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.
Sustainable Agriculture Institute Arms Returning Veterans with Tools to Become Farmers of the FutureDecember 1, 2016 | Bethany Knipp
Returning military often find themselves struggling to return to normality after serving overseas. Colin Archipley, co-owner of Archi’s Acres in Escondido, CA knows exactly how they feel. He served three tours of duty during the Iraq War that began in 2003. Between his second and third deployment, Colin, along with his wife Karen, bought an inefficiently run avocado farm. Besides starting their own very successful living basil hydroponics farm on the site, the empathetic couple created a sustainable agriculture training center called Archi’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (AISA) to help ease the transition of service members from military to civilian life. The courses offered at the institute are open to civilians as well as veterans giving everyone a way to serve their local community while building a sustainable business that will support their family.
The AISA learning center is based in Valley Center, California, near San Diego, and offers its students instruction in everything from sustainable agribusiness and farming production methods to business development and planning during a six-week course on founders’ Colin and Karen Archipley’s farmland.
Glenn and Paula Foore say their urban farming style uses common sense and basic practices.
“We’re wanting, and we are getting, back to where we came from,” Glenn Foore says, referring to decades past when he says more families picked fresh vegetables from their own gardens.
The couple owns and operates Springdale Farm within the city limits of Austin, Texas, and grow about 75 different types of vegetables — including tomatoes, peppers, asparagus, arugula, zucchini, broccoli. The Foores grow the vegetables all 52 weeks of the year on just under five acres of land in the central Texas climate.
They started Springdale Farm in 2009, but the Foores bought the land where the farm sits in 1992 through an economic development program in east Austin. The land served as the site of their landscaping business as a part of the city’s program, which incentivized small businesses to come to east Austin through low-interest loans as long as the companies employed eastside workers.
The Hawaiian Islands possess ideal climatic conditions to support year-round agriculture from consistently temperate weather to ample rainfall and abundant sunlight. Despite these favorable conditions, the islands rely on imports from the mainland and elsewhere for nearly 90 percent of the food that residents consume.
Last month, at the ICUN World Conservation Conference in Honolulu, Governor David Ige announced his pledge to double local food production by the year 2030. To help insure the success of this pledge, the Ulupono Initiative, a Hawaii-focused impact investing firm, has stepped into the fray to provide financial and advisory support to for-profit, non-profit and social ventures seeking to increase food security and production on the islands.
“We are pleased to hear about the governor’s announcement, and want to make it happen through investment means,” says Murray Clay, Managing Partner at Ulupono Initiative. “We are an impact investing firm, with one of the key areas of focus being local food production.”
It’s one thing to manage a farm and all the challenges that it brings.
It’s another business challenge altogether to focus heavily on community involvement for your farm with special events, collaborations with area partners, farm tours, and brand promotion.
Yet Geraldson Community Farm, a certified organic farm in Bradenton, Florida has risen to both tasks with some adjustments along the way, says farm manager Christa Leonard.
The land itself where Geraldson is located has been agriculture-focused for decades, and the original owners sold the land to Manatee County with the caveat that it had to be used for agriculture. An arrangement was made with Florida West Coast Resource Conservation & Development, which funded the farm originally when it began in 2007. Leonard, a former behavioral therapist, got started with the farm as a volunteer and loved it so much, she stayed on.