The Farm

Problem

Our community needs shelter. Lane County has one of the highest per-capita rates of homelessness in the nation with 80% of the unhoused population living in places not meant for human habitation. We are 24,000 affordable housing units short of need with fewer than 2 shelter beds for every 100 people living unsheltered. With existing providers at capacity, our interventions must leverage our existing systems, build on our assets, and produce a diverse array of alternative, non-congregate housing options that can provide positive impacts to the surrounding areas and help those in need achieve lasting stability.

Our community needs food security. Some 527,000 Oregonians are food insecure, including more than 173,000 children and Lane County’s food insecurity rates are among the highest in the state. The pandemic highlighted the need for secure, sustainable, and inclusive, nutrient-dense food systems. A secure, reliable workforce for the agriculture, food, and natural resource industries is necessary to our food supply.

Our community needs a sustainable shelter ecosystem. Climate studies predict population growth in the Eugene and Willamette Valley area as we begin to experience more extreme weather and as the climate and environment change. Government and healthcare partners will invest millions of dollars over the next 3-years on infrastructure and operations to transform the way we design and deliver homelessness and housing interventions using primarily one-time funding dollars. We need to build a model that can sustain itself and scale up to meet the need. Overcoming objections from neighbors concerned about negative impacts on the surrounding areas is vital for the success of participants in the program and the surrounding community. 

Solution

The Farm will connect intentional communities that provide multiple pathways towards socioeconomic recovery and community resiliency in an effective, scalable mutual benefit model for stakeholders.

Benefits to Individuals

  • Belonging. Communities will be designed to empower healing, bolster food security, create jobs, and add to community resiliency.
  • Shelter. Non-congregate sheltering opportunities will be available on the primary hub site and at spoke sites that could include tiny house villages, small dormitory manufactured housing, Conestoga hut, vehicle dweller, cob housing, and RV/5th Wheels.
  • Transportation. Residents will have access to shared bikes from ReCyclized.
  • Work Opportunity. Stipended and paid workforce training opportunities will be available to residents along with personalized support to increase individual stability (income, housing, health, social). Additional hands-on work experience, training (emergency preparedness, first aid and outdoor ethics courses) and/or entrepreneurial support may be offered to planned spoke benefit communities.

Benefits to Community

  • Neighbors: Added community benefit projects that add to a sense of place, and expanded access to fresh local food and community resiliency supports.
  • Site Hosts: Choose from a menu of value-added benefits including on-site security services, on-site agriculture, mural painting, solar power generation, and community recycling services.
  • Businesses: Access to our pre-screened job applicants enrolled in state and federal incentive programs and customized workforce development programming opportunities.
  • Government: Opportunity to Incorporate climate change goals at a local level and support the marketing of local food and beverage industries. Community building with the public, host partners, providers, neighborhoods, and businesses.

Key Metrics

Some of the metrics we will be tracking to judge the success of this program.

# of people sheltered

# of people housed

# of people employed

# of microbusinesses spawned

# of lbs food produced

# of lbs waste regenerated

# of carbon sequestered

# of lbs of items recycled

The Farm is partnering with subject matter experts to design replicable models that will help us sustain more liveable cities, distribute value more widely in the economy, and foster community participation in large scope and scale problem-solving.

inspirations

We are currently working with Ja Schindler, the director of Fungi for the People. He has been a mushroom cultivator and student of fungi for over 20 years, in both research and production scales, and has facilitated hands-on mushroom workshops to over 5,500 individuals since 2009 as an act of social and environmental activism. Ja brings together progressive cultivation methods, environmental research, rich cultivation history, a vast knowledge of fungal ecology, and creative approaches to connecting with diverse peoples into an engaging learning experience.

In October, we are planning a trip to Santa Cruz to meet the Homeless Garden Project. Now in their 30th year, the program has provided sanctuary, refuge, and meaningful work within the healing space of an organic farm. Harvests have provided an opportunity to support their vision and community through a CSA program, farm stand, and crafts sold at local stores and on-line. Our goal is to learn their best practices and replicate their operational success at a local level and with a nod to the Oregon Mushroom Belt.

Organizational Development

We are in pre-pilot mode during our design phase, seeking startup capital investment. Some of the funding streams we are exploring include family foundation grants, Weyerhaeuser Giving Fund, The Ford Family Foundation, Chambers Family Foundation, Oregon Community Credit Union Foundation, business sponsorships and government contracts.

Please contact regeneristas@carryitforward.net for more information or sign up for occasional updates about this project.

Shelter

The first project Regeneristas worked on in response to the housing and homelessness crisis, was shelter in the form of tents. The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 Wildfires displaced thousands. A shelter solution that was scalable and could be produced with local labor and parts was needed and Regeneristas responded.

Together with a team of local sewists, Kibogear produced a model of tent custom designed for living outdoors in our wet rainy and often windy winters, large enough to stand in comfortably and feel at home in. The initial prototype design was slightly larger in size than a Conestoga hut and only a fraction of the weight. We set it up at Park Blocks and invited the community to see.

Photo by Sarah Koski.

Kibogear’s founder, Thomas Holden, is no stranger to tent design. In Tanzania, he designed models for use on commercial Kilimanjaro expeditions. The tents were designed for 60 mph winds and heavy snow using superlight materials. There was a rule on porter weights (not exceeding 20kg (33lbs). His largest tent (9′ x 27′) weighed under 33lbs. They can be easily transporte by bicycle.

He sent the video produced below back home to his friends to tell them about the project.

Video by John Quetzalcoatl Murray (in Swahili with English subtitles)

Safe Sleep Sites

The Eugene City Council on Wednesday, April 28, approved an ordinance to create more safe and lawful places for people to sleep. The ordinance allows for the temporary establishment of “safe parking” and “safe tent” sites that could provide options for individuals to legally park their vehicles or sleep in tents.

These sites will accommodate a larger number of vehicles or tents than previously allowed by code, up to 60 vehicles or up to 40 tents. The sites will be managed by social service providers who will be responsible for compliance with rules and community agreements, monitoring who is allowed to be on-site, coordinating ongoing site infrastructure needs, being accessible and responsive to neighbor concerns, and coordinating with the City and other partners.

We are working on a proposal for a new model with the City of Eugene Unhoused Response team using our tents that uses recycled materials and local labor in their production.

built by the community for the community

Regeneristas is working with Connected Lane County and Mitra, a designer and instructor for a commercial sewing course to explore opportunities to support workforce development in the textile industry for youth in our community. Constructing the tent fly here locally, as well as any platforms, could provide jobs and skill building where it is in demand here in Lane County.

We are working with Pastor Gabe Piechowicz and Everyone Church to include our tents in a larger, planned community model. He is helping to lead a vision towards an inclusive village model inspired by Community First Village in Austin that uses these tents in small neighborhood pods, along with the tiny-houses-on-wheels and refurbished RVs produced by partner Carry it Forward. Given the shortage of lumber and inadequacy of our current housing and shelter capacity, these attainable housing and sheltering models are what we must consider to meet the scale and scope of the need in Lane County.

John Zielinski shares an innovative heating system for the tents using a rocket stove.

Having a reliable and economical heat source is essential in considerations around using tents in the Winter. We are very interested in the Rocket Stove Radiant Heat System designed by local innovator John Zielinksi. It can provide continuous heat and keep people warm in their tents, heats greenhouses and work spaces, and provides hot water for kitchen, and showers.