Staff Blog

Community Solar Coming Soon!

By | Community Solar, Staff Blog, Uncategorized | No Comments

Climate change hits low income communities the hardest, disproportionately affecting these families with problems such as heat waves, high energy/water costs, outdoor and indoor air pollution. Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek has developed plans for an innovative Advanced Energy Community in the Chollas Creek Watershed to bring residents accessible, affordable, green energy and improve air quality.  It is being called the Chollas EcoVillage (pictured below), and will be one of the first in California.

Access to solar energy in under-served communities was made possible recently when the California Public Utilities Commission approved a new low-income solar program to be required from utilities such as SDG&E.  For the first time, going solar will become an available and affordable option for tens of thousands of low-income Californians who live in economically and environmentally at-risk communities. The program will offer subscriptions to community solar projects for renters and others that lack roof space or the financial flexibility to install solar.

The Chollas EcoVillage will be the site of a large solar project, most likely a bundle of solar panels on a commercial parking lot carport, called Community Solar. Groundwork will help build the solar installation, and SDG&E will make the energy available to the community at A 20% BILL DISCOUNT!

Groundwork is encouraging residents the Chollas Creek Watershed, as well as San Diegans who live outside the watershed, to take a survey on the Groundwork website to tell SDG&E they want community solar NOW!

Chollas EcoVillage

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!


Groundwork Crew – July

By | Staff Blog

Alex Garcia

The month of May has come and gone. For the most part, everything at EarthLab was as usual. As is the case on a day to day basis. More tasks to add to the list and more tasks to check off the list. Although, the list keeps growing no matter how many times one checks off tasks.

This month, however, was a little more challenging. We were faced with a  water crisis for 1-2 weeks. We had no water at EarthLab which means no way to water the newly planted seeds at the farm and no way to water the plants at the propagation center or the conservation garden. Because of this, quite a few plants didn’t make it and a lot of seeds didn’t sprout at the farm.

After having to order a water truck and getting the water back up and running, all plants are doing a lot better! We have newly planted seeds and a lot of the plants that looked dead have new green leafs! Even though we observe plants as being fragile they are pretty resilient!

Jacob Brownwood

June at the Earthlab has been an exciting month for the nursery and farm! Our rows have been planted, peaches are hanging from trees, and baby plants are emerging from the soil in our propagation center. With the help of two wonderful interns from City College and High Tech High School, along with several Saturday volunteers, our ever-growing number of hands are making things happen!

JoAnna Proctor

June has been a very exciting month for EarthLab Education. All of our participating elementary schools successfully completed their Spring NGSS Science Units across grades 3, 4 & 5.  Young scientists from Horton, Johnson, Baker, Balboa, and Chollas-Meade explored and experimented, while interacting with our beautiful nature space. Several MTM middle school students were awarded special EarthLab Awards for their dedication and commitment to EarthLab projects and programs. Programs included our EarthLab Club, community service projects, and our new “Energizing Our Future” program, where students served as ambassadors to teach the community how to save energy and water at home. Our EarthLab awardees included Meilany, Ashley, Raul, Deja, Adriana, Andrea, Brandan, Nala, Kaya, Eduardo, and Bryan. Congratulations to our EarthLab Keepers!

Looking forward to both of our EarthLab Summer Academies starting soon!

Groundwork Staff attends SDGE Environmental Champions Luncheon

By | Staff Blog
 Joel Kramer & Patrice Baker, Groundwork Staff & Pedro Villegas, Director of Regional Public Affairs

Joel Kramer & Patrice Baker, Groundwork Staff & Pedro Villegas, Director of Regional Public Affairs

On March 11, 2016, we attended the SDG&E Environmental Champions Kickoff Luncheon and were excited to hear about the launch of new cutting-edge, energy-saving solutions and clean transportation programs. It was great to re-connect with some and meet other environmental partners, as well as, to hear from like-minded leaders about the many innovative programs made possible by the contributions of SDGE. Kudos to Morgan Justice Black, Community Relations Manager on a great lunch and an information packed program. Mike Schnieder, SDGE VP of Operations, shared details of the clean transportation initiative opportunity that will increase the use of energy saving electric vehicles. He stated that 200 employees currently own electric cars and he hopes that number will increase 500 by the end of this year.


Energy Savings from SDGE

Find energy savings at home! Watch this video for tips on how to find the savings in your home. If your’re not sure where to begin, complete the online home energy audit on My Account. #espsdge

Groundwork ED Reynolds Honored As Woman of the Year

By | Staff Blog

On March 18, Senator Ben Hueso  honored Groundwork San Diego-Chollas Creek Executive Director Leslie Reynolds and five other leaders  in celebration of the 2016 Women of the Year Awards, an annual tribute to exceptional women from his district. “Senator Hueso is a true Chollas Creek Watershed champion, and we thank him for all he has done for our creek and our communities.

The awardees were recognized in the categories of education, civic engagement, health, arts and culture, business and the environment.   The honorees were: (1) Dr. Karen Janney, Superintendent, Sweetwater School District; (2) Marla Cooper, Lead Organizer, Juneteenth Celebration; (3) Myleen Abuan, Program Coordinator, Operation Samahan; (4) Claudia Sandoval, Celebrity Chef and Philanthropist; (5) Alejandra Mier y Teran, Executive Director, Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce; and (6) Leslie Reynolds, Executive Director, Groundwork San Diego.  “I am honored to be presenting these outstanding women with the 2016 Women of the Year Award,” stated Senator Hueso. “They have proven that dedication and hard work can lead to exceptional results.  They have raised the bar in many ways and I am thrilled to celebrate their passion.  I commend and respect them for all that they do for our community.”     The Annual Women of the Year event is considered a prestigious recognition for women throughout the State of California.  The event brings together dynamic women who are inspirational and remarkable leaders.

Farmer Adam’s Farewell

By | Staff Blog

After almost a year with Groundwork San Diego, it’s time for me to say goodbye and move to my next big challenge. When I was originally tasked with building a farm on the east end of the property, I was overwhelmed by the opportunity and the support that the Groundwork staff afforded me. I will never forget the openness and kindness with which I was received, and how unstoppable the Groundwork team is in their mission to improve southeast San Diego.

As I move on to a new position as a browse horticulturalist at the San Diego Zoo, I appreciate that Groundwork took a chance on me, and became the springboard from which I could launch into my chosen career. I’ll miss working at the farm site (and will be checking on it regularly) and I have the utmost faith that the project we started will continue on, and ultimately serve the Chollas Creek area with education, nutrition and urban agriculture.

A final big “Thank You” to everyone I’ve met during my time here, and a piece of advice:

When you start getting discouraged and question whether or not you’re making a difference, take a moment to step back and look at all you’ve accomplished. Chances are you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come.

‘Bye Everyone!


– Farmer Adam Graves

Charlotte’s Farewell

By | Staff Blog

After arriving in San Diego from the United Kingdom for the very first time earlier this year, I quickly learned that not only was the weather beautiful but so were the natural landscapes in and around this city. My internship at Groundwork San Diego over the past six months has provided me with an amazing opportunity to get my hands dirty collecting field data out in the canyons, teaching habitat conservation at Groundwork’s very own EarthLab and creating a pollinator garden at the Del Mar Fairgrounds! Working alongside the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff I have gained so much from you all, and I want to thank you for this experience and opportunity!

– Charlotte Carter

Charlotte Carter smiles as brightly as the sun on Radio Canyon Day

Charlotte Carter smiles as brightly as the sun on Radio Canyon Day