Outdoor Education

The Rosa Parks Garden Program

Rosa Parks has two beautiful gardens: the lower garden (with an orchard, flowers, herbs, and vegetables) and the upper garden (with a chicken coop, educational area, and seasonal crops). These gardens are a unique part of the Rosa Parks community, and students feel a great sense of pride and ownership over them. 

While the lower garden is accessible to the school community during recess and lunch, the upper garden is reserved for the Garden Program. During the Garden Program, students establish a connection with the land through activities tailored for each grade. They learn about environmental science through hands-on lessons and develop social-emotional skills by regulating their breathing and practicing mindfulness. A core element of the program is practicing reciprocity with the land by planting and caring for vegetables for several weeks. During the final garden class, students celebrate one another’s accomplishments by harvesting the vegetables they planted. In this way, students learn “honorable harvesting” – the Indigenous practice of exchange that involves minimizing harm and offering gratitude to the plants. 

Each class at Rosa Parks participates in the Garden Program. Grade levels rotate throughout the year, so students can see the garden in different seasons and stages of growth. Some activities students may engage in include: 

  • Planting in the garden and comparing plant life cycles 
  • Discovering how the five senses influence observational skills
  • Recognizing biodiversity in the garden and in our neighborhood 
  • Investigating decomposition and decomposers
  • Watering our garden and learning about rainwater collection and water conservation 
  • Holding and feeding chickens and discussing animal needs and adaptations
  • Harvesting and preparing our own salad with garden ingredients

The gardens are a place where plants and students grow. Students express awe and delight while they care for chickens, find worms, try new fruits and vegetables, and get their hands dirty. The Rosa Parks community is proud of the school’s Garden Program, which received coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle and NBC Bay Area. The parent-run Green Team partners with the nonprofit CommunityGrows to support our garden educators and ensure Rosa Parks students can enjoy the Garden Program now and into the future.

Meet Our Chickens

Name : Oreo

Breed : Barred White


Name : Pikachu II Star Eternatus

Breed : Silver Laced Wyandotte


Name : Pyopyo

Breed : Rhode Island Red


Name : Sunny

Breed : Buff Orpington


Name : Totoro

Breed : Barred White

How It All Started

The idea of having a garden at Rosa Parks began in 2008 when we found that our school was eligible for $240,000 in bond money to develop a school garden. Over the next two years, we began weekly meetings to include students, staff, parents and the surrounding community to formulate a plan. We visited other gardens in the Bay Area, read about other gardens in the US and then, with a landscape architect, we began developing the plans for the lower garden. 

Lower garden getting started

In the summer of 2010, the building of the lower garden began and in the fall, garden classes began! Our garden coordinator, Nora Brereton, immediately advocated for the upper garden to be developed. In the spring of 2011, through grants, extra bond money and a lot of hard work from our families, staff and community, we began the removal of concrete in the upper garden. The Green Team also helped to plan the Upper Courtyard during this time. 

The lower garden first planting

These projects required enormous dedication from so many people. Special thanks to Mr. Jacobsen, principal at the time, who was always available and helpful; Nanayo who always helped us navigate the needs of the district and Mr. T who was helpful, in a million ways! And of course Barb Fujimoto who led the original Green Team and who still volunteers to this day!

About CommunityGrows

CommunityGrows cultivates healthy youth through growing gardens in low-income, diverse communities. Through our integrated programs, which combine garden education, nutritious cooking and eating, and work-based learning, youth acquire the necessary skills to live a healthy life for themselves, their families and the environment. CommunityGrows currently works with four SFUSD schools throughout the city, several after-school programs in the Western Addition and the Bayview, and also runs the BEETS program, a paid food justice internship for San Francisco youth.

This page was last updated on February 13, 2024