Hello everyone. I’m Mary and I’m really glad to be here talking to you but also very nervous. I don’t have much experience being a public speaker and I’m kinda shy until you get to know me. So this is kind of a big deal. I came to HGP when it was still a three year program, and I’ll be transitioning out at the end of the month.
What brought me to HGP:
I grew up in foster care, moving from home to home often until I turned 18. At that point, I was on my own, without family support. So I turned to drugs looking for belonging. Luckily, it only took three years for that to get old for me, and at 21, I hit the road. Since I was six, I have dreamt of traveling the country, so I packed my bag, grabbed my dog and headed out hitchhiking and riding trains around the country.
I made some good connections in Santa Cruz and came back numerous times before I decided to stay. I was able to stay in a house with some friends until I got on my feet. I had to find a job but I had only worked four jobs or so in my entire life, and at that point, I hadn’t worked in years. Then I found the HGP and fell in love. I had always wanted to work on a farm. So I volunteered every day until they hired me.
What Did HGP do for me?
When I came to HGP, I felt a huge void in my soul and lacked confidence in my ability to live a stable and happy lifestyle. The positive nourishing community of people and plants helped fill that void. I found a family. These are people that I hope to know for the rest of my life. They have given me so much support through everything.
Including the GED, which because of my huge lack of confidence, I felt was impossible. But with the support of my community at HGP and a check put together by Franklin Williams and Paul Lee, (thank you!), I completed my GED, which was a huge boost of confidence.
Then there’s the knowledge I have gained at HGP. When I came I didn’t even feel like I was capable of learning. I have learned so much here at HGP about farming and our food systems and about living a productive life, being able to grow my own food and flowers is so empowering because it makes me feel very self-sufficient and resourceful. Having the support of the HGP community in my life and being able to see the process of growing vegetables and flowers from start to finish has given my life purpose and meaning. That has also contributed to eating healthy and being a part of the food revolution and to my son.
Thanks to HGP, I now have some goals for my life and that is to continue working with plants and people, and help kids growing up in unstable lifestyles to find grounding and purpose through gardening. Because I grew up in foster care and I know how hard that can be. Since I have gotten my life in order, I have wanted to help provide some kind of support to kids in that situation. Then I found CASA–”CASA is a child’s voice in dependency court, providing advocacy, stability, and hope to children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.”
I have applied to be an advocate and am now about to complete the training program on Tuesday. It is just a volunteer position, so in the meantime, I am applying to nurseries and such places that involve plants. Just to put it out there, if anyone knows of any positions available that entail working with plants or gardening with kids or working with kids in the system, feel free to let me know after the speech. I have to do meaningful work in order to be happy.