OBUGS: by Elise

Hello friends, family, and people I don’t know. So, while Michelle, Peter, and Megan go to People’s Grocery; Mindy, Molly, Allison, and I go help out at an organization called OBUGS (Oakland Based Urban Gardens). This organization has 5 gardens in West Oakland, some are “outdoor classrooms” for kids’ camps (which we have been helping out at) and some are community gardens. This last week we helped out at a garden that is at Lafayette Elementary School. This camp serves both neighborhood kids and kids that are at a camp a couple blocks away from the garden. A typical day for us at OBUGS is first going to their office helping them get ready for the day. Then we head to the school where we play games with the kids, teach them how to do stuff in the garden (weeding, watering, and harvesting the various herbs and vegetables), and cook a snack with them from the food they picked. This week we made grilled cheese sandwiches with herbs and grated zucchini in a solar oven, and carrot-cilantro soup that we mixed in a bike blender (The kids love it!). I was impressed with the kids’ (5-12 years of age) willingness to at least try everything and most of them loved the food. At the end of the day we help the Garden Instructor clean up at both the garden and the office. Overall, it has been really awesome to see how excited the little kids are to garden. They are getting to learn things they might not have the chance to do otherwise. They are also very cute and funny, but stories about the camps will have to come later.

On Fridays there are no programs with the kids, so we help out doing garden work. This Friday we did some nasty (but healthy for the compost) work at the “outdoor classroom” gardens (Molly and I cut open and threw moldy mushroom coffee ground bags into the compost, and Allison and Mindy turned compost) and then we went to the community garden and watered. They even let us harvest any vegetables and herbs that we wanted (free produce, yay!). When we were in the garden, we heard someone yelling wondering if anyone was there, and it ended up being a grandma and her two grandchildren (OBUGS leaves open the gate while they’re there for anyone in the neighborhood to come and harvest whatever they would like.). The boy who was ~9 asked us excitedly if we had any carrots, so our boss enthusiastically went and showed him and his sister how to harvest carrots. The grandmother went around the garden harvesting plants. They were all so grateful for their time in the garden and we invited the boy to come to the classes. We were all so glad that family came to the garden. It showed us how generous OBUGS is and how great it is that they are providing healthy food for the neighborhood (the garden is in between two houses, so it makes a v-shape). Our boss said afterwards when the family left that this is why they started the gardens—for those encounters that provide and encourage healthy eating for the families of West Oakland and show kids how different foods grow and even try some of them when they might not have that opportunity otherwise. I am so grateful for the people and experiences that God is placing in our paths here in Oakland.


Allison at one of the gardens



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