Homeless Given New Life after Working on a 22-Acre Organic Farm
Categories: On The Farm
Farming is not only an awesome thing to do, but if you use it to teach and help others in the process it becomes a healing opportunity and a way to make a living and inspire.
Tackling homelessness, joblessness, and food insecurity all at once can seem like a daunting task, but Verde Farms in Miami, Florida is managing to do all three. The community farm has one saying: “For people, not for profit,” and they stay true to that credo.
All money spent at the Verde Community Farmers Market and restaurant go toward hiring and training at-risk community members to work on the farm and in the market, and to build infrastructure to support the program. Special consideration is given to Carrfour Supportive Housing’s Verde Gardens community.
When people purchase organically-grown fruit and vegetables, fresh-squeezed organic juices, edible organic plants, and other items, they are helping to support a sustainable community which was erected on an old military base that was shattered to ruins during Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
The program has given over 10,000 people new life, and supports more than 145 families with organic farming and an organic farmer’s market, kitchen, and café, with year-round classes that teach people how to farm organically and sustainably.
Verde Community members, many of whom have little or no prior work experience, learn enough through working there to prepare them for “real-world” jobs outside of the Verde community.
Resident, Alma Santos says of the farm, “It has forever changed our lives and made it possible to help others.” She and her fourteen-year-old son live and work there.
Stephanie Berman, president and CEO of Carrfour Supportive Housing, the nonprofit set up by the Chamber more than 20 years ago to develop and manage communities for low income people in South Florida, said:
“To see our vision for Verde Gardens finally coming to life is very exciting. We have seen the farm encourage self-sufficiency and togetherness among residents for two years now and hope that the restaurant will do the same.”
The Verde Gardens farmer’s market also, like many farmers markets nationwide, allows food stamp customers (SNAP-eligible) to receive up to $40 worth of fresh produce for just $20. That’s a one-two-three punch to homelessness, joblessness, and food insecurity for everyone involved.