Here, Amongst the Flowers and Vegetables

Lienallie gave this talk at Permaculture Action Day at our farm on November 4, 2017.  Over the course of the day, about 200 people gathered to take part in a day of hands-on regenerative projects, music, shared food, workshops, and taking action as a community. Lienallie spoke about her experience in Homeless Garden Project’s transitional employment program.  Here are her remarks.

Hello, welcome and thank you for your interest in the Homeless Garden Project and for your presence here today. I’d like to give a special thanks to Permaculture Action Network, for their advocacy work in the community, and to Beats Antique. My name is Lienallie and presently I am a trainee soon to be completing the one year program.

Homeless Garden Project is a training program that provides employment, weekly education in computer skills, and job training, which is all based on the utilization of the organic farm and the products we make using raw materials from the farm. But HGP provides so much more.

In my time here, I experienced deep relationships with trainees and employees, due to the level of dedication the staff exemplifies in the high holistic work they perform, and how and why they choose to do so, and what it cultivates on a personal and community level.

I’d like to share how I came to be in this program. Prior to entering this program, my life was probably parallel to many of yours. I had a job, a house and many plans and goals for my future. However when my job dissolved, I experienced both homelessness and the loss of stability. In short, I felt completely hopeless.

I was raised in a single parent household, the youngest of six siblings, and I experienced the loss of my Dad at a very young age. The loss manifested into a deep anger within my spirit, which still affects me today. This anger has lead to difficulties within my personal and professional relationships and ultimately led to my arrival at HGP. It seemed as my life dissolved one stitch at a time.

The farm has given me the platform to evolve beyond the anger that has held me back.

Here amongst the flowers and vegetables we replant our own paths in life. We cry, laugh and work together. We push forward into all we are destined to become because we have been gifted with the time to grow on the farm at HGP. This unique organic 3.5 acre farm offers so much more to its community and trainees. HGP is a symbiotic, viable tool interfacing to assist those at the bottom, with a willingness to work their way back up.

We’ve all heard the statement “progress is two steps forward and one step backward.” My journey of progress required just that.

Listening to Lienallie

HGP has offered me the ability to catch up with myself emotionally, and showed me how to interface with people in my community in a productive fashion, to achieve a higher degree of skills both technically and personally. Of all the skills I’ve acquired here at the farm, most important to me is the ability to be an effective communicator. I plan to continue to develop this skill, which will serve me for a lifetime.

In closing, thank you again for this opportunity to share my experience at the farm. I’m so thankful for the farm and the opportunity to transform my anger that ultimately held me back. The sum of my words would be deficient if I didn’t acknowledge our many volunteers, and how integral they are to the overall success of our program.

I’d like to leave you with this metaphor. I crawled in like a caterpillar and am emerging as a butterfly. I look forward to seeing you on the farm in the future!

–Lienallie Azevedo is pleased to say she has secured a job that begins after her graduation from HGP, and has enrolled at Cabrillo College for the upcoming Spring Semester. She’s presently looking for secure housing–such as a room–to achieve completion of her goals. (Contact darrieg@homelessgardenproject.org with any leads.)

 

Posted in News and Events, Voices in the Field | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Annual Report: Donors

Many Thanks to All of Our Generous Donors in 2016. Our Garden and Our Trainees Couldn’t Grow Without You!

Sustainer of the Garden ($25,000 and over)

Quentin Hancock             Newman’s Own Foundation

Nurturer of the Garden ($10,000-$24,999)

Monterey Peninsula Foundation      George L. Shields Foundation, Inc.

Patrice Boyle        Cody Swift        Synod of the Pacific

Grower of the Garden ($5,000-$9,999)

City of Santa Cruz        Lakeside Organic Garden        Kevin Miller

Scott Roseman and Jasmine Berke        The San Francisco Foundation

Randy and Kate Whiting and The Brownstone Foundation

The Christensen Fund        Joanna Miller

Cultivator of the Garden ($2,500-$4,999)

New Leaf Community Markets      Jerry and Sylvia Deck      Rainbow Light

Trinity Source Group      UNFI Foundation     Anonymous

Brian and Patricia Herman      Jennifer Jones      Grace Voss

Sower of the Garden ($1000-$2499)

Vera & Elliot Aronson      Awe Sum Organics      California Certified Organic Farmers, Inc.

Driscoll’s      Mary Edmund      Marilyn Corson Everlane      Fidelity Charitable Fund

Jacobs Farm-Del Cabo Inc.      Joseph & Louise O’Toole Foundation      Bonnie Keet

Tom Lehrer      Brian O’Toole      Outstanding in the Field      George Ow

Kathy and Michael Sherman      Eta Somekh Family Foundation

Presbytery of the Redwoods      Akif Uzman and Amy Sater      Alice Waters

Naomi and Asher Brauner       Allison and Douglas Garcia

Edward and Claire Bacher      Joan Springhetti      Cathy Calfo

Elizabeth Burton and Andrew Firebaugh      Jim Howes      Jonathan Franzen

Alexander and Jean Grillo      Kathy Runyon      Peter and Patricia Biocini

Matt and Peg Guerrieri      Ellen Martin      Jeanette and Klaus Katzlberger

Margaret McCue      Joan Osborne      County of Santa Cruz      Becky and Jim Lang

John Allured      Furthur Foundation      Austin Sherwood      Ralph Alpert

Rosemary and Simon Hayward      Sally Shepherd      Joe Mingione

Supporter of the Garden ($500-$999)

Anonymous     Artistic Reflections      Bank of America United Way

Katherine Beiers      Mathew and Josephine Birnbaum      Dan Blunk      Vicky Britton

Harold Brockman      Dale Buche      Justin Carr      Gerald and Bonnie Christensen

Krista and Scott Colquitt       Eric Cotts     Arthur Coulston      Pamela E Davis

Joan Delfino      Martha and Patrick Dexter      Dwayne and Linda Downing

Exxon Mobil Foundation      Karen Fraser      Brett Fredericks     Freedom Lions Club

Alexander Gaguine      Benjamin Gallant     Frank and Susan Ganzhorn     Douglas Garcia

Michelle Gates      Sheila and Dean Gottehrer       Nancie Graham      Charity Guerrero

Dennis Hagen      Mary Ellen Hannon      Barbara and Stephen Jackel      Steven Keller

Jeanne and Doug Korns      Val Leoffler and Doug Hellinger      Mark Lipson

Nancy Loshkajian      Srina Lynne      Marilyn Manning      Eloise Martindale

Angelina McClellan      Matthew Nathanson      Aura Oslapas and Bob Arko

Jonathan Partridge      Nick Pavlina       Sue Pierce      Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos

Ann Ramer      Kathy Ready       Sonia Rodriguez       Grace Sanchez and Thomas Bush

Meg Sandow      Andrew Shore      Diane Simpson       Alexandra Snyder       Helen Taylor

The Ruth M. McGee Family Trust      Susana Traber      Trinity Drilling, Inc.

Max Turri and Kim Eabry      Martha Vickers      Denise Vogel

William L and Carol Wass     Sarah Wasserman and Ron Emerson     Linda and Ron Weaver

Habib Zakerani and Mahnaz Motayar      Lori Zink

Cultivator of Community ($250-$499)

Lynne and Dan Alper      Ginny Aragon      Robin Atwood      Yong Bai      Anna Bartolini

Lillian and Thomas Beggs      Ted and Nancy Biagini       Joya and Daniel Birns

Elizabeth Brennan      Linda and Walt Brown      Bonnie Brunet      John Burr

Linda Charman      Howard and Lisa Charnock      Cynthia Chase

Anne Marie and Carl Christensen      Janice Cockren     Richard Coffey    Margaret Collins

David and Mary Jane Cope      Dawn Coppin      Covenant Presbyterian Church

Olga De Santa Anna      David Dexter      Patrick Dexter      Discretion Brewing

Joshua Drews      Emily DuBois      Eventbrite      Matthew Farrell

John Faulkner      David Fryxell      Darrie Ganzhorn      Peter Gelblum

Roxana Goin      Henry and Carol Goldberg      Kathryn Gordon      Linda Graham

Lindsey Grahm-Jones      Pat Henderson      IBM Employee Services Center

Bob and Betty Imlay       JustGive      Jon Kersey and Alice Benet       Michelle Kong

Phil Kramer      John Laird       Grace Laurencin      Live Like Coco Foundation

Julianna Lin      Deborah Luhrman      Nancy MacLean      Suzanne MacLean

Barbara Meislin      Mesiti-Miller Engineering, Inc.     Alexis Morgan      Thomas Nelson

Joyce Nordquist      Irene Osterbrock      Charlene and Leo Ott      Patagonia Outlet

Armand Petri and Wendy Johnson      Sharon and John Pettigrew       Karleen Quick

Felicia Rice       Blair Roberts       Marilyn Robertson      Teresa Ronsse       Dorothy Ruby

Carolyn and Darryl Rudolph      John Russell      David and Mary South

Peter Szydlowski      Edgar Thrift      Richard Verrow and Ann Russell      Janet Volpe

Jackie and Peter Whiting     Lloyd and Bonnie Williams    Rick Wright and Tamara Santos

Andrew Wulf

Friend of the Garden ($100-$249)

A Tool Shed Equipment Rentals      Marty Ackerman      Adventure with a Cause

Janet Akaha      Leyna Allred      Alta Coffee      Archbishop Mitty High School

Christine and Bradley Asmus      Verna Bacon      Adrianna Bailey      Robert Balweg

Charles R. Barnes      Carolina Bayne      Marianne Beckwith      John Belz

Andrew Bensky      Russel and Erica Berg      Jane Blackman      Judy Blevins

Nancy and Henry Bley      Susan and Robert Bosso      Thomas and Rita Bottoms

Marcia Brandwynne      Jesse D Bregman and Ziggy Rendler Bregman      Jeff Brittan

John Brown and Family Cycling Center      Nancy and Glen Brown      Ian Bruce

Jesse Burgess      Edmund and Carolyn Burke      Cecily Cahill

Coleen Cantwell and W. Scott Berry      Teresa Carley      Andy Carman      Will Cassilly Jr.

Kathy Chetkovich      Circle Church      Lawrence and Arvilla Cline      Benjamin Coates

Jesse Cohn      Gena and John Connelly      Teresa Connor      Barry Cowen

Connie Croker      Deborah Culmer      Joan DeNeffe      Lucille Des Jardins      Peggy Dilfer

Emily and Lee Duffus      Roberta Dunton      Edward and Janas Durkee

Steve Eabry and Jane Wheeler      David Engberg      Amy Kellington Evans

Andi Wass and Scott Failor     Bonnie Faraola     Marty Feldman

Margaret and Donald Fitzgerald      Christina Floyd      Bob and Denise Fosburgh

Jane Freedman      Mimi French      Judy Fried and Bob Scowcroft

The Garden Company      Brett Garrett      Anne and Curtis Gavin      Kathy Gertler

Daryl Gerwin      Maria Gitin      David Go      Joann and Marc Godoy

Wesley Grass      Richard Griffith and Margaret Perham

John Hall and Jenny Broome      Penny Hanna      Hanna Hannah      Analise Hanneman

Debbie Harless      Rosalind and Harold Hastings      Edward Hearn and Linda Arnold

Farol Henderson and Mike Vickers      Joan and Patrick Henry      Nancy Hiestand

Hilda Hodges and Don Hodges, M.D.      Linda Hogan      Denise Holbert     Gregory Holmes

Margaret Horton      Jeanne Howard      Tawney Hughes      The Humana Foundation

Sam Huynh and Gabrielle Korte      Robin Imlay and Jeffrey Hing

Christine and John Irving      Lee Jaffee      Mary James      John and Judy Jeter

Abigail Jones      Susan Kauffman and Steve Lustgarden

Patrice and Robert Keet      Claudia Kenyon      Amy Key

Robert and Michele Kibrick      Elaine Kihara and David Sweet      Wendy King

Richard Kittler      Joyce Kutcher      Jessica Lacy

Geoffrey Lamb      Linda Larkin      Lesley Lathrop      Eric Laumann

Keith and Florence Lesar      Hans Leuthold      Lynn and Kim Lew      Meryl Lewin

Lighthouse Bank      Tracy Ligon      S Paige Liu      Sheldon Logan      Richard Lonergan

Glenn Lyons and Nancy Gerdt      Annette March      Elaine Matthews

Tina M Mazzei      Cory McCabe      Nancy McCalister and William McCalister, Sr.

Timothy McCormick and Noel De Gelleke      Brian & Shea McElroy      Lynn McKibbin

Nicholas Meier and Elizabeth Good      Andrew Meisel      Nick Meltzer and Anita Diaz

Minerva Mendoza      David Mercer      Grace Merritt      Craig Metz

Betty and Peter Michelozzi      Abbie and Tim Miller      John Miller      Mark Miller

Matthew Miller and Janet Kaseda      Marlene Mirassou and Steve Houlins

Morgan Stanley      Dana Morrison      Jonathan Mosney

Julie Murphy      Andrew and Linda Neher      Saugher Ngan      Randell Nielsen

Sarah Nielsen      Phyllis Norris     Notre Dame San Jose     Ariane Otto

Pacific Collegiate School      Janet Parker and Bruce Berwald      Pamela and Al Patrick

William Pearlman      Dianne and Stephen Pereira      Monica Pielage and Blake Cooper

Henry and Wilma Plummer      Prima Salon      Ellen Primack and Eric Schmidt

Jean and Edward Ranck      Rowland and Pat Rebele

Craig Reinarman      Resurrection Church      Barbara and Robin Riggins

Roger and Dory Rindge      Lisa Rose      Rossi’s Body Shop & Towing Service

Donald and Diana Rothman      Donna Runnalls      William Salmansohn

San Lorenzo Middle School      Jagan Sankaranarayanan     Santa Cruz County Bank

Judy and Jim Schultze      Schwab Charitable Fund     Peter and Celia Scott      David Senter

Laurie Senter      Shen’s Gallery & Imports, Inc.      Judith and John Shepherd

Sheril Shipe      Jacob Sidman and Kris Sidman-Gale      Nikki Silva and Charles Prentiss

Nirvikar Singh       Carol and Tom Smith      William Snell

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church      Amy Stewart      Mark Stone

Eva Strnad and Doug Sherman      Mary Strunk and Kent Dannehl

Thomas Sutfin and Ann Baier      Woutje Swets      Rohanshah Talip      Dee Tannenbaum

Brise Tencer      Terre and Charles Thomas      Nils Tikkanen      Carol Tougas

Transcend Insights, Inc.      Giselle Tsering      Kristen Tsukushi      Katherine Van Sluys

Pamela Vesley      Mike Vignau      Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County

Carri and Steven Wagner      Kyle Wagner      Jenni and Nathan Ward

Michael and Susan Warren      Kerstin Wasson and Bruce Lyon     Stan and Margitta Welsh

Mary Wieland and Ronnie Lipschutz       Will Swim For Food      Richard and Nicci Winner

Jonathan and Susan Wittwer      Janice Zappa       Judy Ziegler

Farmer in Training ($100 dollars or less)

Tammy Abraham      Janet Acheatel      Leila Al-Hamoodah      Mark Alexander

Judy Allen and Susan Seaburg      Patrick Allmann      John and Jennifer Anderson

Linda and William Anderson       Jaime Andres-Larsen      Linda Armstrong

Jeff and Rita Aron      Shannon Arrechea       Abbey Asher      Cecilia Avila-Gallo

Madelaine Baer      Esther Barbour and Anthony Crane      Mary Ellen Barr

Nibby and Mark Bartle      Courtney Bass      Sarah Beaver      Donna Becker

Valerie Bengal      Elaine Bennet       Cher Bergeon      Len Beyea

Donald Biek      Gretchen Bishop       Sandra Borak       Stuart Brager      Babette Brekka

Greg and Ching Brodsky       Jeffrey Brown      Hilary Bryant      Megan and George Bunch

Justine Bykowski      Cafe Cruz      Ruth Campbell      Susan Cannon and David Borders

Catherine and Max Carithers      Glenn and Denise Carter      Mahala Carter

Cen-Con Inc.      Joanne Chamberlin      Sarah Clarkson

Cynthia Cline and George Bloomstrand      Tracy Cole and Jon Jiles

Rebecca Cole and Howard Malcolm      Tyler Comann     Madeline Conlon

A. Copernicus       Jack and Susan Cortis     Michael Coulson      Jo Covone      Aaron Cozen

Barbara Crane       Chris Creighton      Janice Crooks and Robert Jorgensen

Gregory Crosswhite      James and Joyce Crowley      Mary Cunningham

Nanda Currant      Barbara Cushing     Kelly Damewood

Christine DeLapp       Jan and Edwin Dexter      Sharon Dirnberger      Monika Dorough

Richard and Diane Doubrava      Virginia Draper      Andrew Drescher      Geoff Dugwyler

Joan and Bill Dunn      Beth Dyer      Anne Easley      Sabrina Eastwood

Nadav Eiron      Ericsson Employee Engagement Fund

Christine Louise Evans and Nicholas Ross     Barbara Fagan-Smith

Yvonne Falk      Fat Wreck Chords      Kimberly Ferm      Andrew and Betsy Finfrock

Jan and Jerry Finney      Steve and Jan Fischer      Marianna and James Franks

Mark Fredisdorf     Ann Freitas      Carol A Fuller

Silva Galstyan      Betty Gangware       Lisa Garmat

Michael Gasser      Jonathan Gelder      David Giannini      Lynne and William Giles

Joyce and Joseph Giunta      Robert Goff and Eleanor Littman      Edward Goldberg

Amber Goldfeld      Lois and Walter Goldfrank      Ellis Goldfrit      Juliet Goldstein

Meg Goldstein      Lynn Gordon      Melanie Grimm      Karen Groppi       Diane Grunes

David Guerrieri      Evin Guy      Yannis Guzman      Nathan Hahn      Alex Halbach

Darcy Zwissig      Meg and Don Harlor      Lulane Harrison      Jennifer Heeter

Terra Heilenbach       Joan and David Hentges      Elba and Joe Hernandez

Joel Herzel      Karen Hicks       Daniel and Rebecca Hollingsworth      Sean-Michael Holman

Home School Group       Eddy Howard      Nikki Howe      Marcia Hunt      Intel Corp.

Roberta Jaffe      Anne Jeffrey      Wes Jordan       Bruce and Pina Kamolnick

Aurora Kasten      Vern Katz and Deb Dotters      Dilpreet Kaur

Donald and Barbara Keeler       Terrill and Robin Keeler      Susan Kerr      Nihar Khedekar

William and Jennifer Kingsley      Jack Kisling      Alisa Klaus      Pat Klein

Kathryn Kovaleff      Lindsay Kozicz      Susan Krivin and David Ohanesian     Ana Krulec

Michael Laffoon       Pamela and Charles Landram

Don Lane and Mary Howe      Deanne Lange      Suzanne Langridge      Monica Larenas

Edward Larson      Elizabeth Lass       Isabella Lee      Erik and Dolores Lenander

L. Stevan Leonard       Talia Lesser      Nancy and John Lingemann       Kirsten Liske

Cornell Littell and Bill Littell, Jr.      Don Livesay      William Locke-Paddon

Golden Love and Beth Love      Karen Lynch      Bridget Lyons      Jolie Ma

Martine Mahoudeau       Keri Maijala       Kay Mascoli      Ronald Maysenhalder

Sharon Mckinstry      Ginger McNally      Fred and Marianna Mejia

Kathryn Metz      Nada Miljkovic      Anne and Owen Miller      Matt Miller

Robert Monsen      Michael Morton and Nancy Lewis

Kristin Mun       Emily Musgrave      Norman Nelson       Susan Nelson

Sonya Newlyn and Jeff Stock       Lydia Nichols      Vicki Noble

Shane and Christie O’Brien       Cheri O’Neil     Organic Trade Association

Vivienne Orgel     Glenn Oviatt      Cameron Partridge      Gary and Marilyn Patton

Julia Patton      Susan Payne      Erika Perloff      Joyce Perrelli

Priscilla and Sidney Peters      Scott Poncetta      Patricia Poritzky      Siddharth Priya

Steven Ramirez      Beth Rankin      Cory Ray      Jake Retz      Loren Reynolds

Mary and George Reynolds       Julianne Rhodes     Alfred J and Maureen Richard

Bill and Pam Richter      Diane Rivas

Daniel Roddick and Janet Capanna       Eleanor and Hans Rosenhast       Gilbert Rothweiler

Teresa Rousse      Ruth and Nick Royal      Yaron Rozenbaum and Andrea Amoedo

Diann Russell      Mark Sabo       Lanier Sammons      Santa Cruz Garden Club

Catherine Sarto      Alan Savat and Gene Smith     Shirley Schiffrin     Terri Schneider

Cora Schoppe     Anthony Schumacher      Ruth Segal      Jack Senter        Emily Senz

Laura Shepardson       Joyce Shimizu      Sheila Siegel

Sandra Silver       Mario Singleterry and Lori Fukuda      Jeff Sipe

Bertine and Ken Slosberg      Andreas Slovacek      Angie Smith      Donna Smith

Maggie Smith      Margaret Smith      Therese Smith      Claire Sommargren

Carol Souza       Specialty Studios      Michael Spitalnik       Robert Stayton

Robert Stockwell and Stacy Kamehiro      Wendy Strimling      Mary and James Sundeen

Angela and Julius Surkis      Irantha Suwandarathna      V Swaminathan

Neal and Kathleen Swanson       James Thompson      Matthew Thompson      Ann Timm

James Tucker and Laura Kaplan      Jennifer Tyson      UC Berkeley Alternative Breaks

Ruth Updegraff and Mark Hamersly      Vanguard Realtors      Diana Vaniotis

Andrea Vettori and Margaret Winters      Boaz Vilozny and Madeline Harrison

Dick and Marion Vittitow       Nikolas Vogt      Karl von Ahnen      Richard Voss

Larry Wallman      Meris Walton      John and Sandra Warren      Elizabeth Watson

Judy Weaver-Lowenberg      Jane Weed and Ronald Pomerantz

Katherine and Barry Welch       Eliana Willis      Paul and Katherine Winkler

Paul Winter      Norm Winton      Nanlouise Wolfe      Sarah Wood

Inbal Yassur       Charlene Young       Marie Young      Youth NOW

Jan and Margaret Ysselstein      Maria Zamudio and Patricia Shea

Rick Zinman and Doreen Schack      Nina Zoppi

IN-KIND Donations

Bob Carlton Graphics           ADP      Koppes Plants      KSCO – AM

Mike Arenson      Sage Farrell      A Tool Shed Equipment Rentals      Sharlene Goings

Kathy Haber      Lisa Johnson      La Selva Beach Community Church      Mission Floors

New Leaf Community Markets      Anne Cawleg      William Elliot      Stephanie Friedrich

Stephanie Kubala      Suzanne MacLean      Mobile Auto Glass      Rose Murphy

Stella Sexmith      Joanne Yablonsky      Caroline Groux      Kelly Rodamer

Santa Cruz Retired Employees Association

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shelter from the Storm

Justin gave this talk to guests at Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Farm Supper, 9.16.2017

Good Evening!  First of all, I would like to thank everyone for being here tonight.  And an extra special thank you to Mr. Tom Steyer and Ms. Kat Taylor  for volunteering your time and energy to be with us tonight.

But whether you are here to volunteer, work, donate, or simply enjoy a wonderful night with great company and delicious fresh farm to table food, thank you, sincerely, for being here.

Coe Holtaway photo

It is truly an honor to be asked to speak at such a special occasion, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to express myself.

So I have decided I will begin tonight like we do every Tuesday morning at circle, and have a check-in.  Tuesday morning circle can get a little personal, and I promise my share tonight won’t be any different.

My name is Justin and I am a trainee at the Homeless Garden Project.  Tonight, other than being a little nervous, I am doing great and happy to get the opportunity to share this evening with y’all and eat world class food in the middle of my favorite field in the town of Santa Cruz.  It’s September, so the autumn weather (which is my favorite) is beginning to arrive and some north west swells are beginning to hit our shores.  So naturally, I am stoked.

Other times though, I am a mess.  Though I am blessed with a wonderful family,  who was able to make it tonight, and great education, I also have a thing called unspecified bipolar disorder and am in recovery from a drug and alcohol problem.  These times when I’m unstable, I think about all of the felonies I have gotten for things I’ve done while manic and psychotic. A different Justin than the one who is talking here today.  Like a bewitched Don Quixote, I have literally scared the crap out of friends, parents, siblings, and neighbors, and burnt bridges with several landlords and employers.  I cry when I think about it.  Who is ever going to give me a real job? Who is going to let me rent from their property with my background of psychotic behavior?

When I have these thoughts, it feels utterly hopeless and helpless, and I think about all of the people, just in this little town of Santa Cruz who must feel the same way. Many people like me, who have mental health or substance abuse problems end up on the streets. Most aren’t lucky enough to end up in a rehabilitation center like me, with a bed to sleep in and a roof over their head.

And this is why I am grateful for the Homeless Garden Project, which every day, when I come to work, gives me hope.

Tonight is a representation of a community recognizing these issues, and a small independent non-profit organization trying to do something about it.  I will say from a trainee’s perspective, we, collectively, are extremely thankful for this project. Hella thankful.  The HGP provides a safe and sober work environment where we can come to be relieved from the problems we face outside either on the street or in recovery centers.  As Bob Dylan would put it, the HGP provides Shelter From the Storm.

The Homeless Garden Project offers work to all of us without discrimination, regardless of our criminal background, substance abuse, or mental health backgrounds as long as we share the same goal of finding a full-time job and housing.  Not only does the program offer indiscriminate acceptance, but the work we do promotes healthy healing.  The seeds we plant do not discriminate and the flowers blossom for everyone, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.  This garden is a true place of acceptance and I welcome and thank everyone here for being a part of the beauty of this acceptance.

If you are here tonight, it is likely you realize that today we live in a difficult age where our mind, our bodies, our society, and our relationships are out of whack.  Our society is fragmented by income inequality and stressors are driving many of us out of control.

Again HGP comes to the rescue.  Gardening is a universal grounding practice that teaches us stillness and relieves anxiety.  At least I have found this for me  and have felt incredible personal growth and inner stillness in the garden.

So tonight, that was my share.  I invite each and everyone of you to someday join us on a Tuesday morning, so we can hear yours  I feel the more we open up and be honest about our situations, the more we can all personally heal.  Thank you all once again, and I wish you all a good evening!

Justin started as a trainee this May. He currently lives at New Life Recover Center. He studied Philosophy at Middlebury College before getting his MA degree at Monterey Institute for International Studies. He’s a surfer, an avid sportsman, a musician and a writer. In addition to working at HGP, he currently works at Epicenter Orchards and milks goats and a cow at a homestead in Happy Valley.

Justin started as a trainee at the HGP in May of this year.  He currently lives at New Life Recovery Center. He studied Philosophy at Middlebury college before getting his MA degree at Monterey Institute of International Studies. He’s a surfer, an avid sportsman, a musician and a writer. [Do you want all that here? Sure, why not] In addition to working at HGP, he currently works at (Freddy’s farm – Epicenter Orchards) and milks goats and a cow at a homestead in Happy Valley.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shepherd’s Purse

My name is Ali. My favorite flower, Shepherd’s Purse, is a weed. You can find an abundant amount of it in the cracks in the sidewalks along the streets and even next to the highway. It is strong and delicate with roots that can survive and help to heal dying soil. it has small heart-shape seeds that contain properties that help to clot blood and used to be used to survive battle wounds. When I run into this weed I remember that I’m alive and surviving, vulnerable and beautiful, and able to be of service — a part of all things living and dead.

I think everyone has a seed of intention that they are born with waiting to blossom and be a part of the universe. For most of my life, I felt in search or in need of a guide to help me navigate my path. Even as a child, I felt a deep desire to help other people be happy and I would play with them so we could have moments of truth together.

Growing up I felt the suffering of my family, with an addict father and a single mother struggling to sustain my sister’s and my life. I found the bigger picture in which we live, and turned towards helping to heal others and the world–create social change so we could all live in a happy, sustainable life of abundance and love. I joined various movements working on social change, but the more I jumped from place to place, I was always faced with myself, fighting and full of anger, and allowing it to feed my addiction.

Addiction is a hereditary disease of the brain, recognized by the American Medical Association. When my addiction was activated and become so bad that I was using 24/7, completely isolated, constantly on the verge of complete homelessness and unable to love, headed quickly towards a sure death, I realized I had lost my intention. I was no longer growing and I knew I could, so I chose to do something different.

I admitted myself to Janus, an inpatient rehab center, and spent two months there. When I graduated, I had little direction, and a lot of desperation, hope and faith. But most importantly I had a guide, my Higher Power. Immediately I was hired as a trainee for the Homeless Garden Project, a place where I found security, and sustainability, a lot of opportunity to heal and to cultivate life and practice social change. I was a seed of intention, given the right environment, elements, community…nurtured, determined, hard-working, and growing so that I could offer myself to the world like a tomato plant tomatoes and we get to make a salad and share it together at lunch time!

The Homeless Garden Project practices social change. Creating social change is a practice of sustainability, by co-creating community, sharing food, helping each other and the earth to heal, and live within today’s circumstances by providing security. There is a lot of unsustainability in the universe, all the way up to all the various technologies we don’t know how to clean up out of the atmosphere because we cannot afford it. This is how capitalism works, it needs more and more to sustain itself and only itself. Homelessness is an inevitable outcome.

The donations that go straight toward the trainees’ wages are an act of care and giving, the exact opposite of how capitalism works. It subverts capitalism, without creating a fight, but by helping others make a transformation. I hope that we continue to build this community in which all people and living things are supported on their life paths, so that seed of intention that they hold within them can blossom and belong to the universe.

Ali graduated from the Homeless Garden Project. She has found her path, working as a preschool teacher and going back to school for a Waldorf Teacher Training program. She is able to help play and cultivate imagination in the most loving and open children’s lives that she works with. She continues at Homeless Garden Project as a volunteer.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Voices in the Field | Leave a comment

A State of Being Akin to Drowning

Shannon McGurk (left) at Homeless Garden Project's Sustain Supper, June 2017

Shannon spoke at our Sustain Farm Supper on June 10, 2017 to over 200 people.

Good evening. My name is Shannon McGurk and I am a trainee at the Homeless Garden Project.

This experience has been a genuine blessing in so many ways during a particularly transformative part of my life.

From a very conservative Roman Catholic upbringing as the oldest of fourteen children, through an enlistment in the United States Marine Corps, and finally after four chaotic years of homelessness, I found myself fresh out of incarceration, unemployed and genuinely hoping to transform an entirely unmanageable life into one where I was a functional member of society.

The social worker responsible for overseeing my transition to normalcy was the one who introduced me to this project and, after a trial period, I was given the opportunity to participate in the program and begin forging a life I knew I was worth.

The Homeless Garden Project is an excellent way to introduce a sustainable transition to living a life of moderate stability, in contrast to the feral nature of America’s homeless scene. I had the most success using the Project in tandem with a completely sober way of living, with some help from the AA and NA community of Santa Cruz.

When an individual becomes homeless in America, through a multitude of life choices, their situation and options change dramatically, and this spectrum of conditions is so different, for so many people.

In my time living outside in Santa Cruz, I had accumulated a plethora of non-violent offenses.

It is illegal to sleep outside at night in most of the United States, so unless you’re hidden quite well, the police will show up and write you a ticket, and this occurred much more frequently than any other charge with me.

During my period of homelessness and addiction, I developed a great deal of empathy for all types of people on the street. With society’s general attitude towards panhandlers and the homeless, I, along with many other people, chose to find solace and escape in alcohol and other mind-numbing substances.

When I would get too drunk and when the police began to find me drinking habitually, I started getting arrested simply on the suspicion of being drunk in public. Eventually, with mounting tickets that I couldn’t hope to pay, I was given 8 months in jail, which, due to overcrowding, was actually only four.

In short, being homeless in America is a state of being that is akin to drowning, with society circling in a lifeboat alternately asking why you’re drowning, berating you for drowning, and demanding payment to come aboard. Upon release, I found the idea of repeating this cycle unbearable, and decided to remain sober and hoped to change my life.

When I was released my social worker informed me that the project was running a two-week trial hire for up to 15 new employees. After applying, I remember being very eager to try this relatively new idea of keeping a job, something I hadn’t done since being discharged from the military.

HGP Resume workshop, early Spring 2017

For me, the organic meal the farm provides on workdays, as well as it being a 5 hour workday was perfect for the homeless being introduced to an alternative to the wild lifestyle they are used to. The project also has the addition of a social worker for each of its trainees, who help the fledgling employees navigate a world that probably moved past them in the years on the street, and can be quite intimidating.

I truly wish with every fiber of my being that the farm could help more of the homeless and disenfranchised people in Santa Cruz that truly need and desire help. Right now the project only has room for 17 trainees, and if these lucky few approach life wanting sobriety as well as a job, their chances of success are much higher.

The Homeless Garden Project is a society, on a miniature scale, that genuinely cares about

Standing ovation for Shannon

you and wants you to succeed. It also, in my opinion, surpasses probation and court mandated programs in actually helping people experiencing homelessness achieve a fruitful life.

Two of the most concrete goals I have achieved are a commitment to sobriety and a relation with the Veterans Resource Center that has proven very beneficial in terms of housing and transportation.

HGP has helped me so much and I hope it can continue to help the people of Santa Cruz for many years to come. –Shannon McGurk

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Digging Deeper into “Cultivating Community:” Our Community Education & Volunteer Program

One goal of our community education and volunteer programs is to create the Inclusion in our vision statement: We envision a thriving and inclusive community, workforce and local food system.

A recent study performed by UCSC researchers, Heather E. Bullock, Shirley V. Truong, and Lina Chhun was published in the Journal of Poverty.  You can read Combatting Social Exclusion: “Safe Space” and the Dynamics of Inclusion at a Homeless Farming Site here. We’re so grateful for our partnership with researchers at UCSC for all they teach us. Below is a very brief summary of and excerpts from their in-depth, peer-reviewed study.

A growing body of research examines how marginalized groups construct “safe spaces.” By providing “breathing room,” these “recuperative spaces” allow marginalized groups to counter dominant stereotypes and “to grow roots, develop, flourish, engage, critique, and just relax with similarly situated others” (Weis & Fine, 2000, p. 1).

Among people who are low income and/or unhoused, class-based stigma and the material deprivation of economic hardship may create unique challenges to the formation of “safe spaces.” Negative stereotypes about poverty limit opportunity and fuel anti-homeless attitudes among the nonpoor; these same stereotypes may also contribute to social distancing among people who are similarly situated, making the formation of social alliances especially challenging among people who are homeless.

Among informants, the farm provided more than economic resources and access to social services; it provided a safe, alternative community that affirmed self-worth and dignity. Descriptions of the farm contrasted sharply with the discrimination and harassment that were daily occurrences in other public spaces.

Ultimately, acceptance and space to be oneself contributed to self-growth, “Everybody was so extremely kind to me … I had the freedom to be who I was, and … that freedom … helped me to grow, and helped me to be who I am, and appreciate who I am” (Dan).

Denise explained it this way, “A lot of friendship … it’s rewarding working here. I go home and I feel good, like, I’ve done something good.”

Previous studies find that “safe spaces” provide a respite from stereo-typing and prejudice (Cooper, 2012; Hall & Fine, 2005; Weis & Fine, 2000) and the farm was no exception, providing a place for personal development as well as positive intra- and inter-class interactions.

Institutional practices helped build these bridges. Communal free hot lunch was served daily for anyone who worked, volunteered, or simply stopped by the farm, creating a space for unstructured socializing.

Moreover, an extensive volunteer program fostered interactions between trainees and people who are housed, including frequent group visits from school children, adults with developmental disabilities, senior citizens, and college student interns. In highly segregated communities, such as the region in which this study was conducted, opportunities for interactions across diverse socioeconomic and racial groups such as this are infrequent. In this respect, the farm stood out.

Volunteers, some who stay with the program long-term, work in partnership with trainees on planting and harvesting and unlike off-farm interactions, trainees, with their greater farming experience, were the “experts” rather than “subordinates.” Bill’s comments capture this dynamic:

Everyone’s always passing through, like all the school field trips … wanting to know this and know that … having people walk through and ask you, “oh, what’s this?” … and actually being able to answer it here and there … makes me feel like, “Oh you probably think I’m bigger up on this chain than I am.”

Such interactions not only undermined classist stereotypes of people who are unhoused as lacking intelligence and competence, they also provided much needed opportunities for positive interclass contact. Shared super-ordinate goals, such as the type of teamwork done at the farm, and equalized status (even if temporarily), are important conditions to improving inter-group relations (Pettigrew, Tropp, Wagner, & Christ, 2011). …the farm served as a potential site for improving anti-homeless attitudes among individuals who are more privileged and housed. For our respondents, these interactions provided a “break” from classist devaluation and a “safe” context in which to interact with people who are housed.

A strong sense of responsibility for each other and shared safety was also essential to making the farm a “safe space.” With hate crimes and other forms of violence against people who are homeless on the rise nationally and strict local ordinances against camping and public sleeping (Bancroft, 2012; NCH, 2014; NLCHP, 2011), respondents were keenly aware of the need to keep each other and the farm “safe.”

–Heather Bullock and Shirley Truong; © 2016 Taylor & Francis, Journal of Poverty

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10875549.2016.1186774

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catalyst for Change

April (on right) with dinner guests, Meredith and Vivian

Hello and welcome to our farm and garden. My name is April Wilson and I am blessed and honored to be here. I am a trainee here at Homeless Garden Project. I’ll begin with a testimony about myself and what gravitated me to this ever-giving garden.

I’m a local—born and raised here. I’m 35 years old and single. I was born into a very physically abusive family, with abuse of me as well as between my parents, who were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Despite the differences my parents had with each other, I know my parents loved me, they just didn’t know how ….

I was given a baby brother, Erik, who I love so much. I protected him and my mom with my life from the abuse within the walls of our home. I thought it was my responsibility. Years later, my parents separated. I began to escape into substance abuse. My substance abuse made me no different than them. Soon after their separation, I got a call that my Dad died.

So I found myself, imagine if you would, I was 13 years old, in 7th grade, attending New Brighton Middle School. I already had an alcohol problem, was sexually active, had been raped, beaten and abused. I was an angry, lost soul. I gave up school because I couldn’t maintain proper sleep through the long nights of my parents’ arguing and fighting and my own drinking and running away.

April and HGP Guest, Susan, at our October Sustain Supper

At the age of 13, I got into a relationship that I thought would give me something I had lost, and save me. It lasted for 11 horrific years of control and abuse. I lived in the shadow of a man who only cared for drugs and control. When I was 24 years old, I realized that I needed to get out of this relationship before he killed me. It took me a year; I had to plan my escape to save my life. Another relationship, also full of challenge, life lessons and heartbreak helped me make my new start. He is now my best friend.

During this relationship, I was in and out of incarceration like a revolving door. My brother was the only successful one in our family with a business of his own, though he too struggled with addictions. Looking back now, I think of myself as successful also, through this journey I am on.

Fast forward to the last 5 years. I was finally free from the legal system and on my way to building a positive future. My name came up on the housing list and I was excited to see what it would be like to live a normal life. I got an amazing place in Watsonville close to my mom.

I was caring for her, doing well, loving my life when on September 5, 2013, my life was changed forever; I got a call that my mom was dead. I discovered that my mom was murdered, and robbed of her methadone and that no one would be held accountable. It was the saddest day of my life. My mother was my world and now she is my angel. I love her and miss her very much.

The loss of my mother rippled through my life and I lost my housing. I wound up homeless

Charlie, our emcee, and April

in a car given to me, living with my service dog, Piggy Brown. He is my road dog, and the love of my life, he’s my reason to keep going forward, my happy face puppy, my inspiration.

Six months ago, I made a decision to change my life. I got clean and sober after 22 years of substance abuse. I quit without thinking twice. One month into sobriety, I attended Project Homeless Connect. As I was leaving, I caught a glimpse of Homeless Garden Project’s table and asked the representatives, Mike and Laurie, “What are you offering?” They said, “Transitional employment—just put your name down and show up.”

I am so grateful I did. This place is amazing, the people are wonderful and I am blessed. Caring people like all of you here tonight are the catalyst of change. Working here on this farm, I find I learn new things about myself, and my surroundings and they are life-changing. I feel like Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

I have met so many wonderful and amazing people in the short time I’ve been here. I’ve shared and learned and grown so much that I now feel the future is endless. This is all new to me. I really believe I matter and am important. It’s taken a long time for me to come to terms with my past. I believe whole-heartedly that the Project works.

Many of you come and you hear our testimonies—how through the garden it is possible for us to develop solid connections from the wonderful and understanding staff to all the new interns, fractal after fractal, from the plants, to the flowers, to the people and the soil we are all connected. Like a family. This is my family.

Thank you to our volunteers! I also want to give all of you a big thank you for being here! None of this would be possible without you.

–April Wilson wrote and presented this talk at Homeless Garden Project’s Autumn Sustain Supper on October 22, 2016.

You can help! April has a housing voucher and is looking for a landlord to rent to her. She needs to use the voucher by November 19. Please help her use this opportunity to get into housing–share this message. If you have information about housing or are a landlord, please contact darrieg@homelessgardenproject.org.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2015 Annual Report: Donors

2015 Annual Report: Donors

A  Huge, Warm Thank You to All of Our Many Generous Donors in 2015. Without You, Our Garden, and Our Trainees Couldn’t Grow!

Sustainer of the Garden ($25,000 and over)

Quentin Hancock      Newman’s Own Foundation        Michael Zwerling, KSCO Radio

Nurturer of the Garden ($10,000-$24,999)

Anonymous     Helen and Will Webster Foundation     Monterey Peninsula Foundation

Joanna Miller     Specialty Foods Foundation        George L. Shields Foundation, Inc.

New Leaf Community Markets

Grower of the Garden ($5,000-$9,999)

Patrick Teverbaugh       San Francisco Foundation

Cultivator of the Garden ($2,500-$4,999)

Clif Bar Family Foundation       Paul Lee       Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz

The Joshua Alper-Marines Foundation     Joe Mingione       Sally Shepherd

City of Santa Cruz       Scott & Jasmine Roseman      Michelle Gates

Sower of the Garden ($1000-$2499)

Martha & Patrick Dexter       Benevity Community Impact Fund

Allison & Douglas Garcia       Rosemary & Simon Hayward       John Hester

Phil Kramer    Kelli Greene, Plantronics Inc.     Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Scott & Julie Starling       Joan Cummings       Active.com

Dwayne & Linda Downing       Matt & Peg Guerrieri

Peter & Jeanette Katzlberger       Sangha Shantivanam       Joan Osborne

John & Jerri Walton       John Allured       Mary Edmund       Bonnie Keet

Elizabeth Burton       Covenant Presbyterian Church       Charlie Hong Kong

Ralph Alpert       Beahm Design (Brain Beahm)       Dawn Coppin

Freedom Lions Club       Barbara & Stephen Jackel       Tom Lehrer       Brian O’Toole

Sigma Alpha Chapter Omega Nu       George Ow       Patagonia Outlet (Jenny Garcia)

Henry & Wilma Plummer       Eta Somekh Family Foundation

Leigh Anne Starling       Walker Survivor Fund        Vera & Elliot Aronson

Robin & James Boyle       Bonnie Brunet      Matt Reimert     Joan Springhetti

Woutje Swets

Supporter of the Garden ($500-$999)

Brett Fredericks       Matthew Farrell       Stephanie Pache     Rowland & Pat Rebele

Peter & Patricia Biocini       Carolyn Dille & Dick Walvis       Mark Fernquest

Santa Cruz Rotary Foundation      Frank & Susan Ganzhorn       Becky & Jim Lang

Jim Howes     William L. Price Charitable Foundation    Ginny Aragon      Teresa Ronsse

Patrice Boyle       Anna Bartolini       Patrick Teverbaugh      Angelina McClellan

Linda & Walt Brown      Yvonne & Doug Omer       Mary Strunk      Janice Cockren

Linda & Ron Weaver       Nancy Carmichael       Gerald & Bonnie Christensen

Pamela E Davis       Jane Flury       G.P. Shulz Donor-Advised Fund

Jacobs Farm-Del Cabo Inc.      Lakeside Organic Gardens (JoanneVal Leoffler & Doug

Hellinger)        Analicia Lesnowicz       Ellen Martin       Michael & Carmela McDonald

Sheila Moser        Nordic Naturals        Aura Oslapas & Bob Arko       Perforce Foundation

Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos       Grace Sanchez & Bush Thomas

Santa Cruz Community Credit Union       Santa Cruz County Bank      Claudio Schnier

Max Turri & Eabry Kim       Alice Waters       Dan Blunk       Richard Coffey

Nathaniel Deutsch        Josephine Fleming       Robert Goff & Eleanor Littman

David Kiferbaum      Sebastian Little       Janis O’Driscoll       Carol & Tom Smith

William L & Carol Wass

Cultivator of Community ($250-$499)

County of Santa Cruz       Daniel Mountjoy        Margaret Collins

Joan Ganzhorn       Meris Walton       Karen Lambert

Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of Santa Cruz      Bel Air Presbyterian Church

Marilyn Robertson       Judy Ziegler      Elizabeth Clifton      Henry Martin      Amelia Coplan

Natures Alley       Anonymous       Bonnie & Fred Rosen       Dara Herrick

Suzanne MacLean       Grace Voss      Joshua Drews       Jesse D & Rendler Bregman

Jerry & Sylvia Deck       Julie Edwards       Denise Holbert       Chris Hogeland

Eva Strnad & Sherman Doug       Bank of America United Way

United Way of Santa Cruz County       SunOpta/Tradin Organics

Jonathan & Susan Wittwer       James Brown      Eventbrite       Nancy Graham

Laura & Keith Howard        Johnny’s Selected Seeds      Christopher Jones

Lesley Lathrop      Gail Michaelis-Ow & George Ow Jr.      Betty & Peter Michelozzi

Irene Osterbrock      Charlene & Leo Ott      Presbytery of San Jose (Joey Lee)

Edward Hearn & Linda Arnold       Ken Leinbach      Srina Lynne

Resnick Family Foundation      Linda Graham       Ryan Althaus      Andrew Baraylan

Brian & Anita Beahm       Anne Marie & Carl Christensen      Earl’s Organic Produce

Susan Levit  & Robert Fair       Anne & Gavin Curtis       Abbie & Tim Miller

Milton Meyer Foundation       NEC Laboratories America Inc.       Mark Pollock &

Janet Primack       Roger & Dory Rindge       Kathy & Michael Sherman

Diane Simpson        Stocker Family Fund       The Ruth M. McGeeFamily Trust

Edgar Thrift       Maria Torres & Torres Jr.       Rachel Wedeen       Joanne Yablonsky

Gary Bahena       Katherine Beiers       Sally Brenton       Andrew Coe

Lynne & Eric Cooper       Linda & Gary Covell       Analicia & Dexter Cube

John Faulkner       Nathaniel Gloekler & Lisa Lincoln       Sarah Glommen

Vickie Hinkley      Janet Hutcheson      Keith & Florence Lesar      Nancy MacLean

Matthew Miller & Janet Kaseda       Pamela & Al Patrick       Felicia Rice

Carolyn & Darryl Rudolph       Kathy Runyon      Caitlin Sadowski & Ian Pye

Stanislava Stancheva      Kim Thomas       Lise Weir      Ann Zweig

Friend of the Garden ($100-$249)

Susana Traber       Ana Bacaylan       CCOF Inc.       Emily Lee Duffus       Edna Elkin

Sheryl Pounds       Kathy Chetkovich       Minerva Mendoza       John Gamman

Linda Larkin       Cali West Hospitality Service       Howard & Lisa Charnock

Michelle Cliff       Community Foundation of Santa Cruz      Anthony Crane

Donovan Fong       Foster Gamble      Nancy Hiestand      Yvonne Hopkins

Martha Jordan & Eli Silver       Kaiser Permanente       Joyce Nordquist

Lawrence and Mary Osborne       Michael & Sarah Ray

Jacob Sidman & Kris Sidman-Gale       Karen Skemp       Catherine Steele

University of California, Davis       Richard Russell & Anne Verrow

Wonderful Giving (Dominga Medina)      Robert Allen      John Laird      Eric Laumann

Nitzan Loewenberg       John Miller      Mark Miller      Shirley Garber Schneider

Martha Vickers       Janet Volpe       Nanlouise Wolfe       IBM Employee Services Center

Darlene Seligman        Rachel Wedeen      Mark & Wendi Kramer-Pugh

Marcia & Robert Rider      Kevin Case       Esther Barbour & Anthony Crane Barbour

Thomas Beggs & Lilian Wenzel Beggs      Capitola Village Business      Mark Chetkovich

Krista & Scott Colquitt       Penny Ellis       The Garden Company       Jessica Lacy

Edmond Miga        Priscilla & Sidney Peters       Peter & Celia Scott       Maydeen Stout

Terre & Charles Thomas       Denise & Dave Ward       Ed Bacher       Jaime Garfield

Museum of Art & History       St. Andrew Presyterian Church       Mardi Brick

Diana Hayden        Rachael Spencer & Kevin Rooney       Juleanne Thiebaut      Susan Algert

Kelly Damewood       Olga De Santa Anna      David Dennis

Edible Monterey Bay       Ellis Forbes      Sharon Flynn      Monica Karst

Deborah Luhrman      Margaret McCue      Lisa Rose      Donald & Diana Rothman

Gail Williamson      Aaron Lazenoy      Erin Alder    Ilene Dick

Linda Wilshusen & R. Rock Pfotenhauer        Jane Freedman    Holly Bailey

Anonymous      Jesse Burgess      Janet Moyer      Ron Swenson       Elisa Breton

Meg Campbell      Robert McKim       Ann-Marie & Groner Mitruff

Gary & Marilyn Patton       Eliane Roe     Shmuel Thaler      Todd Anderson

Yong Bai      Camille Ball       Mary Ellen Barr       Bay Federal Credit Union

Julie & Peter Beckmann      Annie Benagorn      Michael Bornn      Margaret Boyes

Glenn Brown        Jeff Brittan       Harold Brockman       John Brown

Vivian & Michael Brown      Edmund Burke      Cafe Cruz      David & Mary Jane Cope

John & Susan Cortis      Connie Croker       Allice De Armond       Joseph & Sonia Dehazes

Lucille Des Jardins       Roberta Dunton      Christine Louise & Ross Evans

Bonnie Faraola      Lynne & William Giles      Becky Gomoll      Lynn Gordon

Laura & Marc Grossman       Analise Hanneman       Rosalind & Harold Hastings

Joan & David Hentges        Linda Hogan        Sam Huynh & Gabrielle Korte

Mary Ingraham       Inroads Christian Church       Linda Kahler      Pamela Kearry

Steven Keller       John Kersey       Robert & Michele Kibrick

Elaine Kihara & David Sweet      Wendy King       William Leland

Erik & Dolores Lenander       Meryl Lewin       Kay & Siegfrid Magenheim      Annette March

Gwendolyn & John Marcum       Joanne Matuzas       Charles & Susan McNiesh

Nicholas Meter & Elizabeth Good Meier      Nick Meltzer      Nada Miljkovic

Marlene & Houlinsn Mirassou      Michael Morton      Matthew Nathanson      Phyllis Norris

Samantha Olden       Darrell Palmer        Dave Pearl (Pearl Construction)      Carole Pherson

Patricia Pimentel       C. Potter      Thankamma Puthiaparampil      Karleen Quick

Ann Ramer      Mathilde Rand      Craig Reinarman       Ristorante Avanti       Janine Roeth

Dorothy Ruby       D.Lynn & William Scally       Nikki Silva & Charles Prentiss Silva

David & Mary South       Amy Stewart      Thomas Sutfin & Ann Baier Sutfin

Dee Tannenbaum      Ann Timm      Yolanda Walton      Michael & Susan Warren

Katherine & Barry Welch       Lloyd & Bonnie Williams       Anonymous

Marianne Beckwith       Michael Bolte       Susan & Robert Bosso      Thomas & Rita Bottoms

Judy Colcough       David Coleman        Tim Cope       Christine & Chris De Vries

Andrea Fazel       Marty Feldman       Theodore & Lynette George        Kimberly Hallinan

Dan Hammer       E.R. Hogness       Suzy Hunt      Deborah Johnson       Susan Kerr

Alisa Klaus        Christian Kocher       Rachel Levin       Daniella Magnano

Andrew Meisel      Ellen Primack & Eric Schmidt Primack       Kathleen Roberts

Tom Shepherd      Joyce Shimizu       Lori Siegmund       Nirvikar Singh       Eric Strader

Jenni & Nathan Ward       Mary Wieland & Ronnie Lipschutz Wieland

Farmer in Training ($100 dollars or less)

Ellie Whisner      Max Prescott       Antoinette & Bennett Coplan

Ruth & Nick Royal      Anonymous      Sabrina Eastwood      Betty Gangware

Daryl Gerwin      Martha Macambridge      Carol Maynard      Morgan Stanley

Rhonda Reed-Schlosser     Jan & Edwin Dexter     Mark Fredisdorf      Andrea Herrick

Uma & Vish Miller       California Marine Sanctuary       Kathleen & Dana Jones

Julia Patton      Christina Waters       Melissa Guajardo

Eddy Howard      Steve Lustgarden      Katie Milazzo       Kris Mitchell

Sally Noorany      Loren Reynolds      Linda Rosewood      Mattew Skaarup

Karl von Ahnen      Adrian Nunez     Naomi & Asher Brauner

Norman Nelson      Angela Flem      Brooks Fisher

Farol Vickers & Mike Henderson      Andrew Hippert      Adrian Jubb

Gary Vollema      Froukje Brouwer      Joanne Chamberlin      Ann Freitas

Lois & Walter Goldfrank     Phillip Gomez     Ryan Hasanna       Marcia Kaplan-Mann

Marty Ackerman      Cindy & Glen Adams      Mark Alexander    John & Jennifer Anderson

Christine & Bradley Asmus     Nibby & Mark Bartle      Carolina Bayne     Donald Biek

Jane Blackman      Peter Bodenheimer      Jack Bowers      Andy Carman

Brian & Kathleen Cayton     Tracy Jiles & Jon Cole

Rebecca Malcolm & Howard Cole      Jack Westenhouse & Judith Crick

James & Joyce Crowley     Rose Cutrer     Patricia Harmon & Ben Damron

Michael Didonato     Ann & John Dizikes     Richard & Diane Doubrava

J. David & Jo Anne Duncan     Edward & Janas Durkee     Beth Dyer

Steve Wheeler & Jane Eabry     James & Paula Faris     Jan & Jerry Finney

Hasanna & Ryan Fletcher      Marianna & James Franks      Susan & Alan Goldstein

Penny Hanna     Joan & Patrick Henry      Christine Hirsch      Margaret Horton

Nikki Howe     Christine & John Irving      Journeyworks Publishing    Wumby Kamiya

Vern & Dotters Deb Katz      Donald & Barbara Keeler

Susan Ohanesian & David Krivin      Pamela & Charles Landram

Paul Durkee & Patty Lawton      Golden & Beth Love      Baruch Lowenberg

Karen Lynch     Glenn Gerdt & Nancy Lyons      Kathryn Metz     Leann Meyer

Sonya Stock & Jeff Newlyn      Jesse & Christine Nickell     Susan Paradise

Dianne & Stephen Pereira      Denise Perston     Chris Peters

Celia & Julien Peterson-Brown     Bernadette Ramer     Gretchen Regenhardt

Alfred J & Maureen Richard     Carolyn Roberts    Rossi’s Body Shop & Towing

Diann Russell     Mario Fukuda & Lori Singleterry     Lee Slaff

Bertine & Ken Slosberg      Therese Smith      Claire Sommargren     Nancy Thomas

James Kaplan & Laura Tucker        Richard Voss      Joan Ward

John & Sandra Warren       Maria Shea & Patricia Zamudio      Robert Balweg

Charles R. & Beverly S. Barnes      Len Beyea       Greg & Ching Brodsky

Andrew & Betsy Finfrock      Karen Groppi       Lulane Harrison      Sarah Herrman

Hilda Hodges M.D.      Geoffrey Hughes     Judith Marie & Kent Imai

Roberta Jaffe      Lisbeth Jensen      Pat Klein     Bill Leland     Rick Longinotti

Stacy Philpott      Bryan Sheperd      Matt Shimizu Jones      Roseann Simonell

Carol Tougas    Mary Williams     Mary Wingert    Cory Woodward

JustGive        Michael Levy       Deborah Madison       Martine Mahoudeau

Christina Pasetta       Todd Anderson       Charity Kenyon       Rick Carter

Alexandra Gregory       Nancy Billings       Joann & Marc Godoy

Susan & Donald Snyder       Abigail Best      Julie Boudreau       Bailey Clark

Mary James      Shigeko Okamoto      Dick & Marion Vittitow       Rebecca Adam

Abbey Asher       Mahala Carter       Mary & George Reynolds      Meg Vollema

Rebecca Zalona       Christine Chang       Monica Larenas       Kirsten Liske

Prima Salon        Sandra Silver       Wendy Strimling       Martha Orr

David & Mary Anne Kramer-Urner       Bob & Betty Imlay        Linda Wolbers

Nancy Bavis        Valerie Bengal       Kaya Brown       Eileen Butcher       R. Cambell

Bryan Campbell       Ruth Campbell        Lawrence & Arvilla Cline       Chris Creighton

Christine De Lapp       David & Nancy Demorest        Ann Marie Escudero

Regina Firpo-Triplett        Ellis Goldfrit (C. J. Gold Inc.)        Ellen Jane Hellen

Jannelee Lang       Margaret & Charles Larsen       Barbara Lathrop

Samantha Li           Justina Louie        Cecelia McNeil

Donna Miguelgorry        Sean Jirsa & Barbara Monaghan        Anandi Paganini

Genevieve Piraino        Deborah & Trowbridge Ross        Shirley Schiffrin

Robert & Kamehiro Stockwell         Margaret Zanzinger       Mike Arenson

Fred Bacher       Bob Clifford        Susan Crocker         Mary Epperson

Cliff & Sara Friedlander       Diane Grunes        Thomas Guerrieri       Patrick Helding

David Levy       Halimah Martin       Judy Monihan       Andrew Purchin        Albert Saul

Alan Smith & Gene Savat        Michelle Sheldon         Martha Shelton        Caryn Simon

Angie Smith        Debra Spector        Christine Weir        Deb Wolfe

Raven Playfaire         Divinitree Yoga Studios        Yeun Byun        Damara Ganley

Michelle Halls       Joyce Hathaway       Ofer Licht       Jennipher Lommen

Kathy Pearson        April Medina        Sheila Payne        Lisa Christensen       Jo Covone

Ruth Hunter       Bruce & Pina Kamolnick       Nancy & John Lingemann

Eloise Martindale        Robert & Penny Milam         Valerie Phipps

Jan & Margaret Ysselstein        Clint Biddle       Jessie Case      Nita Hertel

Amy Longinotti        Kelly Mercer       Robert Stayton         Jude Todd        Shirley L. Gordon

Lisa Hunter        Eleanor & Hans Rosenast        Stephanie Tucker + family

Elizabeth Borelli        Victoria May       Anonymous         Bob Keel

Jaime Andres-Larsen       Anthony Carney        Antoinette Hughes

Talia Lesser        Hannah Levy        Sally Walker        Rosa Wilson       Annie Bacher

Thomas Conlon        John Flem       Linda Marin        Andrew McKeon

Fat Wreck Chords        Anonymous        Bob Lapointe        Kristian Ghazal

Felicia Hinman       Bruce Block & Maria Caradonna        Ted Nichols

Antero Hot Spring Cabins LLC.         Susan Borders & David Cannon        Rivera Cook

Ernest & Dianne Fenn        Lucretia Hall         Amy & David Harrington

Elba & Joe Hernandez        Barbara Kersey        Anne Lober       Maggie & Alan McKay

Redtree Properties       Diane & Bob Schulman      Sherri Stockner

Angela & Julius Surkis        Helen Wallis         Karen & Michael Walters

IN-KIND Donations

A Tool Shed Equipment Rentals         Alexis Party Rental        Bagelry

Bonny Doon Vineyard        Burrell School Vineyards & Winery       Cafe Iveta

Coffeetopia     Devil’s Gulch Ranch       DG Langley Farms       Dirty Girl Produce

StellaEarthworksFarm Fuel Inc.        Felton Feed        Jean Flores       Marsha Frederick

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria        Hobo Wine Company

Kenny Institute of Marine Sciences        Mary & David Jessen      Cynthia Jordan

Koppes Plants       La Onda Sauces       Laura Luddenberg       Martinelli’s & Co.

Kickin’ Chicken       Joanna Miller       Nob Hill Foods

Palace Art & Office Supply       Patagonia Outlet     Monica & Cooper Blake

Pielage PP&C Printmakers at the Tannery       Tony Purlell       Lorraine Randolph

Rangeland Wines        Irene Reti        Route 1 Farms

Sandbar Solar & Electric       Jagan Sankaranaraynan

The Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing        Santa Cruz Pedicab        Santa Cruz Symphony

SC Pedicab       Dee Chow      Sennecke Chow        Soquel Vineyards

Janette Sumano’s Bakery       Swinerton Builders        True Olive Connection

Uncie Ro’s     ViDA Juice

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All Things Are Born Anew

Four days ago, Darrie pulled me aside at work and gave me what felt like an impossibly hard task. I was to write my story of how I got here and how the program has benefited me, and share it with you tonight. I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know what to say. My story is one of unfathomable suffering. On the flipside, my experience here at the Homeless Garden Project is one of indescribable joy. How could I possibly present these two extremes in a safe and comfortable way, let alone in just five minutes? Fear gripped me as I attempted to grapple with my experiences and the immense power of words. Then, I thought about the Garden and the wondrous power it holds. Surely it can hold space for whatever I have to say. And in that space, the words began to flow.

Growing up, I was subjected to severe, long-term traumatization. It was brutal, horrific and grotesque. At eighteen, I was miraculously freed and proceeded to throw myself as hard as I possibly could into recovery work. I spent days at a time journaling, meditating, praying and seeking outside guidance. There were, however, very few people I felt I could trust. My post-traumatic stress made it extremely difficult to form lasting relationships and impossible to work a regular job. I was in a rocky financial situation and terrified of becoming homeless.

Standing ovation at our 7/30 Sustain Farm Supper when Kathleen gave this talk

When I arrived at the Homeless Garden Project eight months ago, I was shy, timid, and shut down. I couldn’t volunteer for more than an hour at a time without becoming overwhelmed and needing to stop. There was, however, a magic here that kept me coming back and in two months’ time, I was hired as a trainee. Immediately, I felt layer upon layer of fear and shame melt away. Organic farming, twenty hours a week, with safe and supportive people. Here was finally something that I could do. Not only was I struck by the beauty of my surroundings, but by the quality of the people who work here: Darrie, the Executive Director, in her quiet, ethereal wisdom; Lindsay, the Training and Education Specialist, in her extraordinary patience and compassion; Chris, the Farm Manager, in his gentleness and humility; Angie, the Retail Manager, in her sharp wit and skill; and Mike, the Production Lead, in his quirky, blunt humor and incredible passion for his plants.

At first, as a new trainee, I struggled, but with the everlasting support and guidance of these amazing people, I began to thrive. A new sense of direction and purpose flowed through my life and internal barriers that once seemed impenetrable gave way. For the first time in my life, I felt open, free and capable. In the loving space of the Homeless Garden, I have become free to express myself and grounded in my choices. I have found stable housing and am working to become a tutor, teaching math to underprivileged kids. The friendships I have made here and the intimacy of the bonds I have formed are indescribable. I have a sense of security and peace now, a foundation upon which I can firmly stand.

I am not, however, the only recipient of these miracles. As my dear friend and former trainee, Laurie Soderman, puts it, “The soil at the Garden oozes with love.” I am but one of countless individuals whose life has been monumentally transformed by the power of the Garden. Whole families have transitioned out of homelessness into stable, secure homes. Alcoholics and addicts have found the courage they needed to get sober and clean. People like myself, who came from the worst of the worst, have found safety, empowerment and self-worth.

The thing I love above all else about this project is that whether you are a volunteer, a staff person, a trainee or simply a friend, there is a place for you here. No matter what it is that you need, there is a sentience in this Garden that will call it forth and manifest it in your life. All it asks is that you be open to receive.

- Kathleen Groves, 19, Homeless Garden Project trainee

From a talk presented at our Sustain Farm Supper, July 30, 2016.  And here is Kathleen’s poem that inspired the name of this post:

Vulnerably
The sweat pea stands
Challenging
Wandering hands

Valiantly
Her twisting vine
Shields the bud
Yet to unwind

In the end
Her petals slip
Into the Earth’s
Tender kiss

Silently
In darkness shroud
The bud emerges
All things are born anew


 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Everything I Need in a Job

On May 27, 2016, I was released from jail after a month of incarceration. I had only been in the car about two minutes when my case worker informed that the Homeless Garden Project (HGP) was going to give jobs to the first 20 people that showed up to their main office; my first inclination was “too much, too fast.” After a little reflection, I went to the office, and was number 13 on the list. Looking back, I consider myself most fortunate indeed.

Getting sober was an intense uphill battle for both me and my court-appointed team. In September of 2015, I was put in Janus, and after a week, my withdrawals were so bad I was sent to ICU at Dominican, then returned to Janus to finish the 28-day program. I then went into an SLE (sober living environment) and started trying to unlearn all the habits I’d formed in the 8 years of my life as an adult.

Addiction was not a problem for me until I was 19, and in the Marine Corps. I was raised all over the world in a very conservative Catholic, military family, and I’m the oldest of 14 children. I joined the Marines at 17, and transitioned from a very sheltered life to a very liberal one; and girls, cigarettes and alcohol became more prevalent. After my tenure in the Marine Corps, I tried briefly to live life normally, paying rent and working, but didn’t enjoy the responsibility after being the oldest of so many children, and being a Marine, so I ran away from all responsibility and became homeless. It felt good.

After 5 years of traveling and drinking, and using all manner of substances, I found myself under a bridge with my girlfriend. We had just done our first shot of heroin and were drinking cheap vodka when there was a huge mental “click” for us. We realized we were going to die if we didn’t get help.

I’ve done all my recovery in Santa Cruz. Pure concentrated power of will is what’s needed for me, combined with threat of incarceration. I’ve done a lot of jail time in multiple counties and states, and it’s one of the few things that frightens me.

After 5 months at Janus’ SLE, I used again after getting stressed out by not being able to pay rent. I went to another program and then back into the same SLE. Then I used again when I couldn’t find work, and overdosed. I came to in the hospital, with my case worker telling me I had court the following day and I would be remanded.  By this time, the court had about enough of my behavior, and were about to just give me jail time (280 days), but I decided to go on Vivitrol, which is a monthly shot that makes it impossible to get high. In my opinion, it’s a miracle drug.

On one of my last days in jail, I was watching TV and got a sort of subliminal message. One of the characters on TV said, “We give you chances other people only dream of, and you throw them away.” That night, I prayed God would give me the miracle that recovery people talk about as soon as I got out of jail. And the day I got out, my case worker brought me to HGP.

Homeless Garden Project is the embodiment of everything I need in a job right now. Everything about it is excellent for a person in recovery, planting seeds and watching them grow is a reflection of what I’m trying to do in real life, to internally start over. When I bike to the farm, I take a wonderful ride down West Cliff, and then show up to work at the place that’s the first job I’ve ever had I don’t hate after two or three weeks. It’s a great place to bond with people from all walks of life, and I’m sure it is an amazing place for people to better understand and humanize homeless people, and to erase classism on all sides of society.

To homeless trainees and housed trainees like myself, HGP is a unique opportunity to try something new and better ourselves. I knew next to nothing about farming or gardening before I started working here, and I learn more every day. I’m very grateful to have this program in my life and if every county had a program like it, it would destigmatize homelessness statewide, maybe then, the nation. The farm as a whole is a perfect marriage of freedom and structure, and is one of the best things in my life today.

–Shannon McGurk is a trainee at Homeless Garden Project.

Note: Shannon participated in a two-week trial hire at HGP eight weeks before he wrote this. We worked with 13 people for two weeks alongside our regular crew, and were able to hire 5 into our training program, including Shannon; others were placed on a waiting list. This process informs our planning to scale up to serving 34 people each year, and eventually 50 people.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments