Posts By Trish Popovitch
Talking about the homeless population of America is popular these days. And yet fixing the situation seems, to many, an impossibly overwhelming task. Others are proving it’s not. The Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project (HGP) uses sustainable agriculture as the springboard to a safer, productive and more hopeful life for many. The agriculture and gardening training provided to the homeless of Santa Cruz County through the project has culminated in both jobs and permanent housing for its trainees.
“We find people that express much greater degrees of well being after they are with us for a year, whether it’s in their diet, in their sense of self, in their ability to set goals and achieve them, in how connected they feel to the community,” says Darrie Ganzhorn Executive Director of the Homeless Garden Project.
Established in 1990, the HGP was the brainchild of Paul Lee, a member of the Citizens Committee on Homelessness. Lee began spending nights along with other board members in the homeless shelter.
Pastor Matt Powell, the owner of Casper, Wyo.-based Skyline Gardens. Photo courtesy of Skyline Gardens.
Matt Powell opens the door to his hydroponic lettuce farm, housed in a used refrigerated storage container on the corner of his Casper, Wyoming property, and the Marriage of Figaro fills the air.
“My little Mp3 there is loaded up with Mozart and Bach. The study I heard said they tested growing plants in three sound proof environments. They had classical in one, death metal in another and silence in a third. Classical did the best, death metal did the second best,” laughs Powell explaining how his fresh hyperlocal greens are grown with the aid of some classic tunes as they stay cool in their farm-in-a-box environment.
When PhD graduate Noah Wilson-Rich looked around for a way to raise capital for bee health research, he stumbled upon the idea of starting a beehive installation company. Before long, The Best Bees Company, founded in 2010, was delivering, installing and maintaining beehives across New England before branching out into several major cities including Washington D.C., Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles. With a focus on creating a healthier bee population and preventative messages to combat multiple stress disorder, Wilson-Rich and his nationwide team of trained beekeepers are collecting regional bee data, disrupting traditional patterns of honeybee home choice and encouraging the restoration of America’s dwindling pollinator habitat.
“Everything we do is in Boston, it’s like our experimental area; then we scale that across the different sites,” says Wilson-Rich, founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Boston-based The Best Bees Company. Custom built hives, installation and monthly maintenance as well as the bees necessary to make the whole thing work runs
“North Minneapolis is going green
Give us a call and learn what we mean
Where once lay urban blight
Now sits luscious garden sites
Gardens without borders
Classrooms without walls
Architects of our own destinies
Access to food justice for all.”
– Michael Chaney, Project Sweetie Pie
In a collaborative effort to revitalize the economy and the community of North Minneapolis, Project Sweetie Pie, an urban farming movement working to seed healthy changes in the community, has as one of its principal goals the mentorship of 500 local youth in growing food, obtaining practical sales and marketing skills, and becoming leaders. Launched in 2010 Project Sweetie Pie has made great strides towards this goal by aligning dozens of community partners with hundreds of urban youth to implement community garden and farm stand initiatives, which together have resulted in a framework for a more self-sufficient and self-aware urban community.
Located in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Rooftop Roots is a social enterprise taking the restrictive needs of a city littered with zoning laws and height restrictions as a challenge worth going vertical for. Designing, installing and maintaining custom gardens on rooftops, and creating community gardens across the city, Rooftop Roots is helping to build the conversation on how the nation’s capital utilizes its green spaces.
“We’re a nonprofit landscaping company but instead of mowing lawns we build gardens and maintain gardens for residential, commercial and community partners,” says Thomas Schneider, Executive Director of nonprofit Rooftop Roots.
After discovering their dream of office buildings with built up gardens on top was practically impossible to achieve with D.C.’s height restrictions, Rooftop Roots had to rethink its business plan. “We won’t only put gardens on roofs but we’ll put gardens in every nook and cranny and urban landscape we possibly can,” says Schneider.