The “Giving Garden” – a Vocational Services Partnership of MCHC and Noyo Food Forest, funded by Community Development Block Grant

 

The Giving Garden operates at three of the Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center (MCHC) locations: Transitional Housing, Hospitality House and Hospitality Center. The decision was made to locate at MCHC because after the grant ends, the Giving Garden itself as a location will not be lost, as would have been the case with a rental lot. In addition, the gardens can continue to benefit participants at MCHC locations and the rent in the budget to be reallocated towards extra training and extra garden materials, again maximizing the benefits of the grant funding.

 

The Giving Garden provides horticultural classes (which Noyo Food Forest has just begun to teach now that spring has arrived) and vocational classes. A full binder of the vocational class materials is maintained on site. Before Noyo Food Forest started, work was done to prepare the locations and to build the raised beds that were recommended by Noyo Food Forest. MCHC vocational classes are taught by the MCHC Vocational Services Coordinator, who has previous experience as a Job Coach and through running her own business in the private sector.

 

The CDBG total budget for thirty months is around $186,000 = an average of $6,200 per month. Expenditure from August 2015 – April 2016 was $46,421.88 (averaging $5,157.99).

 

Budget:

-          Garden installation: $7,300

-          Garden maintenance: $7,750

-          Noyo Food Forest staff: $48,647

-          MCHC staff: $63,000

-          Office supplies and marketing: $5,500

-          Client stipends: $23,400

-          Rent: $30,000 (now that rent is not needed on an external location, there is $30,000 more to spend on plants, training, supplies etc.).

 

Horticultural Progress

 

The Giving Garden is a three-site project. The first site developed was at the Hospitality Center at 101 N. Franklin Street. Five raised beds for vegetables were built. A plan was developed to grow the vegetables most usable in the feeding program at Hospitality House—these included lettuce and other greens, broccoli, and carrots. Garlic was planted during the winter to take advantage of the extensive garden space devoted to roses. “Roses love garlic” is an accepted companion planting strategy and over 10 pounds of garlic was grown, confirming this opportunity. Garlic will again be planted in the fall, and in greater quantities. We added sugar snap peas to the garden in a row of five containers against the north wall, and these have recently begun producing. We will be adding three more containers of peas at the next session. The beds at this location have been producing food since May. Total food produced to date is 150.75 pounds. Of this 140.25 pounds went to the Hospitality House kitchen and 10.5 went to the Food Bank. The beds are now in their second planting and a succession-planting plan is in place with the intent to keep these beds producing on a continuing basis.

Once harvesting food was successfully underway from the Center location, development began at the Hospitality House site at 237 N McPherson Street. Five raised beds were already in place there but most were devoted to ornamental plants. The first step was to remove the ornamental plants in order to convert the beds to food production. Some ornamentals were moved to in-ground ornamental beds at the same site; others were repotted for future sale. The final bed, which was filled with iris, was recently cleared and planted with green. All the beds are now planted with greens, broccoli, squash, etc. There is less sun at this site than the Center. Some heat-loving plants such as basil were tried, but they have not thrived. Also planted in the in-ground beds are a full array of perennial culinary herbs including rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and mint. A small amount of lettuce has been harvested from here, and the culinary herbs are already being used in the kitchen. Ongoing, lettuce and salad greens will be kept going at this site, which are appropriate to the low sun, and will make salad ingredients conveniently available to the kitchen.

 

The third site will be developed next. At the Transitional Housing site at Harrison Street, there will be raised beds and a small 8’x10’ greenhouse will be installed to on-set plants and teach propagation.

 

Route to Employment

 

At 6/30/16, Eleven people left the Giving Garden program into employment, and five of them are still employed.

 

 

Location

Job

Outcome

Hotel

Front desk

Still employed

Fast food restaurant

Food preparation

Still employed

Hotel

Housekeeping

Still employed

Nonprofit

Care provider

Still employed

Fishing

Fisherman

Still employed

Out of county employer

Unknown

Still employed

Fast food restaurant

Food preparation

Quit – heavily pregnant

Supermarket

Unknown

Quit

Nonprofit

Janitor

Quit

Hotel

Housekeeping

Terminated

Convenience store

Shelf stocking

Hospitalized

 

The program is a soft-skills, basic-level vocational program for people with many additional needs related to homelessness and mental illness, rather than a direct job re-entry program, so it is extra exciting when participants get full time employment! Participants have told the MCHC Vocational Services Coordinator, that they used techniques and skills that were learned in Giving Garden Vocational Training classes, at their interviews, and in that way helped their own success.

 

Vocational Classes

 

The Giving Garden is primarily a vocational program, with the gardening element being a vehicle for work experience. Therefore, the vocational classes are a vital and substantial part of the program. Here are the classes taught between 7/1/15 – 6/30/16.

 

GIVING GARDEN VOCATIONAL CLASSES

2015

Topic

Date

August

Vocational Profile

8/17/15

August

Communication

8/19/15

August

Enthusiasm & Attitude

8/24/15

August

Enthusiasm & Attitude/Teamwork

8/26/15

August

Food Safety

8/31/15

September

Professionalism

9/3/15

September

Professionalism/ Time Management

9/9/15

September

Resume Building

9/14/15

September

Job Applications/Resume Building

9/16/15

September

Resume Writing/Interviewing

9/21/15

September

California Small Farm Food Safety

9/23/15

September

Solving Problems and Critical Thinking

9/28/15

October

Vocational Profile

10/28/15; 11/16/15

November

Communication

11/9/15; 11/18/15

November

Enthusiasm and Attitude

11/23/15

November

Enthusiasm and Attitude/Teamwork

11/25/15

November

Professionalism

11/30/15

December

Time Management

12/2/15

December

Filling Out Job Application

12/9/15

December

Resume Building

12/15/15

December

Job Interview

12/16/16

December

Job Interview/Dress for Success

12/21/16

December

Solving Problems and Critical Thinking

12/23/16

2016

 

 

January

Low attendance – one client – classes canceled

 

February

Beds and ground work preparation

 

March

Beds and ground work preparation

 

March

Vocational Profile

3/28/16

April

Communication

4/11/16

April

Enthusiasm and Attitude

4/13/16

April

Teamwork

4/18/16

April

Solving Problems and Critical Thinking

4/20/16

April

Professionalism/ Time Management

4/27/16

May

Filling Out Job Application

5/2/16

May

Resume Building

5/4/16

May

Job Interview

5/9/16

May

Networking

5/11/16

May

CA Small Farm Safety

5/23/16

 

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