History of the Project
In May of 1990, the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, a Santa Cruz County non-profit, began a new project by opening the gates of an organic garden on Pelton Avenue. The Homeless Garden Project would provide job-training and meaningful work in a therapeutic environment.
The Project began as a place to provide sanctuary, refuge and meaningful work within the healing environment of the organic farm.
1990 Homeless Garden Project opens first organic garden on Pelton Avenue as a program of Citizens Committee for the Homeless
1991 Project begins selling produce to local restaurants and Farmer’s Markets
1992 HGP begins and runs first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Santa Cruz county
1994 With the help of Barry Swenson Builder, the Project expanded to include a second garden on a 1.5 acre parcel at Natural Bridges Farm
1994 Women’s Organic Flower Enterprise (WOFE) is established, providing additional work opportunities for homeless women through creating dried flower and herb wreaths from the organic gardens; a WOFE garden is established across the street from HGP's workshop on land loaned by Mike Williams.
1998 Project leaves Pelton Avenue garden to make way for sale of city property and housing development and consolidates at Natural Bridges Farm
1998 Homeless Garden Project established as an independent non-profit organization
1998 First WOFE holiday store opened
2002 Project opens year-round retail store and administrative offices at 30 West Cliff Drive
2010 Homeless Garden Project celebrates 20th anniversary
In 1998, the City of Santa Cruz adopted a Master Plan for a 614-acre open space greenbelt at Pogonip which would include a nine-acre permanent site for the Homeless Garden Project. Necessary management, operation and site plans have begun and once key issues are resolved -- such as determining a source of water -- a capital campaign to fund the gardens and buildings will begin.