The Homeless Garden Project »
Inspiring Personal and Community Change
The first week of June is National Gardening Week in the United States. What seeds did you plant this spring to sow goodness in the world?
The Homeless Garden Project has been hard at work since May 1990 to provide a sanctuary, refuge and meaningful work within the healing environment of organic farming. It all began with the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, a Santa Cruz (California) County nonprofit, and 25 years ago, the first Community Supported Agriculture program began.
The project has now extended to include Women’s Organic Flower Enterprise (WOFE), giving trainees year-round transitional employment, job skills and increased self-esteem and confidence. The goal is to replace the isolation homelessness may bring with a community of support and compassion. The women’s beautiful work with candles, herbal products, jam, baking mixes, decorations, jewelry, handmade clothing and more can be purchased at the WOFE store.
And by partnering with this Community Supported Agriculture initiative, volunteers and donors are helping to make local, seasonal and organic produce accessible to low-income families and individuals.
The Homeless Garden Project also offers valuable services to those in need, from pro-bono conversations with social work interns and job training to locating affordable and safe housing. Volunteers in the farm kitchen serve hot dinners twice a week during the growing season for anyone working that day.
As one volunteer, with more than 200 hours of service, writes, “I do this to learn, grow and be part of something that provides Santa Cruz two human staples: food and community, each mutually reinforcing the other. Every day, I learn something new about agriculture, flowers, business, history of the community or (my favorite) the stories almost as sweet and juicy as our organic strawberries.”
What does the future hold? A youth empowerment program, using food (through sustainable agriculture and health) as a vehicle for bringing about personal growth and transformation.