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This California Farm Helps the Homeless Get off the Streets

At Homeless Garden Project, seeds are planted and lives are transformed.

Michael Laffoon has a vivid memory of the day he decided to piece his life back together. “I literally woke up in my van and I thought ‘I can’t do this anymore because I’m going to die,’” he says. “It was just an overwhelming feeling that I had come to the end of a chapter.”

For eight years, the Santa Cruz, California resident grappled with a serious crystal meth addiction and drifted in and out of homelessness. It was a frustrating, impossible lifestyle. In 2007, Laffoon learned about Homeless Garden Project at a kitchen where he was volunteering. The not-for-profit aims to lift people living on the streets of Santa Cruz out of homelessness through farming. The end goal is that they will leave the farm with stable housing and a full-time job.

After a year and a half of being in the program, Laffoon was able to secure employment and stable housing. He later obtained a degree in horticulture.“It was the first step back into normal society—the first open door,” he says.