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 thelevel 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 with any leads.)