Our Curriculum

Climate Change as the nexus for learning:

CAN! cultivates environmental education based in the outdoor classroom.  The outdoor classroom provides learners with important psycho-motor experiences associated with gardening activities (like weed removal, soil preparation, planting, irrigation, etc.).

Participating students and staff learn that climate change is the alteration or change of temperature, weather patterns and wind patterns due to anthropogenic (human-caused) increases in greenhouse gasses (like carbon dioxide and methane).

Participants learn that opening up the living soil protects the local watershed by reducing pressure upon the City’s combined sewer system.  Learning about the Carbon Cycle and Carbon Sequestration (the manner that living plants and soil takes up and captures carbon) are ongoing lessons for all participating CAN!-YES middle and high school participants.


Core Learning Concepts Promoted by CAN! Youth Ecological Stewards Program

1) Water, Energy and Soil Conservation; Composting with the Fungus, Bacteria and Invertebrates

2) Water Cycle Awareness, Water Pollution Prevention, Watershed Restoration Ecology

3) Renewable Energy Promotion in the Era of Climate Change; Solar and Wind vs. Fossil Fuels


K-2: Kindergarten to second grade student lessons focus upon natural resources awareness,  especially water and energy conservation. Students explore the gardens searching for decomposers, edible flowers and rotting leaves.  Tactile experiences outdoors and regular exposure to bugs and plants will support dialogue about resource conservation.  Students irrigate plants and learn about the importance of and need for conservation. Bug hunts and “garden tacos” (of greens and flowers) are very popular with students of all ages.

3-4: Third and fourth grade student lesson delve deeper into life cycles (like composting with the Fungus Bacteria and Invertebrates) and energy cycles (how plants use sun energy for power) which lead to dialogue about renewable energy vs. fossil fuel energy.  A focus on direct actions for energy reductions is be prioritized as the youth are be encouraged to find ways to save energy at school and at home.  Garden lessons include cover crop planting and incorporation, turning the compost pile, journaling about scientific observations, measuring, observing and documenting daily, weekly and seasonal changes in the garden.

5-8: Fifth grade students dive right into the water cycle, watershed awareness and eventually watershed pollution prevention.  Garden activities include the building berms and swales, compost production, appropriate irrigation techniques with the hose, watering can, etc. Students learn about evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection, as well as the importance of the appropriate disposal of hazardous waste (like oil, paint and other chemicals).

9th-12th Grades: For high school students, CAN! curriculum delves deeper into carbon cycling, watershed restoration and basic ecological principles.  Students are engaged in hands-on learning in the garden, and all activities are tied to NextGen Science standards, or other various diverse academic arenas.

Washington High School


Washington High School

Thanks to funds from the District 1 Office of SF Supervisor Supervisor Sandra Fewer and Supervisor Eric Mar in 2015-2016 andCAN! has been able to offer George Washington High School (GWHS) students a chance to cultivate (and eat) their own organic vegetables and even honey.

Students participate in habitat restoration garden activities on campus as well as planning culturally engaging activities for fellow students, staff and the larger community to become more physically active, healthy and earth-conscious.  George Washington High School is a huge campus (4 city blocks) and the school boasts over 2,300 students.  CAN! is planting roots at George Washington High, cultivating youth leadership and expanding into the Richmond District with the Richmond District Sidewalk Garden Project.  With the CAN! Green Jobs program, GWHS students have performed outreach for the Richmond District Sidewalk Garden Project while learning valuable skills in outreach, community engagement, communication, planning, design and horticulture.

Support the CAN! garden programs today and help us expand at GWHS.

Community Gardens

Working with neighbors and local residents, CAN! collaborates with community members to design, raise funds and physically build out community gardens.



Richmond District Neighborhood Center Urban Garden:

Since 2013 CAN! has worked alongside the Richmond District Neighborhood Center and the larger community to create the RDNC Urban Garden.  This SFUSD property was once an abandoned hillside full of Acacia trees and weeds.  But after four years of CAN! and RDNC investment (and hundreds of hours of work from students and volunteers) the site now boasts over 500 square feet of growing area for organic vegetables, a 25-fruit-tree orchard and contains over 150 species of pollinator-supporting plants.

Student groups explore the garden during the week and community members regularly get dirty planting vegetables and flowers.  In 2014 the SF Carbon Fund supported the site by providing funds for the creation of a 25-tree Organic Orchard which now produces apples, lemons, loquat and much more.  Visit the site @ 741 30th Avenue at Cabrillo in the Outer Richmond District to experience the garden for yourself.



Playland@43rdAve Community Garden:

Created in partnership with GroundPlay, the SF Planning Department, the Office of District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang, the SFUSD, the SF Parks Alliance and the larger community CAN! created a 26-family community garden in the outer Sunset neighborhood in San Francisco.

This site was once an abandoned parking lot, but now boasts over 100 species of plants full of color and culture, bursting out into the hearts and minds of the community.

The site has nine raised wooden veggie beds, one large octagon herb garden and several straw-bale raised beds.  Pollinator Gardens surround the vegetable garden, including a large riparian stormwater management facility planted in native plants.  This riparian swale captures the stromwater from the entire parking lot, permitting the rainwater to flow into the ground, replenishing the local aquifer underneath the Sunset neighborhood while building habitat and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.  Check out the riparean garden in wintertime when it fills up with stormwater!

Community activities such as garden workdays, community yoga, table-tennis, basket and an incredibly designed and well-utilized skatepark make the site very popular with kids of all ages.

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