In the soil of our urban farm, people find the tools they need to build a home in the world.




Our Vision & Values

Our Vision:

We envision a thriving and inclusive community, workforce and local food system.

We Value:

  • The capacity of all individuals for growth and renewal
  • The joy of growing and sharing healthy food
  • The well-being created by vibrant social and natural ecosystems

Our Story

In May of 1990, the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, a Santa Cruz County nonprofit, began a new project by opening the gates of an organic garden on Pelton Avenue.

The Homeless Garden Project would provide job training and meaningful work in a therapeutic environment. The Homeless Garden Project began as a place to provide sanctuary, refuge, and meaningful work within the healing space of the organic farm. Blossoming over time and furthering the project's benefits, the farm harvests have provided an opportunity to support our vision and community through our CSA program, farm stand, and crafts, which are sold at our local Santa Cruz stores and on-line.

We are genuinely humbled by the profound transformations our trainees make in our program, and the generous support provided by our community. Our purpose-driven nonprofit has proven to be a benefit to our neighbors in need, our community, and our environment. We couldn’t have done this without the continual generosity and support of our donors, volunteers, and CSA members. We are so grateful for each one of you.

1990

The Homeless Garden Project opens first organic garden on Pelton  Avenue as a program of Citizens Committee for the Homeless.

1991

The Homeless Garden Project begins selling produce to local restaurants and Farmer’s Markets.

1992

The Homeless Garden Project begins and runs first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program in Santa Cruz county.

1994

With the help of Barry Swenson Builder, The Homeless Garden Project expanded to include a second garden on a 1.5 acre parcel at Natural Bridges Farm.

1994

The Women’s Organic Flower Enterprise is established, providing additional work opportunities for women experiencing homelessness through creating dried flower and herb wreaths from the organic gardens; a Women’s Organic Flower Enterprise garden is established across the street from The Homeless Garden Project workshop on land loaned by Mike Williams.

1998

Project leaves Pelton Avenue garden to make way for sale of city property and housing development and consolidates at Natural Bridges Farm.

1998

First Women’s Organic Flower Enterprise holiday store opens.

1998

New permanent store locations open.

1998

Retailers sponsor The Homeless Garden Project and begin selling goods.

1998

City of Santa Cruz adopts a master plan for a 614-acre open space greenbelt at Pogonip which would include a nine-acre permanent site for The Homeless Garden Project. Necessary management, operation and site plans have begin and once key issues are resolved — such as determining a source of water — a capital campaign to fund the gardens and buildings begin.

2002

Project opens year-round retail store and administrative offices at 30 West Cliff Drive.

2010

The Homeless Garden Project celebrates 20th anniversary.

2010

The Homeless Garden Project celebrates 20th anniversary, reaching out to past participants and staff to reflect on our impact during the first 20 years, and our future.

2011

Featured in Breaking Through Concrete as one of twelve model community farms. The Homeless Garden Project’s chapter is entitled, The Farm as Therapy.

2011

Participation in Working to End Homelessness: National Community of Practice, an initiative of the National Transitional Jobs Network. The Homeless Garden Project is one of 22 national organizations in the community of practice assembled by the National Transitional Jobs Network to create a series of Best Practice Briefs for using transitional employment as a means to support individuals transitioning out of homelessness.

2012

The Homeless Garden Project starts social work program under supervision of Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Francis Krebs. Master of Social Work interns,  work one-on-one with trainees to promote their full participation in our program and  foster trainee progress toward unsubsidized employment as a key long-term goal related to a career plan.

2012

The Homeless Garden Project hosts Alice Waters for Fall Farm Supper and MIchael Pollan for a tour of our farm and programs.

2012

The Homeless Garden Project shifts from a three year program to a two year program.

2014

The Homeless Garden Project shifts from a two year program to a one year program, focusing on supporting trainee transitions into jobs and housing within a one year timeframe, and meeting our goal of serving more people.

2015

The Homeless Garden Project becomes certified by Points of Light, California Volunteers Service Enterprise and the Volunteer Center as a Service Enterprise; an organization that fundamentally leverages volunteers and their skills across all levels of the organization to successfully deliver on our social mission.

2015

The Homeless Garden Project celebrates our 25th anniversary with Deborah Madison and the Swanton Loop Challenge.

2016

Conducts Feasibility Study to develop our permanent site on Pogonip, part of the City of Santa Cruz’s Pogonip Master Plan since 1998.

2017

Signed 20 year lease with 3 5-year renewable terms with the City of Santa Cruz for 20 acres on Pogonip.

2020

The Homeless Garden Project is partnering with the city of Santa Cruz to build our permanent farm at Pogonip. Our campaign to Grow Our Impact is active.