From the very beginning, one of our aspirations at Costanoa Commons was to build an inclusive community around our organic farm. The idea that disabled individuals can grow healthy food and thus give back to others in need is already resonating with our Santa Cruz neighbors and bringing fresh supporters and ideas on board.
Ryan Althaus, a Presbyterian minister, surfer, and social justice advocate, found out about our farm through Shared Adventures. A sailor at heart, he has been teaching sailing to folks with special needs for years. Ryan’s background is in community building, inclusivity, and hunger prevention. For this unconventional pastor a church is not about walls, but about people in the larger community and the difference that can be made in their lives. He is certainly not a typical churchman one frequently imagines. His sunny smile, enthusiasm, blond dreadlocks, creativity, and gregarious personality quickly win over everyone. Farmer Noah Habib has already become Ryan’s best buddy, band mate, and collaborator on a children’s book.
Mobile Farm stand is one of the latest creative ideas that Ryan is bringing to the farm. Imagine a van or a trailer with a solar powered pizza oven, produce stand, and a hydroponic or aquaponic demonstration garden! A group of special needs volunteers and their friends will take the trailer around town, visiting churches, community groups, and low-income housing. They will learn how to sell produce, bake pizza with various freshly picked toppings and build friendships in the community. Ryan’s hope is that this enterprise will help break social and economic barriers as we empower folks of all abilities to learn new skills and give back to the larger community.
We often think of individuals with disabilities as people with special needs. Ryan believes that we should think of them as people with special gifts. With Ryan’s help, we hope to develop these extraordinary gifts and uncover everyone’s talents here on the farm.
If you are joining us at our Farm Fest on October 6, be sure to try delicious pizza created in a solar powered oven with fresh picked ingredients from our own farm.