Getting Back to the Life I Love and Cherish

My name is Adam, I grew up in Santa Cruz county, in Aptos. My family was a pioneer family before the turn of the century in Aromas, California, where my Great grandfather Homer Marshall, ran a self- service station and a grocery store. In 1951, my Great Uncle Dolan took over the store and gas station. My grandfather was not much of a store worker. He loved the outside and being hands-on. He moved to Watsonville in 1953 and purchased a ranch off of Carlton Rd.

He started out small with a few head of cattle. Then as the years went by, started a small dairy supplying local stores with fresh milk. My grandfather was up at 4am every morning. When I was little, I tried to wake up early so I could see what he was doing.

Hearing the tractor starting up, I’d run as fast as I could to see. He lifted me up and put me on his lap on the tractor. Of course I got to steer! Even though I lived in Aptos, the ranch was my second home. I loved being outside with endless room to play. My brother and I enjoyed it. As the years passed by, the dairy I once knew turned into Ag land for berries all kinds– raspberries, ollaliberries, and strawberries. My grandfather leased his land for many years after.

My brothers and I used to make up games to pass the day. We used to play hide and go seek, tell stories of the berry fields and of course eat all the berries till we got sick. I’d work endlessly at the farm. When I was old enough to work, my grandfather taught me the true value of work and honest. My grandfather was a man of few words. That didn’t stop him from helping others with nothing in return. When I got older and was getting into the workforce these qualities and values from him ran through me.

The first jobs I worked were maintenance, taking apart equipment, using my hands. I loved getting my hands dirty. I felt accomplished when everything was running correctly. I did jobs that were difficult and labor intensive. I love the satisfaction of helping others in need, just like my grandfather. Even though my body was tired, the effort I put into work was worth it.

Now more than ever, I have to work on my life to get back what I have temporarily lost. This is not easy for me. Life can take you different paths– bad or good. I got in some trouble and was incarcerated for two months. I am doing everything I can to fulfill my probation requirements.

I’m ashamed for what has happened. I feel tremendous guilt towards my children. I always thought I’d be a great husband and father to my children. My love for my children will always be with me no matter where life takes me.

I made mistakes and I have to work to correct what I did; it was wrong and selfish. The Homeless Garden Project has helped me with emotional support and a sense of getting back to living once more. We all come from different situations. Instead of hitting a foul, I want to hit a grand slam! –and get back to a life that I love and cherish.

Life gives you options–you can follow them, or you can struggle to
find your way. In a way, it’s ironic. I am a man of few words, but have a heart for life and love.

Adam speaking to Mayor Watkins

When I was released from being incarcerated, I was emotionally in distress and had no family support. I was sinking, trying to have hope. I would gaze at my surroundings, wondering how I would manage. I went to the county assistance and received a pamphlet of all the areas where I could go to get a shower, food or clothes. I looked down at it contemplating where to go, and saw the Homeless Garden Project. I thought it was a place to work for food. I never knew you could get assistance. I didn’t want a hand out, I wanted to work for it.

I had done gardening as a parent volunteer for my children’s school. I was always taught from a young age to work hard and help others in need. So, I went to the Homeless Garden Project and never looked back at sitting in my car again.

At the farm, I was introduced to Mike, Ella and Justin, and I began volunteering. My first impression was the sense of peacefulness and calm. After I volunteered at the farm for a few days, Darrie introduced herself to me and encouraged me to check out Friends Outside. I told her my situation and was willing to do what was needed to help myself. I learned that I could be hired into the training program and after volunteering for three weeks, filled out an application to join the crew. I had hope now! And a drive. And determination that I didn’t know I had before.

Working with the crew is a joy. All of us come from difficult situations and all of us have different stories to tell. Justin, our Training Supervisor, has been such a joy to be around. His calmness makes him a great leader and supporter for all of us. Ella’s determination and willingness to listen to anything, Mike’s hard work and coordination of the farm, and his sense of where the farm production is headed are inspiring. Angie, our store and workshop manager gives me the opportunity to demonstrate my work ethic.

To all my co-workers, you have been amazing! We’ve done so much together. There has been no friction or conflict between any of us, only love and support for the farm, making it a fun place to work and grow.

The farm has changed my life in so many ways. It’s given me hope and a
willingness to live and be a productive member of the community again and to strive to better myself. There is a cure for homelessness–it is through community and outreach programs like Homeless Garden Project. I can only hope that it will expand to help others through a difficult time. The Homeless Garden Project is my home; I’ll never forget it. It’s a magical place that will always be in my heart. It saved my life and gave me hope.

I’d like to invite our crew to come up on stage so you can see that Homeless Garden Project is so much bigger than me, or any individual. We all work together as a team, and we finish as a team.

Thank you for your time!

Adam spoke at the DNA Comedy Lab on December 5, 2019 at our Holiday Celebration and Movie Night. The evening celebrated all that our trainees have accomplished in 2019 to bring our Holiday Store to flourishing—from planting seeds in the Spring for the flowers and herbs used in our products, to crafting wreaths and our diverse product lines in the Autumn in our workshop.