Organic Farm Houses Ex-Homeless Families

Permaculture Creates Sustainable Ecology

Homestead boasts an organic farm that is practicing permaculture and is also striving to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce and economic opportunity for a community of formerly homeless families.

Verde Garden is unique in the United States, according to Cristina Gonzalez, a University of Miami graduate who is working with the farm through AmeriCorps. The 22-acre farm is part of an affordable housing community built to house 145 formerly homeless families. And all of the housing is LEED certified. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification system.

The community includes space for families to maintain garden plots of their own and some of the produce will be available to families who want to set up cottage industries by making jellies or other preserves for resale, Gonzalez explained.

The farm’s hub has the goal of streamlining the process restaurants and grocers around the county use to get the limited organic produce being harvested in South Miami-Dade County. The hub will reduce the fossil fuels used to transport organic produce while also lowering the transportation costs.

Meanwhile, the farm is going one step beyond organic farming, using permaculture to create a sustainable ecology, using companion planting, cover crops and shade trees to improve the soil and increase yields without the need for chemical fertilizers.

“We’re growing soil,” explained Jason Long. “We’re doing this on nature’s terms.”

The farm has included farmworkers in its planning.

Verde Garden is partially funded with a grant from the USDA and sits on land owned by Miami-Dade County. The land was obtained when the federal government decommissioned Homestead Air Force Base. But the farmers still hear a lot of fighter jets overhead from Homestead Air Reserve Base.

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13 responses to “Organic Farm Houses Ex-Homeless Families”

  1. Britishwannabe says:

    I think this is a wonderful idea and a very innovative project. We get to collaborate with the environment and work towards sustainability while reaching out to those who need help and resources and provide them with opportunities. One step in the right direction towards a better future.

  2. Yaelherman says:

    It’s good to hear that Verde Garden is not only doing good to the environment but also good to the community by employing and housing homeless families, while at the same time providing them with work. I’ve never heard about something like this before, but farms around the country should follow Verde Garden’s example and help people who are going through hard times in this tough economy by also helping the environment.

  3. Com Student 116 says:

    I really like this article. I’ve never heard of a project that aims to conserve the environment and at the same time provide assistance for the homeless. I always felt there was conflicting interest where people had to choose one cause or the other. Verde Garden is proving that you can do both.

  4. Marchesa says:

    I think the ideas promoted by the Verde Garden are both innovative and unique! This is such an inspiring project that definitely goes beyond just talking beyond making a changes; it promotes actual action. By promoting locally grown food for use by both community members and restaurants (limited organic produce is better than nothing), we can help the US gets off of its dependence on processed and genetically modified substances (and possibly combat the obesity epidemic that is enveloping our nation). The fact that the project also helps the homeless, is only an additional benefit!

  5. Ashley McBride says:

    This is an inspiring article that shows how a small community can make a huge impact. Not only is Verde Garden working to improve the environment by going green, it is providing a home for those without one while at the same time these people can make money and work towards something. A very unique idea that can and should be replicated across the United States.

  6. Levy says:

    I love that there are two causes for this farm house. Helping the homeless as well as improving the soil instead of torturing it is incredible. This is a great new project.

  7. Jackie Salo says:

    It is awesome that Verde Garden is not only helping the environment but the community as well. It continues to promote good environmental habits while giving the homeless opportunities. This should be an example to other communities.

  8. Jason Long says:

    Great write up on Verde Gardens!
    For more details on the farm, goto

  9. Bradorisa says:

    The fact that we’ve managed to find a combined solution for two very different social problems is a wonderful thing. Usually finding housing for homeless families and organic farming don’t go hand in hand. This project just goes to show what can be accomplished when people really start to think creatively and try to find innovative solutions. People often try and dismiss environmental issues by saying we have more important things to worry about.Yet, Verde Garden proves that it doesn’t have to be the environment or helping impoverished individuals; you can pay attention to both problems.

  10. Yaelherman says:

    It’s good to hear that Verde Garden is not only doing good to the environment, but also good to the community by employing and housing homeless families. I’ve never heard about something like this before, but farms around the country should follow Verde Garden’s example and help people who are going through hard times in this tough economy while also contributing to the environment.

  11. Imperialshawn824 says:

    They need Verde Gardens all over the nation! Not only does this help out formerly homeless families, but this also improves soil without using chemical fertilizers and reduces fossil fuels used in transporting the produce all over.

  12. lmorcate says:

    This is one of the most impacting articles i’ve read on the Miami Planet. This is such a pro-active idea that will not only serve to expand permaculture and create a sustainable ecology, but at the same time will provide economic opportunities for those in need. I whole-heartedly support Verde Garden’s efforts, and hope that if they are successful, other communities can learn from this concept and promote environmentally conscious solutions to everyday obstacles.

  13. EnvMI says:

    Wonderful ideas blossoming into reality like this really inspires me. Sometimes the best solution to an problem is a very simple one: getting back to nature for soil, canning like our grandparents did. We need to treat the earth with more care than what we are doing now. I’m very happy that Verde Garden will not only help the homeless in Florida, but also her soil and environment.