A local nonprofit, Each Green Corner, educates the community about hunger through gardening and volunteering.
Founded in 2018, Each Green Corner brings vibrancy and shared purpose to the community by combining education with volunteer opportunities to raise awareness of food insecurity.
Since the organization was founded, Each Green Corner has worked almost exclusively on a voluntary basis. The organization has just a handful of full-time employees and uses trained, guided volunteers to run their locations in local backyards, school gardens and community centers. Through its local offices, the organization intends to donate all proceeds to local food banks to feed hungry communities in San Mateo County.
These rooms used to be desolate and often overlooked by passers-by. With the addition of planter boxes, signage, and outdoor learning spaces, the organization hopes to increase community involvement. In addition, they provide a pleasant contrast to school environments to make learning more interactive for students.
“We created outdoor study spaces and planters in unused areas so the kids can come down and see what’s growing, get a taste and have a lesson with the teacher,” said Sonya Rowen, the volunteer at Each Green Corner.
Rather than planting plants on a whim, the volunteers and staff at Each Green Corner choose their plants methodically. Not only to maximize yield, but also to provide new, more diverse food sources to appeal to diverse cultures in the region, particularly those who cannot easily access their favorite ingredients.
“One of them we’ve introduced is calabash squash, which has been a huge hit and we’ve grown huge ones at Arundel Elementary School. So try to add a little variety to the food bank and fill that need gap,” Rowen said.
While one of its primary goals is to solve food insecurity in the Bay Area, the organization also seeks to educate people about adapting to the changing climate and how they can help the environment in their backyards.
“One of our areas of responsibility is the promotion of sustainable agriculture. We know that food production is hugely important, but so is environmental sustainability. So we want to help educate the community and provide them with opportunities for hands-on learning and sustainable farming techniques to promote environmental sustainability through our gardens,” said Sandie Nierenberg, Founder and CEO of Each Green Corner.
kidney mountain and her team carefully plan how to implement low-water-level drip irrigation and native plants on their sites without affecting the buildings around them. Additionally, by using smaller herbs, plants, and trees differently, she hopes to create an environment where all organisms work together to grow sustainably.
Each Green Corner volunteer is given many opportunities to help maintain the gardens and outdoor learning spaces. Through their experiences, and the encouragement through programs and articles on her website, Nierenberg hopes volunteers will be inspired by their experiences to take what they learn locally and spread it in their communities.
Through their 11 active gardens in schools and contributions from community members, Each Green Corner has donated over £6,000 of fresh produce to food banks like Second Harvest Food Bank and Samaritan House to feed communities across San Mateo County.
“We’re trying to get more fresh produce to the food banks because they tend to get a lot of canned goods and other non-perishable foods,” Rowen said.
However, despite their best efforts, Each Green Corner lacks the staff to independently manage all of their locations. To fill the gap, they have teamed up with volunteers from other organizations to help maintain their websites. These partnerships allow Each Green Corner to further spread its message to the larger Bay Area community and to gather more supporters and volunteers. Continued outreach and partnerships have proven critical to maintaining campus sites, as long-serving volunteers no longer have time to devote to sites with resurgence of personal work.
Since the peak of the pandemic, Each Green Corner has partnered with other volunteer organizations such as National Charity League, Youth Men Service Leaguee, Girl Scouts of America, Boy Scout BSAand 4-H. These organizations either work together in the same location or run an exclusive volunteer day in a different location.
Allowing other organizations to step in and help furthers Each Green Corner’s message to the community. Children as young as five can make a difference and realize the importance of being sustainable and giving back to those in need.
Freshman Mateo Golomb and his mother Julia are both members of the Youth Men’s Service League and have been volunteers with Each Green Corner for the past two years. Not only have they benefited from learning valuable skills and gaining experience as a volunteer, but they have also started to think more consciously about their past and future choices.
They give the resources and the opportunities, we are the manpower to help them get it done.”
– Mateo Golomb
“I remember as a kid; I saw some other kids uprooting plants, picking apples and happily tossing them around or kicking them around during recess. Now I’ve seen the effort that goes into planting and harvesting this stuff. It makes you more aware of your actions,” Mateo Golomb said.
By promoting urban farming, Each Green Corner hopes more people will start thinking about growing their food, reduce their dependency on supermarkets and become more conscious of the future of food sources, agribusiness and world hunger.
“It makes you think about how we’ve taken our food sources for granted. We don’t get food from Tafel because we go to the store. This volunteering makes me think about the importance of growing food for yourself and the value it has for the future,” said Julia Golomb.
Each Green Corner remains grateful for the supporters and volunteers they have collected. In addition, they have started to broaden their horizons and hire full-time employees to manage more locations. More employees allow the organization to operate in more locations, increasing revenue and impact. Each Green Corner hopes to improve their volunteer training processes and deepen their partnerships with other local nonprofits to increase efficiencies exponentially. Until then, the organization continues to produce what it can and encourages people to register and contribute their specific skills to continue working together to feed those in need and create better habits for the community.
“I’m very committed to helping young people eat healthily and I really believe that you expose children from a young age and let them try new vegetables and see them grow. I think they’re more likely to eat it as an adult, and I think the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the healthier you are,” Rowen said. “When I bring the food to the Tafel, it’s very satisfying to be able to deliver it there and know that it’s being distributed to the community.”