Off Campus Highlight: Homeless Garden Project/Gift Shop

Dining halls just not good enough tonight? Looking for something to do to get away from campus? No idea on where to get a specific thing? Completely lost the minute you get off at the Metro Station or just looking for a recommendation? Have no fear OCH is here!

This time, rather than focusing on just a store or cafe or shop, we'll be focusing on something different: the Homeless Garden Project and their gift shop. The Homeless Garden Project is non-profit that provides job training and transitional employment to homeless people as an opportunity to rebuild and develop basic life ad work skills to gain employment and re-enter and give back to the local community. Participants work at a community supported organic garden and other related enterprises to learn to grow flowers and produce, which are then sold to the public. Their goal is a thriving and inclusive community, workforce, and local food system for Santa Cruz.

For more information visit: http://dignityadvocate.wordpress.com/the-growing-need-for-green-work/

The Homeless Garden Project began in May 1990 as a place to provide sanctuary, refuge, and meaningful work within the environment of the organic farm. It's first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in the Santa Cruz County in 1992, which is an alternate food distribution option where customers sign up to receive a weekly selection of produce available fresh from the farm they contract with that week (Fun fact, our campus also has a garden that has a CSA program!). In 1994 the Women's Organic Flower Enterprise (WOFE) was established, providing additional work opportunities for homeless women (and now men) through creating dried flower and herb wreaths from the organic gardens.

The gift shop downtown sells unique, local, organic, and handmade gifts from bath and body products to candles to food products (their strawberry jam was delicious!). These products are created in the training program from herbs and flowers grown at their farm.

They also sell items created by local artisans from jewelry to bird houses to bags. There are also descriptions of the artisans and their art that lets visitors learn more about the artisan and what their art means to them.

On the first Friday of every month from 5:30-8PM there are events happening in the store from demos to workshops to live music! To learn more about what's going on you can friend them on face book or check out their website to learn more about what's going on.

Price Range: The prices are reasonable for a gift shop, ranging from 5-30 dollars. All proceeds go to the Homeless Garden Project though, so if you're looking for a high quality, not overpriced gift, I recommend the gift shop!

Hours:

Friday and Saturday, 12:00p to 7:00p

Sunday 12:00p to 6:00p

Directions

From getting off the bus from campus, go to Pacific Avenue, turn right then keep going down until you see an alley way. There you will see a display for the Homeless Garden Project. Once you walk into the alley way, your destination will be on the right!