Our Results: 2010-2011

Accomplishments at a Glance

  1. Reached 809 students – more than ever before.
  2. Involved 10 Farmer-in-Residents families in growing their own food and additional families through cooking classes and events.
  3. Unveiled the new June Jordan school garden, transforming our original school garden into a 1/3 acre urban farm with chickens, 14 family garden beds, a native plants garden, and a professional 30-foot greenhouse.
  4. Opened a new student garden at Aptos Middle School and devoted the previous garden to school family use.
  5. Harvested 30 pounds of honey from the beehive at Ida B Wells High School.
  6. Doubled the scope of the garden program at Log Cabin Ranch, a residential youth detention facility, involving a new group of youth in building a new garden.
  7. 11 student interns at June Jordan and International Studies Academy became leaders through garden management and food access projects.
  8. Summer Sprouts took garden leadership to the next level, involving 28 students in gardening, cooking, peer education and job skills training.
  9. Received a commendation from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
  10. Garden poetry and an interview with youth from Log Cabin Ranch aired on public radio.

Accomplishments in the Garden

During the 2010-2011 school year, Urban Sprouts planned to reach 700 students in the 6th – 12th grades at six San Francisco public schools serving the city’s most under-served neighborhoods.

Urban Sprouts met this goal; we reached a total of 809 students at six schools; supported 10 families to grow food in their own garden plots; and involved an additional 22 school family members in cooking classes and events.

Urban Sprouts partnered with six schools: Aptos Middle School, International Studies Academy, Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School, June Jordan School for Equity, Ida B. Wells Continuation High School and Log Cabin Ranch (part of San Francisco’s juvenile justice system that includes a high school program).

These schools serve San Francisco neighborhoods including the OMI/Excelsior, Visitacion Valley, Portola, Bayview-Hunters Point, Potrero Hill, and Western Addition. Of students reached, 61% were low-income students, 95% were youth of color, and 66% were defined as educationally disadvantaged by the San Francisco Unified School District.

We provided the following activities in 2010-2011:

New and Expanded School Gardens
Urban Sprouts assisted three of our partner schools to significantly expand their school gardens. At June Jordan, Urban Sprouts’ very first school garden, we broke ground on a new one-third acre garden including 14 garden plots, a 30-foot greenhouse, a chicken coop, and a 9-foot community dining table. Aptos Middle School unveiled a new student garden that is accessible for disabled students, enabling us to devote the original garden to school family use. Also, we built a new production garden at Log Cabin Ranch, enabling us to double the number of residents involved.

In class Garden-based Education
Over 809 students participated in Urban Sprouts’ core garden-based education program that takes place during science classes or gardening elective classes. The garden-based classes meet for at least one hour every other week throughout the school year for a total of 20 hours of participation for every student. Each session was led by the Garden Educator and included interactive academic learning and garden work. Every student experienced the full process of planting, growing, harvesting and eating crops from the school garden at least three times during the school year. Read some thank you letters from students!

Classes participated in field trips to nearby educational farms including Pie Ranch and Alemany Farm. Students created action projects to increase school families’ access to fresh and healthy food including: a garden-grown produce give-away cart at June Jordan; and produce tastings to increase participation at the Food Bank pick up site at International Studies Academy. In addition, students at Log Cabin created poetry about the school garden which was selected to air on NPR’s Fresh Greens, a radio program about youth and the environment.

Family Programming
Opportunities for school families included growing food, attending cooking classes, and participating in community events. A total of 10 families from three schools participated in the Farmers-in-Residence program and grew their own food in plots within the school garden. Urban Sprouts provided training, all materials needed, and a modest stipend for each participating family. A total of 22 families attended cooking classes we hosted at school sites, facilitated by chef-educators from the Cooking Matters program, a collaboration with the Pacific Coast Farmers Market. We also provided nutrition education outreach tables at community events including the Excelsior Health Fair, Family Resource Day at the Bayview Y, and the Mission Community Market.

Evaluation and Outcomes

In 2008-09, Urban Sprouts conducted in-depth program evaluation. These results are included in our 5-year report. Also that year, results from the original study that led to our creation were published in a public health journal. (click links to download)

Our 2009-2010 results are summarized here; our latest results will be ready by July 2011.

Urban Sprouts conducted surveys, focus groups, and key informant interviews to determine the degree of students’ new knowledge, attitudes and behaviors after participating in our programs. Urban Sprouts’ objectives included increases in students’ ecoliteracy, environmental awareness, and preferences for consuming fruits and vegetables.

After participating in Urban Sprouts’ programs:

  • Students said their preference for fruits and vegetables had increased; 86% of respondents reported liking new fruits or vegetables that they tried for the first time.
  • Students said that their fruit and vegetable consumption increased; 60% of responses indicated that students eat more fruits and vegetables than previously.
  • Students said that their physical activity levels increased; 62% of responses indicated that students exercise more than they did before.

In their own words, during focus groups students described the outcomes of Urban Sprouts’ programs in these ways:

  • “Instead of me drinking soda, I make fresh orange juice.”
  • “Eat a little bit more organic stuff like healthy drinks.”
  • “You would be motivated to come to class, you wouldn’t be like this is just another day.”

Lessons Learned

Urban Sprouts’ greatest strengths this year were: reaching more students while greatly developing and expanding the school gardens, even in a time of severe economic challenges; our results showing real impacts for youth in terms of health and wellness; and creating new leadership and training opportunities for program participants and staff, contributing to our maturity as an organization. Urban Sprouts was recognized this spring for our accomplishments through a Commendation from San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

The greatest challenges stemmed from the context of the schools and the communities we serve. The under-served schools we serve are experiencing financial challenges greater than we’ve faced before; schools have less funds to cover our programs but need our services more than ever. We are making plans to restructure our school partnerships to help schools to invest in their own garden programs without spending more school funds, while mobilizing more community resources to keep the gardens going.

Additionally, recruiting family program participants was challenging, so we continued to fine-tune program offerings to meet families’ needs and constraints. In fall 2011 we’ll kick off our redesigned family program. We’ll still provide cooking classes and on-site garden plots for families. We have added a peer education outreach team that will train family members and students to bring garden-based nutrition education to their peers at school and community events. Finally, we’ve learned a lot about the sensitive nature of discussing family food choices so that parents feel empowered and not criticized. Our new curricular materials and training for the family program reflect this learning.

Amazing Volunteer Support

Urban Sprouts recruited community members to develop the gardens through work days and to volunteer in classrooms during garden-based lessons. Classroom volunteers lowered the youth-adult ratio from as high as 32:1 to as low as 5:1. In total, 13 classroom volunteers provided over 1,175 hours of support to students in the school garden. In addition, volunteers from 8 corporate and community volunteer groups including Wells Fargo, Levi Strauss, AOL, the University of San Francisco, and Google contributed 3,000 person-hours helping to maintain the gardens and build and install new garden beds, pathways, signs, tables, irrigation systems, and the new greenhouse.

2010-2011 Volunteers:

in progress in progress in progress


Levi Strauss
University of San Francisco
Wells Fargo

Major Grant Support

Grants from these foundations, local government agencies, and state agencies make our work possible.

Read more here about our funders, donors, and business supporters, including this year’s successful Greens, Eggs, & Jam Fundraiser Brunch!

Archive of Urban Sprouts’ Past Results