For 25 years, EarthLinks has been cultivating personal transformation and self worth with people experiencing homelessness and poverty. By creating opportunities through Earth-centered programs, individuals step out of isolation and into community – restoring each other and the planet. We are a successful social enterprise with a coffee shop at 13th and Decatur, an online and retail store for gifts and handmade body products, and a garden that produces food for our participants and community members in need.
EarthLinks is located in the Sun Valley neighborhood of Denver, which is a food desert. Food deserts are typically urban areas where it is difficult for community members to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food, either due to economic or transportation barriers. We donate as much fresh produce as we can to participants of the Workshop Program and to our neighbor, Sun Valley Kitchen and Community Center. Our earth home gives us the gift of nourishment through food, and we want to share that gift of nourishment with our community.
The EarthLinks Workshop Program
At EarthLinks, everything we do benefits people and the planet. Through our micro-enterprise Workshop Program, participants who are experiencing homelessness and low income earn a stipend for their work in the garden and creative workshop. Participants create Earth-Friendly crafts, art and or products while benefiting from skills development, increased accountability, and goal setting. These invigorating activities, which drive self-esteem and motivation, are paired with professional case-management services. These services guide participants through the process of meeting their basic needs for food, housing, and other necessities. Our program uses evidence-based methods and a housing-first mentality, anchored in community stewardship of our inspiring urban farm in Denver, Colorado.
Our goal in 2021 is for 75% of participants to find or maintain stable housing. Most years, participants help produce over 10,000 artisan products and plant, grow, and harvest 1,500 lbs. of organic produce and flowers. While participants design flower bouquets that are sold to the public, all food grown in the EarthLinks garden is used directly by participants or donated to the neighborhood food, easing food-insecurity for participants and local residents. This year, product production totals are expected to be down due to ongoing limitations of COVID-19. We are optimistic, though, that our harvest totals can remain strong.
The EarthLinks Workshop Program is an on-going project. We intend to continue our program for as long as the need for meaningful work, wholesome community, and responsible care for the environment persist.