The Homeless Garden Project provides job training, transitional employment and support services to people who are homeless. HGP's vibrant education and volunteer program for the broad community blends formal, experiential and service-learning. The programs take place in their 3-acre organic farm and related enterprises.
Mission: In the soil of their urban farm and garden, people find the tools they need to build a home in the world.
Vision: They envision a thriving and inclusive community, workforce, and local food system.
-The capacity of every individual for growth and renewal.
-The joy that comes from growing and sharing healthy food.
-The well-being created by vibrant social and natural ecosystems.
Trainees in the program:
-Take advantage of transitional employment in the safety of a structured environment
-Learn basic life skills required for employment
-Learn a variety of other marketable skills
-Share four hot meals a week with staff, other trainees and volunteers
-Give to the community by growing food for other programs that serve homeless and needy populations
-Grow organic fruit, vegetables and flowers for the SC community through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
-Educate students and other groups who use the garden
-Create value-added products from farm grown materials which are sold at the Women's Organic Flower Enterprise Store
Who they serve
The program serves and depends on a community volunteers, interns, customers, and trainees who form strong bonds through the work. This "strengthened" community breaks down the profound sense of isolation experienced by many homeless people. Together, they work towards common goals that impact individuals as well as other local agencies and services.
Why they do it:
Homelessness and joblessness go hand in hand. Lack of job skills, recent work history, social support network and low self esteem all make the transition out of homelessness more difficult. The integrated approach of the Homeless Garden Project's programs addresses all of these needs.
History of the Project:
In May of 1990, the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, a Santa Cruz County non-profit, began a new project by opening the gates of an organic garden on Pelton Avenue. The Homeless Garden Project would provide job-training and meaningful work in a therapeutic environment.
The Project began as a place to provide sanctuary, refuge and meaningful work within the healing environment of the organic farm.