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38 Reviews
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May 30, 2014

I'm an ex-law enforcement officer with PTSD, and am currently disabled with physical injuries and severe depression. I first became aware of the nonprofit's work when they started their first urban farming project five or so years ago, about a block from my apartment in Richmond. I met and became friends with their ED, Linda Schneider, over the next few years. I was minimally involved at first, because of my demanding workload at the time, and was frankly pretty skeptical that the project would survive -- as an LEO, I expected, in a tough urban neighborhood, to see major vandalism (or worse) pretty quickly.

Amazingly, the garden grew and flourished, and an increased community spirit and better neighbor-to-neighbor relationships soon developed. In addition to her work on the farm, Linda and her crew planted fruit and almond trees on the street, and these are now starting to bear fruit, to the delight of the many children and other pedestrians along San Joaquin. Other "farm" projects began spreading throughout Richmond, and our eyesore abandoned lot became a haven for agricultural discussions and chicken-raising help.

When I became completely disabled, six months ago, Linda started asking me to help feed and check on the nine chickens, eight ducks, and two rabbits that lived on site, since she had moved out of the immediate area of the "farm." After about three months it became a regular part of my routine. Now, I can't imagine life without my farm time! I have found it to be one of the most relaxing, calming, and enjoyable activities of my day -- it's at least, if not more, helpful than any other facet of my treatment for PTSD. The rhythms of the natural day, the calm neighborly interactions, and the spirit of the effort have comforted me, as well as giving me a way to feel like I'm still involved in helping and serving the community, even in my currently "gimpy" state.

I can't recommend this organization and its inspirational leader, Linda Schneider, highly enough. In addition to making a wonderful change to the immediate neighborhood in which I live, and providing many Richmond neighborhoods with their first real taste of good, home-farmed produce, Self-Sustaining Communities has given me an absolutely vital helping hand as I recover from working the tougher side of urban life. Linda's excellent examples in teaching, mentoring, and organization have been a huge inspiration to me to keep going, too -- she's really made it possible for me to find the courage to hang onto some of my own dreams for a gentler, more kindly, less materialistic society, at a time when I really have not had much other reason to continue to hope.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

... find a way to make a permanent teaching farm possible, on land permanently cared for and owned by the nonprofit. This would allow the nonprofit's plant-distributing, animal care, and teaching activities to have a stable basis. (Currently most activities are being done on abandoned urban lots, and the community is under the constant threat of losing their efforts, if a lot sells at auction or is suddenly leveled on the orders of an absentee landlord. Very stressful!)

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

May 12, 2014

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May 12, 2014

I live in an apartment building without any grounds for gardening and was looking for an opportunity to work in a garden. Fortunately, I was referred to Self Sustaining Communities. Linda has been flexible with my crazy work schedule and I've been able to volunteer. The variety of opportunities besides actually working in the garden plot is really amazing- one weekend we handed out fruit trees, another, I cleaned out the hen house and was rewarded with fresh eggs. As expected, this organization attracts interesting and committed individuals. Linda is very knowledgeable about plants and animals on the lands. She is a visionary and very inspiring when she presents her ideas for creating a sustainable future as fuel prices rise and it's unrealistic to transport vegetables long distances. Several weekends i worked with youth from a halfway house the non profit is connected with. It feels very meaningful that we are involved in teaching viable skills to future generations.
If you have a desire to be involved in gardening, this is the group for you.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I have no suggestions at this time.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

April 25, 2014

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April 25, 2014

I have been volunteering at Self-Sustaining Communities for over seven months and in that short period of time I have gained a new perspective on life. Working on the garden is so satisfying and helping pass out free fruit trees and vegetables to the Richmond community was life changing. Linda is selfless, welcoming and inspiring. She has changed many lives including mine and I can't thank her enough for the experiences she has given me. Self-Sustaining Communities gives people second chances, brings people together and is my favorite place to be on Friday afternoons.
September 13, 2013

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September 13, 2013

Self sustaining communities is a real eye opener for me. I knew there were urban gardens around but never actually been inside one or knew how to run one. Linda's gardens are inviting and allows you full access to explore and learn. I have always wanted a garden of my own, so its amazing to see such wonderful examples and the potential the gardens have. By volunteering in these gardens, I not only learn what it takes, but meet new people and witness first hand the positive effect it has on people's lives.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have more community/volunteer gatherings such as for planting and maintenance to keep people involved regularly.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 9, 2013

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September 9, 2013

My interaction with Self Sustaining Communities has been as an active volunteer. Because of my experience with trees and nursery work I always help out with picking up bare root fruit trees and distributing them to Richmond neighborhoods. Sometimes I will hold over the bare root stock until they are needed by the communities. I enjoy doing this because I enjoy working with plants. What has surprised me is the enjoyment I get from working with the people receiving these trees. They are very thankful, but also full of questions, and they show a desire to learn about the 'fruits' of their labor.

Self Sustaining Communities is a wonderful vehicle for getting things done. I especially appreciate the willingness to dive into a project and work their way through it. I see that in the chicken and rabbit farm, the vegetable gardens, the hydroponics and fish project. These are things that they just get done, and then they produce. That is the key to self-sustaining.

I would encourage others to volunteer. Don't let your fear of the unknown prevent you from meeting real good people. It is rewarding for everyone involved. This is a great organization.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Privide them with a money tree so they could do even more things to help out these communities.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 9, 2013

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September 9, 2013

i learned about the work that Self-Sustaining Communities is doing when viewing a brilliant television program. Seeing the light in the eyes of the young people who are so proud of their participation in growing a garden and building something positive in their community moved me to tears. To offer the opportunity to contribute to LIFE through planting gardens as the alternative to the death and destruction of gang membership - is truly awe inspiring and uplifting not only for the participants, but for anyone that is blessed to know about this work. Each and every one of us can make a difference wherever we live. I am so very grateful to know about Self-Sustaining communities. I am inspired and encouraged, and I look forward to a flourishing future for this organization and the beautiful people who take part in their work!

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 7, 2013

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September 7, 2013

Having come from Bulgaria, and first going to South Carolina, settling in California, I was so impressed with what I saw this organization doing that I decided to get involved myself. I moved into Richmond to be a part of this organization because I love to see the results of my work, working outdoors for the environment, with people on urban farms, and in neighborhoods creating green environments. I see children learning this as a way of life and I see hope for the future.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 6, 2013

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September 6, 2013

I found this charity when looking for a home near a community garden or farm. I found Self Sustaining Communities and fell in love right away. I began volunteering in the garden and quickly found a plot of land on the site that had not been planted. We began working on planning and digging in this area and are slowing transforming it to be a permaculture food forest. We'll work w/ the soil over the next couple of seasons and plant in the spring. I was very happy to find a place to volunteer regularly w/ freedom to start my own project and learn as I go.
Now, I help w/ the chickens and other animals too. Daily morning feedings give me an opportunity to connect to the farm in a deeper way. I feel a great sense of purpose while starting my morning at dawn on the farm, surprisingly in Richmond.
The most exciting things about this organization is the people that run it and volunteer here. There is a growing community of volunteers who feel a sense of home on our farm. Seeing regular faces in a neighborhood I wouldn't expect to love has made my move feel like home.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I'd love to see this organization have more access to financial and land resources. Their mission includes creating sustainable, easy to build housing for groups of people to share, set among community farms and shared use or local resources. In order to do this, they need the cost/politics of land ownership/use to flow more freely. There are many volunteers and expanding interest, which is really exciting.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 6, 2013

more

September 6, 2013

I was looking for a volunteer opportunity when I moved to Richmond. Self Sustaining Communities appealed to me on multiple levels; people creating alternative economies and moving toward self-reliance, promoting an awareness of healthy eating and physical activity, moving away from industrial agriculture, building a sense of community, cooperation, and ownership in blighted areas. Self-Sustaining Communites is having a real impact in this community, and provides an opportunity for volunteers who want to feel engaged in a worthwhile project.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

-

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

September 5, 2013

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September 5, 2013

I was amazed by what this community is doing. I'm a realtor. I was looking a property earlier this year, and passed by a little farm garden. The garden has vegetable beds and varity of vegetables, chicken house, bee house and fish pond. I was curious who was doing all of those, and that's how I met Linda. I then learned that not only this farm, the organization also created three farms in other areas in Richmond. I was very much impressed. Richmond has the worst reputation in Bay Area in terms of high crime rate and low income level. Self sustainable communities has been done so much to improve the areas, and at so limited resources.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help them to be successful

More feedback...

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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3 hours of volunteer time for this nonprofit will...

Plant vegetables, fruit trees, clean a chicken coop, harvest honey from a beehive, build Volunteer