Out of the Mayor’s office of the City of San Francisco, the Neighborhood Empowerment Network (NEN) hosts an award ceremony each year to honor organizations doing noteworthy work here in our fair City. This year’s event was quite the extravaganza of community and cooperation, with a host of deserving awardees receiving acknowledgment from colleagues and peers for their hard work and dedication. It was an incredibly eclectic group of people including Mayor Gavin Newsom, multiple City Supervisors, and a host of other dignitaries in Government and the green movement. Among the lucky award-winners for 2010 was our very own Treasure Island Job Corps Center, in partnership with City Slicker Farms, for all the hard work and collaboration that has gone towards making our Urban Farm a reality!
Our award- Best Green Community Project: “NEN recognizes that many of the most important efforts to protect and preserve the natural environment in San Francisco are the result of strong communities working together to green their buildings and neighborhoods. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and San Francisco Department of Environment seek to honor one the many “green” grassroots projects undertaken by the City’s neighborhood organizations, community groups, homeowner associations and the like. The selected project must represent the collective effort of community members, and have demonstrated a marked impact on one or more of the following environmental issues: water conservation, stormwater reduction, waste reduction, renewable energy & energy efficiency.”
The farm has truly been a team effort! On stage together to accept the award were DOL Regional Director Brian Daher, City Slicker Farms founder Willow Rosenthal, Urban Farm Coordinator Corey Block, Carpentry Instructors Jack Reisner and Carlos White, along with three carpentry students, Lindsey Vaca, Corey Session and Rayvonn Turner. Building positive team energy and camaraderie forged through hard work, Ms. Block coordinated the efforts of students and staff from virtually ALL of our construction trades. After months of ceaseless toiling together, they shaped a vision which had been defined, designed and funded as a true collaboration between many. The Carpentry team looked rightfully proud standing on stage, reaping their reward after months of working to execute the design assembled by a host of consultants and experts – including City Slickers Farms founder, Ms. Willow Rosenthal.
In his introductory statements DOL Regional Director, Brian Daher, whose enthusiasm and support for the farm ultimately made it a reality, acknowledged the combined efforts of the many who contributed to the vision and whose dedication crafted and shaped OUR FARM:
“The Treasure Island Urban Farm would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of the trade instructors and staff that have been working diligently to build the farm’s components. Electrical, Cement Masonry, Carpentry and everyone else who contributed to the construction must be thanked and commended first off. Center Director David Miller has been an exemplary leader in overseeing this project. I can assure you, no other center director in Job Corps nationwide has construction and maintenance of a 1-acre farm in their job description. This award and its recognitions belong in Dave’s office, thank you Dave!
Corey Block, Willow Rosenthal, John Bjerke and Wilhelmina Parker have all had significant roles in the creation, design and promotion of the farm. I am pleased to announce here that Corey’s position of Urban Farm Coordinator will be permanently funded by Job Corps. Without the leadership and support of our Job Corps National Director Edna Primrose who oversaw the administration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, there would be no farm. We thank Assistant Secretary for the Employment & Training Administration, Jane Oates, for her direction and of course, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis who leads our agency toward sustainability and a clean energy economy.
Finally, we want to thank Michelle Obama for her inspiration in beginning her reign as First Lady by planting a Victory Garden at the White House and launching her “Let’s Move” healthy eating initiative. In her honor, we are naming the farm “The Michelle Obama Treasure Island Job Corps Green Acre.” As you know, our center on Treasure Island has a renowned advanced culinary program in cooking and pastries. Most of our students have overcome tremendous barriers in their lives to get to Job Corps and have never seen a farm. This project will give our students the opportunity to see where herbs and spices come from. They’ll be collecting eggs from the chickens and harvesting vegetables. They will have a holistic approach to developing farm-fresh healthy meals.
Job Corps was given the opportunity to plant seeds in the ground. And now we are watching those seeds grow and blossom in our students’ lives. At one point, the Urban Farm was just a dream. I say to everyone, ‘Don’t Follow Your Dreams…. Chase Them!!!!’”