News – January 2019


What’s New at ELSEE?

Yesterday, I received a call from a parent who was inquiring about our nature camp this summer. Are we still going to have it? And I said, yes, we are still going to be here teaching children about native plants and growing healthy food in the city, WHILE we protect nature.

She was worried about the sign out front posting a photo of a pending development. I explained to her that this is a process that can take two years. We aren’t going anywhere.

All the sign says is that the city has received a development proposal. It doesn’t say it has been approved. That’s where we need your voice to speak out for green spaces and protection of local ecosystems in the city.
Artist’s rendering of ELSEE at Middlebrook Center
– by Alrie Middlebrook

In the meantime, if you want to book a class field trip or plan an event, order native plants, install a native garden or build a regenerative farm at your home or workplace, email us at CNGF or Middlebrook Gardens.

With your support, we aren’t going anywhere. We’re seeding wildflowers for an incredible spring.

Here are some things we’re doing to make sure there are places like The Middlebrook Center still left in the landscape of our cities:
There will be public hearings on the fate of our home at 76 Race St. Please watch for announcements. We hope you’ll come out to support a better vision and version for San Jose that includes the protection of our local ecosystems as a teaching center, especially for youth.
I have been asked by the Diocese of San Jose to serve on the “Care for Creation” Environmental and Ecological committee under the leadership of Paul Miner, Diocese Director of Social Justice, and Marita Grudzman, a longtime environmental leader in the Diocese. CNGF is preparing a presentation for the Bishop and the Superintendent of Schools. We envision an ecoliteracy and sustainable urban farm learning center for St. Leo’s School and Parish, utilizing our teaching gardens at 76 Race St.
We are beginning to introduce our ELSEE teaching model to the Diocese schools. Together we are focused on Earth Justice, food security, social justice, ecoliteracy and solving our climate change crisis which will displace hundreds of millions of people by 2030 (see IPCC report, Oct. 2018). The solution is related to how we use land and grow food in urban environments. It comes down to how quickly we can prepare and teach our youth the skills required to use urban lands differently. Envisioning ecovillages, ecoblocks and regenerative agriculture farms across cities will allow us to complete our life cycle needs without disrupting Earth’s ecosystems’ services, all the while reducing each individual’s carbon footprint to almost zero. CNGF, with our ELSEE school program and our Build 25 X 25 Initiative, is teaching the skills required to make this transition. Together, we can find the solution to climate change in Santa Clara County.

Our ELSEE model uses hands-on projects outdoors to teach the Core Curriculum, the science standards and the California Environmental Education Initiative. Kids get higher science test scores while learning skills that can reverse climate change.

We created our Build 25 X 25 Initiative. We launched this initiative in 2018 as a result of the work we’ve been doing on the Agrihood Development with Core Companies since 2014.
The Agrihood 2019
Please mark your calendar and join me on Tuesday night, Jan. 29 at 7 pm at the Santa Clara City Council meeting for the final approval vote for the Agrihood. Come out and support this low-income, senior and affordable ecovillage development with a working regenerative farm, where youth from our community will be trained to design, build and manage 24 more of these training and research developments and create a network in Santa Clara County (Build 25 X 25).
Together, we can show the world how we can be food-secure and food-sovereign in Santa Clara County.
What else is happening at ELSEE teaching lab?

We are hosting Google employees for a volunteer day. They will be building tables for our outdoor preschool classroom and helping plant our pallet gardens that hang on the fences.

We have our regenerative agriculture training farm at Hester School in full production. This past fall, we had over 120 Homestead High School AP Environmental Science students helping develop the Hester Farm. Some students volunteered every week from September to December. We also have student interns from SJSU, SCU, UCSC and West Valley College working at Hester or helping out with our farm stand at Rose Garden Farmers Market every Saturday from 10-2 pm. Please stop by for a visit any Saturday and choose from up to 25 food plants we are growing at Hester Regen Ag teaching farm!

Our Weekly Farm Stand with 25 Different Food Plants Harvested
Every Saturday Morning
Hester Farm – A Training Farm to Teach ROA Methods
Homestead High School Volunteers
Homestead High School Student, Darian Lee

Currently, we have many SJSU interns helping with 18 tracks of accomplishment to help support CNGF’s mission and purpose. If you know of a college student looking for an internship, we still have openings on the following teams:

  • Build 25 X 25 Initiative team 
  • Grant writing
  • CNGF community development
  • Teaching team for San Jose Diocese schools
  • Coordinator for student interns
  • Garden management team for Hester Garden and Race St.
  • Farmers Market team
  • Social media team
  • Community presentations team

Contact us for more information.

Tanya van Renesse
CNGF Intern from UCSC Environmental Studies Department

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*76 Race Street, San Jose, Ca 95126*

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