Urban farm is providing life skills to the homeless

A row of leafy greens in the GREEN TEAM farm. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
A row of leafy greens in the GREEN TEAM farm. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot good news coming from the west side of downtown Salt Lake.  The city’s homelessness epidemic and growing quality of life issues typically dominate the narrative surrounding the Rio Grande neighborhood.

But several blocks north of the Road Home Shelter, at 625 W 100 S, a program is underway that is teaching homeless women life skills while providing food for low-income children.  On Wednesday morning, leaders from the GREEN TEAM, a collaboration between the Downtown Alliance, Wasatch Community Gardens, Advantage Services and Salt Lake City, officially dedicated the program called the GREEN TEAM Farm project.

“More than just a place to get your hands dirty in the garden, the Green Team will bring much-needed mentorship and job training to these women,” wrote councilmember Derek Kitchen in social media post.

The project aims to provide an active use to a neglected urban area while providing garden-based job training to a group of eight women experiencing homelessness.  Participants commit to a 10-month training program where they learn job and life skills including: organic gardening, vegetable production and small farm management.  The produce from the farm goes to low-income children in the Salt Lake Valley through the Head Start program.

The first group of participants started in August.  The group will harvest until November.  Current crops are mostly cool weather greens and vegetables.

“People don’t realize how much you can still grow when the weather is cool,” said James Loomis, the GREEN TEAM Farm manager.

The farm project is the sister program to the Clean Team, a group of homeless and formerly homeless individuals that clean up the Rio Grande neighborhood.  As with the GREEN TEAM farm, the Clean Team is the result of a collaboration with the city, Downtown Alliance and Advantage Services.

City and County officials are in the site selection process for two new emergency shelters proposed for Salt Lake City.  The new shelters, proposed at 250 beds each, are intended to reduce the stress on the Road Home Shelter that is often overcrowded and encourages loitering on 500 West.   City Council members are requesting more shelters with fewer beds per shelter, but the final decision will be made by the Mayor’s office.

In addition to the new shelters, Salt Lake County officials plan to implement preventative strategies intended to reduce the need for emergency shelter beds.

“The greatest challenge we have is to provide shelter and safety while simultaneously treating the root causes of homelessness,” said Salt Lake City Mayor, Jackie Biskupski.

The GREEN TEAM farm is temporarily powered by solar panels.
The GREEN TEAM farm is temporarily powered by solar panels.

Share Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin


Related Stories​

Days after a neighborhood Facebook group reposted a real estate listing for 411 and 419 East 100 South as “Tear down dwellings that are...
Just as we learn the former Road Home shelter site is turning over to mostly market-rate housing, emails circulating in the Downtown business community...
A seven-story, 210-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail space will be built on the site of a former Downtown homeless shelter that had capacity...
Salt Lake City’s Downtown has long since entered a residential building boom, and we now know details about the next project that will add...
The Downtown Alliance hosted a webinar panel on outdoor dining during COVID this week, and Salt Lake City presented its first design guidelines for...
After over 12 years of plans, studies, and now political challenges, a 7-day-a-week, year-round Downtown public market may be getting traction among key players...