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Meaningful work for a greater tomorrow

Famed actress and humanitarian Audrey Hepburn once said “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  This quote resonates true even today as there are over 40 community gardens actively managed and supported by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (SFRPD), with the core mission of providing access to sustainable, affordable, and healthy food sources to disadvantaged  families while also advancing collaborative communities and impacting social cohesion.    These gardens also inspire and encourage families to share in the maintenance effort and empower them to be stewards of nature in their local neighborhood.

Belief and hope for our future is one of many reasons why over 30 of us chose to volunteer at the La Grande Community Garden Project.   On this beautiful Saturday morning in August, we committed our time and energy to build community garden plots for immigrant families.   Mei-Ling Hui, Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens Program Director at SFRPD, led the effort and shared that La Grande, was at one time, a completely unusable piece of land, but today, a beautiful, vibrant garden full of life and potential.   

While getting 30+ project managers on the same page can be a challenge in itself, it was a very well-organized project in large part to an amazing group of volunteer coordinators at both PMI and SFRPD that share a deep passion for sustainability work.    We were divided up into two groups.   The first group was tasked with clearing out and removing the old planter boxes from the site in order to accommodate the new ones that would be constructed by the second group.   In addition, many of us also assisted with removing weeds, trimming away old growth, and filling up empty crevices in the garden with extra mulch to assist in holding moisture in the soil.   Mei-Ling provided a very thorough explanation of how she wanted the planter boxes constructed.   Given that some of us lacked the carpentry skills to be able to contribute to the project like myself, I was very encouraged when other project managers came alongside me to provide tips and training, and I became more confident in being able to contribute more to the work.   Another example of team unity occurred when one of the volunteers was transporting a giant load of mulch in a wheelbarrow with a flat tire and it suddenly tipped over and emptied out all of the mulch.  Several other volunteers came to her aid quickly, refilling the wheel barrel again, transporting the mulch, along with the wheelbarrow to the destination.

It was truly amazing to see so many project managers uniting and working together to support this community activity and make a difference.    At the end of the day, not only did we construct two new plots with two new planter boxes, which will provide a sustainable food resource for two needy families, we realized the impact we can make by being present and banding together to support this effort, both physically and financially.  


Note from PMI-SFBAC VP of Sustainability: We returned to in person environmental and community stewardship in July. It has been wonderful to get our Green Team back together outdoors and in person this summer. The La Grande Community Gardens project was the first project to be a recipient of PMI-SFBAC Sustainability Program fundraising ($2735).  Join us for our next event on September 29th, Sustainable People Management Practices (A work/life balance check-in) with guest Wanda Lee-Stevens.


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