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Indybay Feature

Homeless Garden Project Hosts Farmfest 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Event Type:
Darrie Ganzhorn
Location Details:
Homeless Garden Project Farm on Shaffer Road behind Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz

Homeless Garden Project invites you to Farmfest 2014, this Sunday from 11am to 4pm at the Homeless Garden Project Farm on Shaffer Road behind Natural Bridges State Park. There will be live music, kids activities, a beer garden, and cooking demonstrations.

About this time every year, Homeless Garden Project (HGP) holds their annual Farmfest celebration featuring the down-home goodness associated with the 3.5 acre organic farm.

This year, on Sunday May 18, from 11am - 4pm, is no exception, and will highlight the tangible benefits of community involvement at HGP to encourage those taking a radical new direction in their lives.

“Many people who are homeless and come to participate in our programs tell me that the community at the farm makes a difference in their outlook on the world and in building self-confidence and self esteem,” says Darrie Ganzhorn, HGP Executive Director. “Farmfest is an invitation to the wider community to join in.”

This free event will feature activities for children—games, face painting, sensory walks on the farm—and live music from Black Eyed Susies, Michael Martyn and Good Medicine, Michael Curry, and Mystic Truebudoors. There will also be a ‘beer garden’ selling brews from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Company, along with food and other refreshments.

But the real draw is the cooking demos by local chef volunteers. One of those chefs is Oai Phan, who will prepare an Asian dumpling with kale. Mr. Phan moved to Santa Cruz from Vietnam with his family about 30 years ago, and has since retired from working in real estate. He started volunteering with HGP as a member of the Zen Center, which makes soup and rice for the farm every Friday. He’s been coming almost weekly for about five years ever since, and is extremely popular with the staff and volunteers for his Vietnamese creations.

“Food always brings people closer and nothing makes me happier than to see a big smile on peoples’ faces when they eat my ‘rabbit food,’” says Phan, with a hearty laugh.

In addition to the job training and transitional employment programs HGP offers, they also provide volunteer and educational opportunities to more than 1500 people each year.

Founded in 1990, HGP is based on a 3.5-acre organic farm on the west side of Santa Cruz. The nonprofit provides job training and transitional employment to people who are homeless or experiencing a high risk of homelessness.

Every year HGP sells produce grown on the farm through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Members pre-pay for their produce, and pick it up on the farm each week for 23 weeks.

“A beautiful part of the CSA model is that we have a relationship through the entire harvest season with people who will be eating the food we grow at Natural Bridges Farm,” says Darrie. “Equally beautiful, are the relationships that our CSA members create with the farmers at Homeless Garden Project and with the farm itself.”

Another local volunteer chef Mike Reardon, a recent graduate from Bauman College, will be showcasing his recipes at Farmfest.

“People should come to my cooking demonstration, because I'll be cooking some of that bounty of the farm.” says Reardon, “We'll be showing everyone how the great food at the farm can be turned into great dishes in their homes.”

Mr. Phan says folks don't have to come to his cooking demo, but if you do you might “learn how the East/West influence” in his cooking, can “make vegetables more enjoyable.”

But the most important dish HGP, and Farmfest, are serving this year is a radical new way of life for those suffering from homelessness.

“HGP is special to me,” says Phan, “because I believe together we can help change peoples’ lives.”

For more information about Farmfest 2014, go to To find out more about HGP, visit, or contact Kate Pearl at 426-3609 extension 10, or katep [at]
Added to the calendar on Mon, May 12, 2014 11:09AM
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