The Garden Project
We don't just grow plants, we grow people too.
"I am motivated to reach my potential and to help others reach theirs. Thank you Garden Project family for everything we have learned, and have been involved with."
The Garden Project is a community driven organization that educates youth from all walks of life. I started working at The Garden Project in the summer of 2012. Then I was a recent high school graduate that had no idea what life would throw at him. Luckily I found The Garden Project! This work became not just a job for me but a second home. From the people to the beautiful purpose of our job – providing fresh produce to the families in need as well as educate our future workforce with the training they need to be successful. I knew being involved with The Garden Project would make life much easier. The Garden Project is a non-profit organization that promotes better health, positivity, and most of all, a chance for young students to achieve a better life.
The Garden Project has a saying, "We don't just grow plants, we grow people too". I am living proof of that statement. I started as a young student and now an employee at Bay Area Rapid Transit. The only way I was able to work at BART was through rigorous training at The Garden Project. The Garden Project trains students to reach their highest potential, to never give up, and most importantly, if you work hard you will get what you aspire for. That is what I held onto and now I see the result.
What I love the most about this organization is how diverse and useful the classes are. Classes from money management and career exposures, to work ethic skills. Being involved with The Garden Project gives one a better understanding and care for what they do. It helps ensure young high school students have a job and a better work ethic. Students who are involved are able to provide financial help to their families and while the program donates all its vegetables to the many schools, churches and other organizations around San Francisco.
I wish more programs existed like The Garden Project. Our director Cathrine Sneed has dedicated over three decades to providing excellent work ethic and exposure to students. As I quoted before; we don't grow just plants, but people too. I genuinely treasure the hard work we put in at The Garden Project as well as the efforts we put into ourselves, to grow as a better individuals.
My experience thus far can be described in one word: Motivation. Why? That is what I use to move forward everyday. I am motivated to reach my potential and to help others reach theirs. Thank you Garden Project family for everything we have learned, and have been involved with.
- Umique, 2015 Earth Steward, BART Employee
Jaylyn, University of Nevada Student
Shaquille, Talladega College Student
Jose, SF State Student, SFPD Cadet
Elijah, Talladega College Student
Nymaya, Grad. Student Univ. of Utah
Khai, SF State Student, SFPD Cadet
Umique, BART Employee
"Education is heavily promoted by The Garden Project. They support middle and high school students, community college and university students...The Garden Project aims to provide support to individuals to succeed in any work field"
I came to The Garden Project with only one interest in mind: to work with the environment. Yet, I knew that The Garden Project mission is to break the cycle that leaves individuals at-risk for crime and/or poverty. However, I never imagined that I could play a role in this mission.
I already knew that most people have an innate love for nature. Yet, it’s absolutely clever how the founder, Cathrine Sneed, used that love for nature that people already possess, to help turn lives around. I worked alongside many people who felt a great sense of hope and accomplishment simply from harvesting vegetables and removing invasive plants, even though these individuals may have a very different background or home situation than mine. Furthermore, it’s also brilliant how The Garden Project teaches professionalism through earth stewardship. Professional skills such as time management and effective communication are emphasized in school. But for someone with less schooling, they may fall through the cracks and not learn these job skills that are essential at any workplace. The Garden Project plays a critical role in filling that void.
Education is heavily promoted by The Garden Project. They support middle and high school students, community college and university students, or students like myself currently hoping to pursue a master’s degree. Thus, The Garden Project aims to provide support to individuals to succeed in any work field, via The Garden Project's work in earth stewardship. I am forever grateful for my time at The Garden Project, and to Cathrine especially, and hope to continue to be a part of this organization no matter where my future goals take me.
- Nymaya, 2016 Earth Steward, Graduate Student at The University of Utah
"The Garden Project creates opportunities. For myself, it allowed a struggling college student to work while still making school a priority."
I was an Earth Steward and youth mentor for The Garden Project. I was a college student at San Francisco State University and at the time seeking employment. A friend recommended that I should look into The Garden Project because it mainly comprised of community work and youth outreach. These areas are something I hold great interest in. I have learned a great deal working with The Garden Project as they are heavily involved in the community. From employing at risk youths to providing organically grown vegetables to senior citizens, The Garden Project impacts lives for the better and I can proudly say I was a part of this program. Working with the youth and providing a crucial service to the elderly made me realize how this organization inspires hope and creates positive changes.
The Garden Project also has a close partnership with law enforcement. Such agencies include the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. As such I was fortunate enough to work along side SFPD officers from the Youth Community Engagement Unit. These Officers emitted a professional and caring attitude that inspired me to pursue a career in law enforcement.
The Garden Project creates opportunities. For myself, it allowed a struggling college student to work while still making school a priority. The Garden Project identifies one's interest and provides the resources to make it a reality. Without The Garden Project I would not have gained such valuable community work experience and networking opportunities. I personally feel that this program was a catalyst for my success. I will be graduating this January from college and hopefully starting a career in law enforcement. The Garden Project has been a great support system.
- Khai, 2015 Earth Steward, Police Cadet/SF State Student
"The energy provided by everyone involved in the program drove me to keep maturing as well. I’m not exactly sure what kind of person I would be if I hadn't had these experiences with The Garden Project."
I found The Garden Project through friends in the summer of 2013. Like my friends I was attending City College of San Francisco. They told me how this program was employing them while still giving them the best chance to succeed in school. Among the great resources that The Garden Project provides for the community is the opportunities provided for youth to grow and make better of their circumstances. This inspired me the most while working there and taught me lessons that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.
Leading the younger high school kids with the other college Earth Stewards, I got to see them grow throughout the year. They were exposed to nature in a way that most are not outside of the program. They also learned to become more professional. The energy provided by everyone involved in the program drove me to keep maturing as well. I’m not exactly sure what kind of person I would be if I hadn't had these experiences with The Garden Project. I’m currently attending San Francisco State University and will be graduating in the fall semester of next year, which to reiterate, was only be possible through the help of The Garden Project.
The Garden Project also collaborates with many different groups in the community, one of them being San Francisco’s Police Department. While working with the Garden Project I came to see a place for me to contribute through my experiences to the Department and am currently a SFPD Police Cadet. I will continue to translate the lessons I’ve learned at The Garden Project while gaining new ones and moving forward into my career at SFPD in the community that raised me, The Bayview.
I cannot thank The Garden Project and their director Cathrine enough. I will continue to dedicate so much of my future to the values instilled in me through The Garden Project.
- Jose, 2015 Earth Steward, SF State Student, SFPD Cadet
"The Garden Project isn’t just a summer program for youth to come and earn some money. It’s a program that is invested in the youth."
I am a senior at Talladega College and part of The Garden Project’s Earth Stewards program. My brother, who has been with The Garden Project for 3 years, first introduced me to The Garden Project. My brother described the program as “you never know what is going to happen”. And for me I had to know for myself and my first day I was immediately thrown into the culture that is The Garden Project. My first day instead of being in the field with the others, the director wanted me to help students with writing. This was my first experience working with youth and I loved being able to do what I love: writing. The students were tired from working in the morning so it gave them a chance to write about anything that was happening in their life. None of the students knew who I was, but were willing to open up about their work, school issues and career goals. After they were done, they told me how good it was just to write about how the day was going. This was just the first day of many incredible days I’ve had here.
What I love about The Garden Project is the effort the Director Cathrine and her staff put into helping the youth. The passion that Cathrine has for the youth is very rare today. Most people her age believe that the youth are the problem, but Cathrine doesn’t. She gives young people from all communities a chance to work and learn from her and others about plants, education and being successful despite from where you come from. The Garden Project isn’t just a summer program for youth to come and earn some money. It’s a program that is invested in the youth. The Garden Project does a ton of great things from growing vegetables and distributing them out to families who can’t afford them in San Francisco to cleaning out brushes to prevent wildfires at every water reservoir in San Francisco.
We also partnered with the SF Sherriff and Police Departments in San Francisco. This has helped bridged the divide between police and our neighborhoods. By having them with us every day they get to talk to us and learn more about us. The Garden Project also brings in many city supervisors and officials to share their stories of where they came and how they made it. We visit Skyline College and learn from their programs that help high school student earn college credit. The Garden Project creates opportunities for everyone. It gives anyone that wants to work a chance to.
Lastly it gave me a chance to work with youth and learn from them. I am forever grateful to have worked with Cathrine and her wonderful staff. I got to meet so many great people and visit places in San Francisco I’ve never been to myself. I hope to continue to work with the Garden Project as I graduate from college and pursue my career in Mass Media and to give back to them the passion and effort they gave to me.
- Shaquille, 2014 Earth Steward, Talladega College Student
"The Garden Project gives everyone an equal shot to succeed. Everyone starts from the bottom and you work your way up by working hard."
I’ve been growing up with The Garden Project for about 4 years now. I’ve worked 2 years in the summer as a student/Earth Steward and 2 years as a Youth Mentor. And I am a sophomore currently attending Talladega College. My major is Secondary Mathematics Education. I originally heard of The Garden Project through my aunt who is a police officer. Even though when I started I did not like gardening and thought of it as a summer job that provided good money, I’ve learned over the years that it is so much more than that.
The Garden Project connects different youth from around San Francisco and gives them a chance to connect with SFPD. It breaks down a barrier that most kids have built up towards law enforcement. Through a number of different activities such as: a foot racing down the parking lot, or around a track, tug of war competition, or just talking about basketball the police the kids have developed actual friendships that go beyond The Garden Project. For the kids to actually say 'hi' and show respect and joy to see an officer outside of The Garden Project is amazing and all you can ask for at the end of the day.
The Garden Project is also a place of opportunity. The Garden Project gives everyone an equal shot to succeed. Everyone starts from the bottom and you work your way up by working hard. You can start as a middle schooler just looking for some extra money during the summer, but end up being a college student working during the school year knowing that you have the support system of The Garden Project behind you. It is a wonderful organization to be a part of. The Garden Project has done so much for me for so long that I am forever grateful to Cathrine and everyone here. I'm proud to be in The Garden Project Family.
- Elijah, 2014 Earth Steward, Talladega College Student
Read students' full stories below:
The Garden Project is a place to expand your horizons while also helping out your community. I started working at The Garden Project after I graduated high school in 2015. It gave me the chance to work with people from very different backgrounds and try things I’ve never done before. My first time on a farm started that summer and I learned many valuable skills, like how to work with others and gardening knowledge. Working with others is a skill I can take with me to my other career endeavors once I’ve graduated college.
I currently go to school at the University of Nevada Reno and I’ve been working with The Garden Project for the past 2 years. I’ve seen the kids and community benefit greatly from this program. Giving back to those in need while also getting the chance to help themselves is an opportunity not many kids are able to take advantage of. The kids and college students that take part in this program develop skills and gain experiences that they will carry with them forever.
Not only are the kids able to interact with a new environment but they are also able to spend time with local law enforcement officers. With the negative attitude surrounding officers, this program helps bridge the gap between officers and their community. My first summer there I was able to develop relationships with each of the officers chaperoning the program. By getting to know them I gained knowledge I never would have gotten had I stayed at home the entire summer. Now I can say that I am wiser and I have work experience, both important traits to have for a college student hoping to get a job post-graduation. If I could recommend any program to aid local students and the community, it would be The Garden Project.
- Jaylyn, University of Nevada Student
"Working with others is a skill I can take with me to my other career endeavors once I’ve graduated college."
"No one becomes successful without help from others. The Garden project is a place to provide opportunities, and lend a hand to help everyone become successful."
I am sophomore at University of California, Santa Cruz, majoring in Sociology. I’ve been working with The Garden Project for three years. I worked in the summer, one year as an Earth Steward and two years as a Youth Mentor. I found this program through my sister who has worked with this program for four years already. At first, I came to The Garden Project just to earn some money. As time went by, I thought of this job not only as a way to earn money, but also as a way to learn something I would not be able to learn from school, and that’s why I still work with The Garden Project.
The Ggarden Pproject not only provides young people with a great opportunity, to work but also helps senior citizens in the community by providing them with fresh and organic vegetables. The Ggarden Pproject educates in a variety of ways using different activities to train young people to become professional. The Ggarden Pproject also has close relationships with the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Sheriff's Department. Through the daily interaction between young people and police officers, this leads to young people grow in their legal knowledges.
Working at Tthe Garden Pproject has helped me learn a lot about myself and allowed me to understand that teamwork and communication are important factors to achieve success. The Garden Project provides me with an opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people and practice my interpersonal skills. Through this, I have gained a sense of responsibility and learned that regardless of what I do, I have to face challenges head on. Interacting with people from diverse backgrounds inspired me to be more active in my community and to understand how to build relationships between different people.
No one becomes successful without the help of others. The Ggarden Pproject is a place that provides opportunities and lends a hand to help everyone become successful. The skills I learned at Tthe Ggarden Pproject not only allowed me to succeed academically, but have also made me successful enough to get an internship at school. I am very grateful to Catherine for giving me this opportunity and for allowing me join this family.
- Yuki, 2015 Earth Steward, UC Santa Cruz Student