07-30-20 | Department

It's Fun to Learn at the YMCA

Mission YMCA Edible Garden
by April Philips Design Works

The YMCA Edible Garden in San Francisco, Calif. was completed in 2013 by a collaboration of volunteers. April Philips Design Works donated their design services for the garden with a focus on outdoor learning. Other elements included planting beds and a vertical garden.
With support from local volunteers and the Mission Y staff, APDW and Zynga coordinated a 100-person workday to complete the transformation of a once unused hillside into a sustainable edible garden for the community.

The Mission YMCA Edible Garden, located in San Francisco's Excelsior neighborhood, is the product of six months of collaborative efforts between Zynga, a game developer and corporate sponsor, the Mission YMCA staff, community members and April Philips Design Works (APDW) to transform an unused, overgrown, inaccessible hillside into a productive and sustainable edible garden.


To tame the difficultly sloped area, APDW donated their design expertise and created promotional print material for the project. These posters and presentations were used to raise funds for the installation of the garden. The design provided areas for children to play and learn, a chicken coop, an orchard, planting beds for teens to plant and grow vegetables for cooking classes, vertical gardening to maximize space and spaces for the elderly to relax and enjoy the garden. Outdoor learning was an essential part in the design. Creating a series of outdoor classrooms in a reclaimed pallet amphitheater and a log seating circle allows children to engage with the outdoors.

APDW was also tasked with organizing a 100-person workday with Zynga where local volunteers donated their time to install all plants, the chicken coop and garden sheds, all on a Saturday. APDW worked with design-build firm, JKT Associates, who pulled the grading permit and built the terraced walls before the workday. The garden was later awarded a Merit Award in General Design from the Northern California Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.


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