Homeless Garden Project Playlist: Serenity, Resilience & Empowerment

Mike started out at the Homeless Garden Project as a trainee and, eight years later, he's still working at the farm as an employee

Mike started out at the Homeless Garden Project as a trainee and, eight years later, he’s still working at the farm as an employee: he didn’t have a song for our playlist because he now prefers bird songs and other music of nature

Impressive work happens every day at the peaceful, beautiful Homeless Garden Project (HGP) in Santa Cruz, a transitional program for training and empowering local residents who want to shift from the insecurity of homelessness to a safer and more empowered situation off the streets. All the trainees, volunteers, and managers we spoke with in April 2016 embodied the healing dynamic of the organic garden. This installment of our “X Marks the Spot with Central Coast Foodie” radio show was originally broadcast in May 2016 on 97.3 The Rock out of Morro Bay, California.

If you would like to visit the garden to learn more and work side-by-side with people who can open minds about our homeless neighbors and fellow Americans, contact Darrie Ganzhorn, CEO of the HGP for more information about visiting and volunteering at the garden. Consider making a donation to support their good work as they expand their efforts to cultivate serenity, freedom, and social power through working the garden.

Points of Learning

  • When you’re homeless, you must consider the weight of everything you buy and acquire: for example, a 1 pound bag of sugar to sweeten your tea is too heavy to lug about when you don’t have kitchen cabinets
  • Not everyone has the internet in their pocket to research a factoid or find a song
  • Everyone was so happy and peaceful, especially those who worked in the chamomile and lavender patches: these medicinal plants can help to calm trainees tasked with processing the flowers and make it easier to overcome emotional rough patches
  • Many US veterans in financial straits are living in the mountains above Santa Cruz: we need to do more to help these individuals as our collective moral imperative
  • “People are the program” —Richard
  • “The hope is here and it is living” —Laurie
speckled lettuce on the HGP farm
William works at the Farm Stand at Santa Cruz's Homeless Garden Project
HGP trainees took the initiative to create this farm stand that sells flowers and produce grown on the farm
Hannah (in green) finds that the garden has helped her discover her self reliance
Tom and Cindy, planting zinnias for flower wreaths and bouquets
Andrea shows off the collection of plants she will install in the garden rows the HGP lets her use for her own garden
Michael volunteers two days a week to make lunch using ingredients grown in the rows and fields just a few feet away: he calls it "farm-to-mouth"
Poet Laurie with the ducks
Richard graduated on the day we visited after successful completion of the 12-month transitional program
Everyone at the Homeless Garden Project helped produce this healthy meal: thank you

Show Notes

When Time Finally Comes for You

by Poet Laurie

Did you live your life?
Was your reality true?
Was air, food, and love what you sought after most?
Did you listen to others; did you struggle or coast?
Were you patient and true; were you honest and kind?
Did you return a lost wallet that you happened to find?
Did you stop for a stranger and offer your help?
Did you smile even if a folding hand you were dealt?
Were you embraced by the Garden when you had nothing left?
Cared for and nourished, and your reset button pressed?
Were you synchronized with metaphors, supernatural, spiritual, unseen?
Did you remove old beliefs like weeds pretending to be beans?
Were you encouraged, “You can do it.”
Were you resilient and strong?
Did you saturate in Joy’s Breath – a place to be … and belong?
Was your experience meaningful and the homeless survive?
Did you practice your gratitude and recognize you’re alive?
Were you appreciated and welcomed, unjudged and assisted to bring forth the You that your fear had resisted?
Was your path full of ruts and obstacles?
Did life exhaust you to your knees?
Did you rejuvenate your essence with a drop of fresh honey from our bees?
Did you tend to the earth, or sit caged on a shelf?
Did you watch the sunset and blush at itself?
Did the spirit inside you awake and enlighten?
Did you appreciate this precious time to grow, bloom, and ripen?
Did you learn to love yourself?
Did a garden grow in You?
I ask you again, “Was your reality true?”

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