the Outdoor Summer Learning Academy, and their research on our EcoVillage project.

This presentation included this video that they produced with loads of beautiful moments from the Summer Academy, and with insightful interviews with the students, interns, and teachers:

After this presentation we sat down with Alon Ankonina, a UCSD student in the Blum program, to discuss the successes  of the Summer Learning Academy and the process of working with the multi-disciplinary team that produced the it:

Our Educational Director JoAnna Proctor had this to say about the Summer Learning Academy:

The EarthLab Summer Science Academy was a huge success, with over 50 students benefiting from the effective and powerful curriculum surrounding Water Quality & Water Conservation. Students strengthened their scientific literacy skills in vocabulary development, scientific illustration, and the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning process. Science notebook entries from Day 1 to Day 10 demonstrated significant improvement, supporting the efficacy of the program.

Each morning, student scientists explored, investigated, hypothesized, designed, and engineered various projects and experiments. Each afternoon, these same scientists traveled to partnering agencies to supplement their learning. The collaboration of students, teachers, university interns, parents, and educational partners truly enhanced the educational and social experience for everyone involved.  We hope to offer this program again next summer.

We want to extend our gratitude to UCSD and the Blum program, along with the wonderful humans who put their sweat and hearts into this work. The interns were incredible in action, and we commend them for their amazing efforts.