In two Richmond district backyards, groups of young men and women are cultivating vegetables, flowers, and positivity.
Launched by founder Claire Stone three years ago, Euclid Garden is a therapeutic gardening project that began at the Euclid, a girls' group home in the Inner Richmond, and later expanded to include a garden at Project 33rd, a boys' group home in the Outer Richmond.
Both homes are residences for 13- to 17-year-olds who have recently been incarcerated. The gardens are spaces where "young men and women have worked to transform neglected urban backyards into vegetable garden oases entirely harvested by themselves," said representative Kelly Knauf.
The goal of the gardens, Knauf said, is to "give the youth practical skills, provide therapy and give them something to look forward to — the growth of just a simple plant."
Stone, who founded the organization while working at Euclid house, said it began when "a few of the girls and I cleared out the backyard on a weekend and planted pumpkins, squash, flowers and strawberries. A year went by and we had hundreds of little seedlings on the porch."
After working at the house, she was named a City Hall Fellow for San Francisco Recreation & Parks but continued to return to Euclid House to work with its residents. Since its launch, Euclid Garden has been recognized by the Neighborhood Empowerment Network as "Best Community Green Project 2016."
Aided with some traction from an Instagram account, Stone said an initial fundraiser provided the group with money for soil, seeds and other supplies. Now, $17,000 in donations later and following an expansion to the boys' home last spring, they have their sights set on a third garden in East Palo Alto.
That garden is being developed in conjunction with the Youth Club at St. Francis of Assisi Church this spring. To pay for its expanded projects, Euclid Garden is hosting an ongoing CrowdRise fundraiser and staging its second-annual benefit at El Rio on March 18.
Half of the proceeds from the El Rio fundraiser will go to partner group Comm(UNITY), "a space for social service providers in the San Francisco Bay Area to practice and participate in self-care, healing, wellness, connect with each other, build relationships, create together and have fun."
Euclid Garden is also accepting donations of art supplies, seeds, soil, lumber, volunteer time, and other sundries to further its goals. To become a volunteer or advisor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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