First off I want to thank Darrie for having me up here, and I want to thank all of you for your time. I am up here tonight to describe my life before and after I found the garden. My name is Ricky, I am a crew member and here is my story.
Knowing pain for so long, you become used to pain; you soak in it, it overwhelms you. It lives in you until you are pain itself. What I knew before the garden was stress, despair and suffering, so as result I was in a dark place for a long time. After my best friend was murdered back home I got a backpack, a little bit of money, and flew out from South Florida to California to find peace. Instead I found myself homeless in Santa Cruz. This may sound more like a tragedy but me being homeless in Santa Cruz is what led me to find the Homeless Garden Project, HGP. I also like to call it the mecca of Santa Cruz, MY holy place. This beautiful place opens up new doors and new discovery to all that are involved.
Polly Cannella Photography
Every time I look up at the farm, I see all types of different people, from the volunteers, team members, our bosses, the You-Pickers, CSA members…with smiles on their faces. I feel complete, a part of something important. From working in the greenhouse, sowing the seeds, to working in the field crew transplanting and harvesting the plants…I cherish every moment the same. Transplanting bundled onions on the first day of work here at the mecca, as I call it, I found it so meditative and so peaceful. I could not believe I was going to get paid for this. It felt just so natural. Honestly, I found a passion for gardening, which is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. I am applying for the CASFS program at UCSC in pursuit of a new career in agriculture. Gardening every day is a blessing and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it on the farm.
Being surrounded by violence, drugs, and mayhem for so long can cause you to forget how
to love – how to love others, how to love life, and most importantly, how to love yourself. Homeless Garden Project has taught me to love again. I know I love myself because I love this place and everybody that is a part of it. I started as a trainee/crew member and now I have a family here at the Garden. We will all continue to grow together as the plants and life around us grow. I was a seed planted when I started to work here and now I can branch off to success.
Thank you all.
Life is good.
God is good.
–Rick Buchalter has experience as a musician and a performer.He’s extremely resilient and a natural leader. Acknowledging this strength he said–”And now I can use that capacity for good.” He spoke at the July 14, 2018 Sustain Farm Supper following Congressman Jimmy Panetta, our keynote speaker.
Thank you to Polly Cannella Photography