Santa Cruz California’s Homeless Garden Project seeks to combine community agriculture with economic and social reform. In May, 1990, a Santa Cruz County non-profit, the Citizen’s Committee for the Homeless, started the Homeless garden Project, seeking to help both the recently homeless and those who were in danger of becoming homeless by building job skills and reconnecting people to their local community. Over the last 20 years, the Project has grown from a single, small organic farm to a multi-acre local commitment.
The Project seeks to combine both agricultural reform and social reform. The primary goal of the Project is to care for the homeless. The Project gives homeless volunteers four hot meals a week and it focused on job training and developing marketable skills among the homeless to help them find work. In addition, the Project seeks to give volunteers farming skills and helps teach them economic and environmental sustainability.
The Project mirrors many of the necessary agricultural reforms that American farmers are considering to guarantee a sustainable future. Organic farming, which the Homeless Garden Project relies on, will help create an economically and environmentally sustainable future for farmers. The emphasis on environmental responsibility and local, organic farming can be seen reflected in several government agencies and programs, ranging from the USDA’s emphasis on green energy to First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaigns to fight obesity with local food. In addition, the emphasis on communication between consumers and producers is an important step that many farmers are contemplating.
While the HGP remains a relatively small, local organization, some hope that it might spread beyond Santa Cruz County. The values of the HGP are vital to the future of American agriculture and will hopefully continue to be championed by agricultural leaders nationwide.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer