Community Service Day


“Oh, can’t we stay longer? These little strawberries still need to be planted!”

Synergy celebrated our Community Service Day on October 18th by getting our hands dirty, working together to weed, transplant strawberries, and harvest greens  for The Garden Project, located at  the San Francisco County Jail in San Bruno.

Synergy students, parents and staff, proud in our Synergy t-shirts, met at the jail on a glorious Bay Area  morning. We were ferried past the jail guardhouse to the well-tended fields where we would spend the next few hours working on the land.

Our work was supervised by The Garden Project co-founder Cathrine Sneed. Cathrine, who is a Synergy alum parent and grandparent, started the project to provide young people support, skills, and work experience. In 1982, Cathrine created the County Jail Horticulture Project, a training program for inmates. She started The Garden Project a decade later to help low-income young adults and high school students learn environmentally-based horticulture and landscaping skills. All the produce from the Project is donated to local food pantries like Project Open Hand, which provide food to low-income Bay Area families. The Garden Project is considered a model for community change across the globe.

Throughout the day, Synergy students, parents, and staff transplanted baby strawberry plants, sifted soil, planted, and picked bags and bags of organic kale, broccoli, and chard.  Kids picked  enthusiastically in the hot sun.  Many harvested revelations as quickly as the plants: “I don’t like broccoli, but I like this broccoli!” said one 8-year-old.  A middle school student observed, “This is really hard work! I don’t think I am going to be able to waste my broccoli at dinner any more. It is really disrespectful.”

We gathered to share a delicious salad of chard, apples, and tomatoes, created by Synergy parents from produce picked the day before.  Anthony’s Cookies provided the perfect dessert.

And when it came time for us to take our leave from the farm, the kids weren’t the only ones who were sorry to go.

–by Jenna Schott

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