EarthLab Education Corner: October

By | Farm


October was an amazing month, filled with a variety of stimulating, interactive activities for our Lincoln Cluster students.

Webster, Chollas-Meade and Johnson elementary schools participated in our Elementary Science Star program. Topics included Astronomy, Geology and Hydrology.

MTM 6th grade science students are currently participating in our new Water Quality & Conservation program. Other MTM 6th grade historians learned how to make Stone Age tools and shelters. EarthLab was proud to host an incredible community service day with 100 Navy personnel and 120 MTM students for Fleet Week. We planted a brand new 40 tree orchard. It is gorgeous!

One of our finest accomplishments is the implementation of our new Saturday EarthLab Club: Science & Service. The community is welcome to join us each Saturday from 9:30-11:30am to learn experimental, exploratory science which is interactive, educational and stimulating.

We are also proud to announce a new partnership with Malcolm X library, which provides a monthly literacy activity for preschoolers outside at the EarthLab. The first Tuesday of each month, 10-11am, families are invited to bring their little ones to the EarthLab for Sunshine Story Time. Activities will include a story and interactive arts & crafts surrounding nature topics.

There is always so much to learn at the EarthLab and we appreciate all of the support and collaboration the community shows us. We look forward to another busy month ahead of us.

It Takes a Village

By | Project Updates


Our Commercial Outreach Team Member, Robert Carr, shares with us the goal of bringing commercial establishments on board with the Net Zero Energy plan for the EcoVillage. Interspersed among the words are photos of our neighbors

To borrow from the proverb that “it takes a village…”, in this case it literally will take everyone in our Chollas Creek Ecovillage to create a Net Zero Energy (ZNE) community.  This will require residents and commercial businesses alike to create and adopt a lasting culture of climate action needed implement our goals.  Groundwork San Diego has already started engaging community residents helping them implement sustainable energy and water strategies.  Now the time has come to engage our commercial businesses, so that they can participate in our Ecovillage.

Commercial businesses within the Chollas Creek Ecovillage are important stakeholders due to the fact that they use approximately 41% of the electricity delivered to our area.  Without significant participation from these commercial businesses, our ZNE goal will be not be possible.  To that end, we at Groundwork have launched a campaign to educate and collaborate with commercial entities to promote implementing energy efficiency upgrades, driving electric vehicles, and switching to renewable energy sources.

Solar Canopies for commercial businesses create shade and generate clean renewable energy

To make our ZNE community a reality, a key step is to make sure our commercial building stock is as energy efficient as possible and being powered by renewable energy sources.  Many of these buildings were built years ago, and as a result are not as energy efficient as they can be.  Working with our partners, we hope to show Chollas Creek businesses ways to retrofit their buildings without impacting their bottom line.  Actually, our goal is to energize their bottom line since being energy efficient and using renewable energy will save these businesses money.   Imagine an Ecovillage where the free rooftop spaces of our supermarkets, doctor offices, and industrial buildings are covered with solar panels, providing clean renewable energy to energy efficient buildings and fleets of electric vehicles.

Stormwater capture bioswales are easily integrated into solar canopy designs

Thankfully there are many local and State incentives that can assist with the financial demands of these critical retrofits.  Groundwork’s commercial outreach includes educating commercial businesses what these financial incentives are and how they can take advantage of them.  We will be there every step of the way assisting our commercial stakeholders through this process.  However, we are not limiting our outreach to just energy. Storm water capture, potable water use and conservation will also be an integral piece of our message.  It is critical that the water-energy nexus be understood if our community is truly to become an Ecovillage.  There is lots of work to be done, but we are confident our village is up to the task.

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!