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to our homeless brothers and sisters in need.

Posts tagged with Genesis Gardens

Genesis Gardens’ Chickens Have Come Home To Roost!

Posted on October 25, 2012 by Leave a comment

Genesis Gardens not only develops urban gardens, but we raise chickens that lay eggs for us to distribute on our Food Trucks! Meet one of our highly skilled program volunteers as she explains the care and maintenance of our chickens.

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Thanks to SumaGreen!

Posted on May 7, 2012 by Leave a comment

Mobile Loaves & Fishes would like to thank SumaGreen for a generous donation to our Genesis Gardens program this season. While the recent dry spell has been a challenge for all growers in the area, SumaGreen has enabled us to have some pretty impressive yields despite mother’s nature’s chief blessing: rain!

SumaGreen, like Mobile Loaves & Fishes, is a hospitality program; only whereas we’re housing our brothers and sisters from the street, they’re creating an amazing long term home for micro-organisms and nutrients that are wonder workers in the soil.

Thanks for the help SumaGreen, we’re fans already. Check out all their products at www.SumaGreen.com

– Steven Hebberd, Genesis Gardens

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Anthony: Absent No Longer, He’s Recovering His Personhood

Posted on March 2, 2012 by Leave a comment

“My name is Anthony. I was born, raised and educated in a little town in Louisiana called Natchitoches. My dad was a construction worker and a gambler. He and my mom separated when I was just a kid. My mom worked hard to make ends meet for my brothers and sisters. She even did men’s work sometimes.

After high school I enrolled in college. I attended Southern University then Louisiana State University in Shreveport. I majored in Electrical Engineering for a long time, but switched to Business Management just before my senior year.

I didn’t graduate. I found a good job, then lost it while I was still in school. About this time I found myself in a downspin. I wound up in prison after I did not finish a deferred probation that was unfairly adjudicated. I stayed for two years.

Later, while in prison for another charge, I finished my college degree–graduating from Tarleton College in Stephenville, Texas. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a program for inmates who want to take college courses. I took advantage of that.

Following prison the second time, I went to Waco, Texas. While there I learned I was not prepared to adequately cope with life. So I moved to Austin, hoping I’d do better there.

Last year I got hit by a car, injuring both legs, my right shoulder, my neck, and my back. I had some bleeding on the brain. The Medical Assistance Program (MAP) covered my medical expenses. I am still recovering, or trying to.

Being homeless is not easy. It’s a hard way to live. Things don’t get better; it’s a constant struggle just getting along from day to day, living on practically nothing except the kindness of strangers; trying to stay warm in the winter and cool in the hot summers; finding a place to sleep; just having enough to eat. So it’s understandable that homeless people are severely depressed and have just given up on life. I was one of them.

But recently, my fortunes changed. I met Steven Hebbard outside a coffee house near Riverside and Congress in Austin. Steven told me about Mobile Loaves and Fishes, explaining that I could make some money, if I wanted, by working with other volunteers—homeless and otherwise—in Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ Genesis Gardens.

I’ve been working in the Mobile Loaves and Fishes Genesis Gardens Program for awhile now. I like it. The food we grow helps feed Austin’s homeless people. I get paid a small stipend for my work, more for working double shifts. That’s money for food and other essentials. There’s no shelter for me yet, but Steven said there is a future project, a village for the homeless, that might offer that. Right now I stay at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), a homeless shelter in Austin.

I am trying to get out of being a homeless person. I want to show up, and not be absent any longer. It’s hard to do. But my work with Mobile Loaves and Fishes is getting me closer to where I’d like to be. Mobile Loaves and Fishes has been the ship for me, like the ship that carried George Washington to victory in the Revolutionary War.

While the work at Mobile Loaves and Fishes helps me feed my body, it also feeds my self esteem. It’s not just the physical work. I feel free to express my ideas for bettering the gardens I work in, making them even more productive food sources for Austin’s homeless population. That feeds my creativity. And in spite of being homeless for so long, I still care about people. At Mobile Loaves and Fishes I get to work with others in my same situation, talk with them. Maybe, over time, we’ll find ways to help one another. In the meantime, it’s mutually supportive to be working side by side with them to help others like ourselves.

I believe that Mobile Loaves and Fishes provides the synergy to help not only homeless people, but also the community at large.”

Click on the leaf heart to support Anthony and other folks transitioning from a life on the streets.

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The Garden is His Classroom, Love is the Lesson

Posted on December 16, 2011 by Leave a comment

Contributed by James Felkner

Have you met someone who makes you feel what you’re doing—at that moment—is very important?  Maybe a parent or teacher?  Do you recall how that may have inspired greater achievements, perhaps a more meaningful life?

Steven Hebbard, soil developer for Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, has that quality. His classroom is the land—in this case, urban growing centers known as Genesis Gardens, feeding Austin’s homeless.  He inspires the homeless who work there, helping them rebuild lost self esteem while learning new skills and earning some money. 

Steven, a Christian first—then a farmer, academic, and athlete—didn’t come to Genesis Gardens easily.  Born and raised in Bakersfield, CA, he earned a degree in Communications from Azusa State University, Azusa, Calif.  He also played football there.

Following college, he worked, traveled, and read, trying to determine what God wanted him to do.  Along the way, he earned an advanced degree in Communications and Cultural Studies, underpinned by religious courses.  He worked as a flight attendant, a security guard, a book seller at Barnes and Noble, a successful teacher, and a farmer.

Ultimately, Steven moved to Austin to get a Ph.D. in American Studies at University of Texas.  “But I felt God had brought me to Austin for something else,” he said.  Following two years of teaching at a Christian school, Steven worked at Boggy Creek Farm in Austin.  He started a network of backyard gardens—“rich and poor working in backyard gardens together,” Steven recalls.  These farming experiences laid the groundwork for Steven’s future.

So did his vision to use farming as an intersection to create a family of homeless and volunteers, the Christian community, the city, and the poor.

Learning about Multiple Loaves and Fishes, Steven approached Alan Graham with an idea for Community First! residents:  they would farm urban gardens, selling the food to create income as pay.  Alan liked the idea, and today the Genesis Gardens are one of Mobile Loaves and Fishes’ greatest success stories.  Produce from the gardens is processed at a commissary in Westlake, then distributed via trucks to homeless people here.

“Mobile Loaves and Fishes is one of the most innovative and collaborative organizations I’ve seen,” says Steven.  “We’re a bottom-up organization where the power to effect change in the lives of the homeless in Austin is firmly in the hands of our volunteers.  The essence of the MLF model is empowerment and hospitality.  Those who man our food trucks or volunteer in our Community First! Program might think they are the ones who practice hospitality, but inevitably they end up being the ones who are hosted with care and affection.

“MLF volunteers get welcomed into a home at once, larger than they believed possible, a home that also has a million doorways into its warm, intimate glow.  I get to work among this vast, home-making conspiracy. It’s infectious and beautiful all at once.”


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Organic Gardening 101

Posted on October 13, 2011 by Leave a comment

The Genesis Gardens team is holding a series of 7 organic gardening classes designed to benefit everyone from the novice to the gardening enthusiast!

All classes are held on Thursdays from 7:00-9:00 pm at Christ Church at 1201 W. 24th Street, Suite 204.  Come for all 7, or pick and choose the classes that interest you most!

October 20:  Intro to Community Gardening

October 27:  Plants & Seeds 1010

November 3:  Soil Health

November 10:  Compost & Crop Rotations

November 17:  A Bug’s Life

November 24:  Hands On Day

December 1: Garden Maintenence


Classes are free. Donations gratefully accepted.

Contact Steven Hebberd at Steven@MLF.org for more information!

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Genesis Gardens Newsletter – May 2011

Posted on August 1, 2011 by Comments are off

Dear Friends,

It’s been a wild and crazy ride, and while it’s nowhere near being in any sense completed, I thought it would be appropriate to stop and take note of some of the successes we’ve had. First off, can you believe the Genesis Gardens is nearly two years old already? It just seems hard to believe. Then again, it also seems hard to believe I haven’t been in college for over ten years. Crazy!

At GG we’re attempting to use the role food has always played in the life of a community to help facilitate the creation of lives marked by dignity, empowerment, and healing. We’ve divided up our efforts into three categories to mimic the three roles that food has historically always played in the life of a community: Daily food-related happenings, weekly food-events, and monthly food celebrations.

On a semi-daily basis, for some time now, GG has been hosting garden maintenance events for our residents and a few lucky homeless folk at gardens all over the Austin area. For some of our workers, we’re the only income they will have as they attempt to raise funds to pay their rent. So far, we’ve built 22 gardens across the city, including many in the RV park where most of us live. Residents in our program now have a beautiful source of pride in their front or backyard for all the neighbors to see. Two neighbors of our residents heard about the program and are now also hosting gardens for the poor.

Our latest garden-build is a beautiful showcase of the sort of multi-pronged blessing this program has been blessed to be. It was our second garden built among some Bhutanese refugees who are living in an apartment complex in East Austin. Many of the refugees worked on agriculture and animal farms in their native land but were given the choice to either give away their land (with no compensation) and move out of the country, or to convert to the native religion of Bhutan. As a result of their choice, they all ended up in Nepalese refugee camps- some for over 20 years- before they were relocated to an apartment complex here in Austin.

When we decided to hold an intensive 4-hour gardening class for the aspiring Greenhorns of our Community First! program, we looked around for a site to do the class in conjunction with a blessing: a garden built for the poor. We heard about this apartment community and the rest is history. At our first workday on the site, over 30 refugees joined our workers. All to build a little-ol’ 15 x 15 garden. Can you imagine their enthusiasm. Landless for 20 years! They dove in with both feet. We’ve decided to make it a Community Garden, home to two GG plots in addition to what we hope to be nearly an acre of garden space for the residents of this growing refugee community. What a blessing it is to be a blessing!

But that is just the daily piece of the GG program. Since December of 09, we have been maintaining the tradition of a weekly meal we call the Stone Soup Breakfast. During Easter week, we held our Easter Stone Soup Brunch. Several gourmet chefs have become regulars of our breakfast, making this the most sumptuous meal most of our clan will eat all week (it certainly beats my creative vegetative inventions)! We had so much lamb, Giblet dressing, and sides left over, I drove a full car-load of goodies down to Wooldrich Park where a famished group my street friends feasted like kings and queens. Most hadn’t eaten lamb before. It was their lucky day.

This is the life we lead, moving from hard and sweaty labor in the gardens of our neighbors and friends, to feasts and fellowship. Once a month, we also like to come together for a special occasion. It’s a different occasion each month but we never miss the chance to celebrate! Next, we’ll be eating the fruits of our community’s labor. It’s a Bratwurst Picnic, complete with sauerkraut homemade by our residents and neighbors. One of our residents possesses a specialty in the BBQ arts and will be, no-doubt, using charcoal he made himself to cook our meaty sensations.

This is what we do. We use the best food in the world to build a community- employed to do good work- who collectively embody a picture of “Home” for those we serve and serve among. Would you take a moment, to sign up to financially support the Genesis Gardens at $10 or $20 a month? It is my sincere goal to use local food and a lot of love to create a community among the formerly homeless that any community would aspire to imitate. But I can’t do that without funding for our living-wage jobs that afford our residents the ability to pay their bills or being able to pay for the gardens, tools, and educational programs that are bringing dignity and joy to the lives of our Community First residents. Please help us make the next two years of the Genesis Gardens even better than those we so joyfully look back on.

Steven Hebbard

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A Reason For Being Green

Posted on July 7, 2011 by Comments are off

Four years ago, on a wild and crazy ski weekend in Angel Fire, New Mexico I shared the 14 hour car ride up with Paige Hill. At the time, Paige was in the IT business and I was working at FEMA. My how times have changed! Little did we know it, but we would both follow our longing for the land into innovative organic farming enterprises. Hopefully, you know the path I have taken. Paige, you may not have heard about.

Urban Patchwork (urbanpatchwork.org) is a single Farm distributed across multiple backyards, front yards, and empty lots in the Crestview neighborhood of North Austin. In the same way I’m using farming and slow food to knit together a community of folk who used to live on the streets, she is using her program to create a “true community” of a neighborhood through farms, farm stands, and neighborhood classes. It’s a phenomenal enterprise, even gaining an editorial in the Austin American Statesmen (link).

I imagine if you asked Paige why she started Urban Patchwork you’d get some eloquent statement of how UP addresses the catastrophe of modern American suburban atomization. Or, she might point to the ground and say, I love soil! Both would be true. Which do you think motivates her when she gets up in the morning?

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A Child Will Lead Them

Posted on July 7, 2011 by Comments are off

“And a little child will lead them.” Most of us have heard this phrase if we’ve spent any time in church. Often said by a wise or seasoned member of the church, most don’t know these were the words of the Old Testament Prophet, Isaiah. The context is pretty important, too, as it contains the source for another phrase often heard but rarely cited: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” Huh? To clarify the meaning of such mysterious animal bonding, most preachers just say “the lion will lie down with the lamb”, but that is not really what the passage says. I‘m not sure it really matters.

What does seem to be important to the teaching, however, is the time period the Prophet is speaking about — the time when Jesus would come into the world — will see things coming together as different as wolves, lambs, and lions…and this will be a work orchestrated by a child.

This passage came to mind recently as the Karpophoreō Project hosted our first Community First! “Picnic in the Park”. And while picnics often conjure up nostalgic images inspired by scenes like the one below painted by Claude Monet, this event was anything but your average evening in the park.

To give you a picture, start with our beautiful Community First residents. Some are black, some white, some Hispanic. Some are in wheelchairs and some have difficulty walking without a cane. Though old or young, most bear the marks of the life they once spent on the street. But this was only our core group.

Add to this the folks who live in the trailer park who have become our extended family: the grandmother who bakes birthday cakes for the members of our community with her grandchildren, the neighbors and friends of neighbors who‘ve been adopted into our community life. My neighbors in the park even came along, though the mother knows no English and her kids have only just started helping me pot plants in my yard. To round out the group, imagine our dedicated volunteers and KP staffers, some with guitars in tow, some bearing unique creations of the edible variety. This was truly a “lion and lamb” event!

And did we ever eat well! The majority of the edibles came from the folk in the community. Instead of ham slices, one of the Community First residents bought a 10 lb ham from which another resident cut slices for our sandwiches. A glorious representation of the picnic-staple, Chicken Salad, accompanied cupcakes which were somehow baked inside ice cream cones, brought by another.

We feasted and sat back in mellow conversation, taking in the babies making a mess with their cupcake’s frosting and young kids playing in the garden we built next door. Dueling guitars played classic American songs as the sun sank down and an ambitious resident rounded up our stray aluminum cans for recycling. Well after dark, we said goodbye and taxied those without a car to their homes.

But of all the scenes, the one that struck me most poignantly occurred beyond my immediate vision. I heard about it the following day. To start the event we had one of our residents say a prayer. The Spanish speaking grandchild of our beloved cake-maker called out to the kids who lived next door to me, trying to gather them up. One of them was her age, apparently, and sometimes made fun of her at school. When she told the family to come into the circle so we could pray for the food, her peer replied “What is prayer?” As the little girl talked with her grandmother that night, she told her what the neighbor girl had said. Then, with childlike sincerity, declared: “Now I know why she is the way she is…. We should pray for her!”

To finish the picture, you should know that the grandmother has, in the last year, just renewed her faith through our community ABBA-sponsored Bible study, and has been talking to her family about what she’s been learning. Her daughter, the child’s mother, has just started again to attend church. This is fruit bearing at its finest…and a child again, is the leading the way.

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Posted on July 7, 2011 by Comments are off

“My grandmother always said it tastes better with a little flesh in it.”

That’s how we started out our sauerkraut-making morning with residents, neighbors, and our ever generous volunteers. We confidently set up cutting board stations and not-so-confidently equipped everyone with large knives.

We chatted and chopped cabbage while Stacey Thompson, founder of Straight from the Vine (www.straightfromthevine.net), and Brenda Walding, long term Genesis Gardens volunteer, patiently showed us how to transform cabbage and salt into what will eventually turn into delicious and nutritious sauerkraut.

Stacey sells her raw cultured organic sauerkraut at the Farmer’s Markets downtown and at the Barton Creek Mall on Saturdays as well as other stores and restaurants around town. She’s been exploring different flavors such as Lemon Garlic Dill and Korean Sauerkraut. See below for a copy of her Sauerkraut making instructions.

When making the customary rounds to invite the community to the event, it created quite a stir! Apparently everyone has a strong opinion about sauerkraut one way or the other. One resident who typically can’t make to community events due to health limitations made sure that someone was coming to pick him up and drive him down the block to the Community Home. He told me that, being from German heritage, his grandmother made sauerkraut every New Years Day in their basement.

We expected to take everyone’s tightly packed jars to watch during the fermentation stage, but several residents and community members insisted on “babysitting” the process themselves. It turned out to be a joyful morning shared stories and expectations as to how our cabbage would transform.

We will be having a cookout on April 28th with Bratwurst and, if fermentation goes the way it’s supposed to (!), our very own pro-biotic toping. This is just one of many ways GG is actively working to get the most nutritional food possible into the hands of our Community First! Residents through community events.

Steps for Making Sauerkraut

  1. Pull off outer leaves that are dark green as they tend to be dry. Also, any leaves that are blemished.
  2. Core the cabbage and cut into chunks. Slice and cut cabbage to your liking.
  3. Salt cabbage and make sure all the pieces are well coated with salt (about 1 tbsp per 2 lbs of cabbage).
  4. Let the cabbage sweat for an hour or more. The longer it sits, the more water is extracted from the cabbage. You can always massage the cabbage pieces to get out more water.
  5. Pack cabbage into a glass or ceramic container as tightly as possible. Be sure juice is over the top or at least to the level of cabbage. Leave about one inch or air space in jar because as it ferments, the cabbage expands.
  6. Place jar in a space that won’t get above 75F. You may want to put a rag underneath the container if it is full as it might leak.
  7. Start tasting the kraut after one week until desired taste and then refrigerate.

Jen Ardill

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