The Goodwill Garden’s goal is to support marginalized people in gaining access to fresh local organic produce. The garden is at 249 10th St., Marina on 1.5 acres with 80 raised beds. Surrounded by native and drought-tolerant landscaping, it includes composting systems, a fog catcher, and a hügelculture display.
The program is a unique partnership led by Everyone’s Harvest involving five other nonprofits: 1) Goodwill of the Central Coast runs a culinary job-training program for individuals with barriers to employment; 2) Hope Services assists adults with developmental disabilities; 3) Marina Tree and Garden Club works with local resident members; 4) Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula Wellness Center works with staff; and 5) Veterans Transition Center helps veterans who must deal with mental health and physical disabilities, and the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
Annually, over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce is grown and consumed by over 50 clients served by the five nonprofit partners. The partners’ collective investment of time to run this productive garden is valued at $50,000 per year. The benefits show in the California Health Report of 2013, where Bill Taylor, Goodwill chef instructor, says, “I was surprised how excited the students got. It puts you in touch with something primeval,” and Hope Services staff member Carolyn Overholt shares that, “the garden has been a haven of serenity, friendship, and shared knowledge.”
This work is important because not only is the garden a place for the five partners’ clients to grow healthy food, it is a central hub for them to participate together in horticultural therapy. This therapy is shown to improve cognitive abilities, task initiation, language, and socialization skills. It also plays a unique role in building physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing as well as encouraging people to work and become independent. Garden therapy has proved especially beneficial to adults with developmental disabilities and veterans addressing war trauma. A bonus lies in the nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables that are nurtured, produced, and enjoyed by so many marginalized residents because of the Goodwill Garden Program.