Homeless Trust Partnership Seeks Support From Restaurants, Patrons

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Verde Gardens employees were invited to a dinner at Tuyo earlier this month.
When the Homeless Trust was given $50 million from Miami-Dade county to build affordable housing, the 27-member board scoured the nation to find the best ways similar organizations had spent their money. They had been effective over a 20-year history, having reduced the number of homeless in Miami-Dade county from 10,000 in 1992 to just about 870 today. But just buying land and building houses on it wasn't addressing the root cause.

"You have to give people a sense of self-worth that could only be obtained through gainful employment," said Trust chairman Ron Book. "The way we chose to do that has never been done before."

Book and the Trust traveled to California, where folks built a farm and microenterprise with effective results. In Colorado, homeless advocates combined a housing program with a job placement program, with one dependent and beneficial to the other. The Trust decided that a plot in Homestead would be the perfect place to conjoin the efforts in Colorado and California.

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The MNetwork
The result was a 22-acre farm in Homestead called Verde Gardens where 550 formerly homeless residents of a nearby housing development have the opportunity to work on the farm. The 145 residential units are the result of a joint venture between the Homeless Trust and Carrfour Supportive Housing and are only offered to the formerly homeless or households where at least one person has a disability.The farm is operated by Earth Learning, a nonprofit entity that is dedicated to inspiring life-sustaining culture in South Florida. Earth Learning trains the workers and maintains working conditions on the farm.

Miami-Dade Culinary Institute's Tuyo Restaurant and executive chef Norman Van Aken recently made headlines by becoming the first fine dining establishment ever to partner with such a program.

Location Info

Map

The Farm at Verde Gardens

12690 SW 280th St., Homestead, FL

Category: General


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