Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Play Structure Dedication Ceremony

By | Community Support, Farm

When the EarthLab Climate Education Center was established years ago, we envisioned a place that would grow alongside the growth of our community. This dream is alive today, as we work on revamping the EarthLab to welcome more programming and opportunities for the future of climate action. To this end, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. – Epsilon Xi Omega Chapter San Diego made their mark at the beginning of the month.

On May 5th, we were blessed to have a dedication ceremony for the new butterfly play-structure that the AKA Sorority so generously donated to the EarthLab. Speakers from AKA, Groundwork, the Office of Juan Vargas, and more, shared their kind words to honor the work we’ve all been doing towards climate justice and education in the Chollas Creek Watershed region and beyond.

We had a wonderful time being inspired by these amazing women, and the dedication ceremony was concluded by releasing butterflies into the EarthLab, where there are sure to find joy among the colorful flowers in our Native Plant Garden. We were all so excited to christen the butterfly play structure with the butterfly release, and at the end of it all I think everyone present felt hope and determination towards the mission of expanding the climate education and career opportunities for the local youth. Thank you Alpha Kappa Alpha for your incredible donation and strong energy! Generations of EarthLab students will be able to enjoy your gift to our community. Enjoy the photos below.


The Chollas Creek Watershed Student Ambassadors Take Action!

By | Community Support, Farm


Thanks to the generous support from SDG&E’s Environmental Champions program, Groundwork partnered with students from two Lincoln Cluster schools (Chollas Mead and Millennial Tech Middle School) to engage over four hundred students in climate action awareness and education. Students learned the causes of, and developed solutions to, climate change.  They used their own watershed, the Chollas Creek Watershed, to understand the potential threats of climate change to their neighborhoods and to the larger San Diego region.  Field trips to the Birch Aquarium and Torrey Pines State Park provided students with information about the science of climate change, and a regional perspective on how family activities upstream in the watershed affect San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

As part of their climate action campaign, students developed presentations to families and community leaders on the value of drought-tolerant landscaping and healthy habitats to healthy planet, and completed home audits to give families a chance to make a difference.

Millennial Tech Middle School students thank SDG&E.


Alex at the EarthLab: February

By | Farm

Hello From Groundwork!

Our outdoor climate action center, the EarthLab, is now open on Saturdays  from 9am to noon, so please come see our students and volunteers in action, or lend a hand.  Here is an  update from our EarthLab manager, Alex Garcia, on some of the EarthLab comings and goings.

Hi everyone! Hope you all enjoyed your holidays and hope you all have started 2018 with a bang! A positive bang that is! Yes, I’m aware, it’s already been 3 months since we started 2018. So, without further ado, let me update you a little bit on what has been happening at EarthLab.

One of those tasks was to plant some Sycamore and some Willow trees by the creek. Not sure if you all remember but a few months ago we got some help from the marines during fleet week as well as some help from NASSCO. They helped clean up the creek by removing all the weeds and trash. Now that the creek is all clear we decided to plant some trees! Not much to look at, at the moment, since they aren’t fully grown. But, take a look…..

Well, since we are talking about the creek, let me show you what else I have been up to. About a year ago we started seeing some paw prints appearing on the seed trays that we have over at the native plant propagation center. We also started seeing some of the plants that we have in 1 gal pots tipped over, as well as scat. But, most frustrating of all, our irrigation pipes were torn. All of this was occurring pretty much on a daily basis. The culprit: coyotes! Well, there is an opening by the south end of the creek covered by, what I will refer to as, a grate. The grate had big enough openings for a coyote, even big enough for a human, to squeeze through. So I decided to cover it up with some chicken wire and Wholla! Problem solved! Until, a few weeks back when someone decided to pull it apart. Our coyote friends are very clever…next move is theirs!


Let’s go ahead and change scenery and head over to the propagation center. Something that I haven’t or perhaps briefly mentioned is that we are working on a project called the I.R.W.M project. To keep it brief, my role is to help in the installation of native plants at homes in the Encanto neighborhood. Some of the plants we propagate and some we acquire. Recently, we acquired some soft agave but, we can’t just go and plant them right away. They need to be aired dried until the soft inner tissue calluses over. Check it out….

Well, that’s it for now. See you all next time!

EarthLab Education Corner: November

By | Farm, Public Service, Staff Blog, Upcoming Events


November and December have been incredibly busy and successful months. So many smart students from all of our participating schools! Seventh graders from MTM took a field trip to the Torrey Pines Reserve to learn about native habitats and plant and animal adaptations. The Canyoneers hosted the trip and their trail guides were great. Fourth graders from Chollas-Meade just finished a unit on Climate Action and Stormwater Pollution.

What amazing environmental stewards these students have become. Sixth graders from MTM concluded their unit on Water Quality & Conservation, with an interactive, vibrant four day visit from the San Diego County Office of Education’s Splash Lab. Thanks to their teachers for such a successful course.

ProKids just finished a three month curriculum on Pollinator Gardens and Environmental Conservation. EarthLab Education Director, JoAnna Proctor, received an award from ProKids, Role Model of the Year! The awards ceremony was filmed and showcased on the Golf Network.

EarthLab’s new “Sunshine Storytime” for families is a brilliant new partnership program with Malcolm X Library. Thanks to Miss Cassie for her collaboration and dedication.

Finally, EarthLab’s “Saturday Science & Service Club” is going strong, with each Saturday offering a unique set of experimental, hands-on activities for students and their families. It has been an educational and successful year thus far, and we are all looking forward to more fun and learning in 2018. Wishing all of our friends, supporters, partners, teachers, administrators, staff, students, and families a beautiful holiday season and a brilliant new year. Happy Holidays!


EarthLab Soon to be Encanto Gateway!

By | Farm

After years of collaboration with CalTrans and the City of San Diego, and the help of our community’s strong and effective voice, Groundwork is pleased to announce that the dangerous Euclid South SR 94 offramp will soon undergo a major transformation.

Current Layout:

Modeled after the Massachusetts Ave SR 94 offramp down the road, Euclid South offramp will become a cloverleaf onto Euclid Ave. At the new stop light at Euclid and the offramp, drivers will be able to safely and easily travel north or south onto Euclid.  And the very first thing drivers will see at that stoplight is our EarthLab, our ever-improving community garden and youth and family climate action center.

Approved Plan:

click to enlarge images

Alex at the EarthLab: November

By | Farm


Heeeelllllllllooooooo everyone! Alex here, checking in from EarthLab!

Not many interesting things happened at EarthLab this month but still managed to find a few things to share with you all. So, let’s jump right into it………….

I can’t quite recollect if I have shared any pictures of the many fungi that appear throughout EarthLab. But, just in case I haven’t, here are a few.

This one, I found growing on a tree trunk of a cut down tree. It had a very foamy appearance to it with a white and yellow gradient on it. I kept coming back to check on the evolution of this fungus and everyday the yellow on its edge became darker and more pronounced. After a few days the smooth transition of its gradient from white to yellow had changed. It had become a darker tone of yellow with more defined edges. It almost looked like it had a ring similar to the rings of Saturn! Unfortunately, I did not get to capture this amazing transformation of its later stage but I do have a picture of its initial look.


When the plants we have on pots at EarthLab don’t make it, we empty the soil onto a pile for later use. There has been quite a few times when we start to see plants grow from this mount of soil. Here we have some buckwheat and a few mushrooms. Check out the pretty cool looking texture on its surface!!

Moving on to some critter images. Ever heard of Peritoma arborea? What about its most common name, bladderpod? Well then, let me inform you a bit! Bladderpod is a perennial shrub. Perennial meaning that it grows and blooms over the spring and summer, and dies back every autumn and winter. This plant has a foul smelling odor from chemicals it produces to discourage insects from eating it. However, that doesn’t stop these critters from hanging around! These are known as Harlequin bugs. Not to confuse them for the Batman character Harley Quinn! Not sure what the reason is but these harmless bugs LOVE these shrubs! I guarantee you that you will find more than 30 at any given moment!



Moving on to our next critter, we have this finger nail size grasshopper. Such a cute little critter. Can’t say the same for the bigger ones. I’m just not too fond of their bigger counterpart.

Well, that’s it for today! Come check in next month for more EarthLab fun!


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.

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.