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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Self Sustaining Communities

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Public & Societal Benefit

Mission: To assist in creating a systemic change in the SF East Bay of Northern California which meets environmental, social, and sustainability needs by addressing those areas upon which survival is dependent, specifically food, energy, transportation, shelter and social inclusion. We focus on low-income, high crime areas, but are not necessarily limited thereto, most particularly Richmond, CA. We approach these areas as part of an integrated larger area where coming together to make a systemic change can effect greater well-being for all members of the community.

Results: Over 16,000 fruit, nut and olive trees distributed freely to the community; four urban farms in current production by and for the community. Street orchard planted for the homeless and addicted community nearby.

Target demographics: create local food, natural building structures, urban farmsm homeless work programs, work with formerly incarcerated

Geographic areas served: Richmond and San Pablo

Programs: materials, land and volunteer help to communities to create whole sustainable environments by and through their own sweat equity.

Community Stories

25 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love this place!! Bringing the farm life , organic garden and artistic twist to the city! It's a wonderful and peaceful place where you get to interact and care for the animals and learn how to live a health happy life! Being here helps to develop great skills of teamwork, patience, appreciation of hardwork and thinking outside the box! It has brought together many different people throughout the community in building and working together for an enviromental friendly atmosphere! I am excited to see and be part of its continues growth!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am part of a larger social group in the East Bay area. We have looked for volunteer opportunities to serve the community and have participated in the local urban farms and related activities that Self-Sustaining Communities offers. The noticeable change that takes place in a neighborhood when one of these urban farms or gardens goes in is inspiring. Neighbors rally around; passersby run home to create similar environments in their own yards; people show curiosity and care toward the farm animals. It's an important and thoughtful way to make change in these necessary times.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the big motivating factors for us moving to our current apartment was the charming Self Sustaining Communities farm behind our house. We had head about Food Justice and others like it and LOVED the idea. A load of people in our neighborhood chose to live there in part to the closeness to a garden that they could affordably grow some of their own food with the help of this non profit and build a community with their neighbors.
The goals of SSC are wonderful and aim to help people grow.
Does everything go according to plan? not always, but what does? We are working with people, where they are at and sometimes they are not quite ready for the responsibility they take on, but They learn something new and hopefully be come even better people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Self Sustaining Communities, and highly respect the director Linda Schneider and the work that she does. The way she involves and motivates the local community is a tremendous asset to all of the cities she works with. Her love for animals and personal food production is an inspiration to all. It is wonderful to have such an example of how we can live more naturally and in harmony with our environment. I encourage more people to become involved with this work and with community service.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered as the "volunteer" coordinator for several years now. It has been a rewarding and sometimes challenging position in working with many community members, from all walks of life. What has been most impressive to me is that people are able to create something significant and of interest without salaries and often with just donations of materials. What else has been really unique about observing this program is that so many people are influenced by it. They are influenced in either small or larger ways. Some just want plants to take home. Others want to bring their kids to help too. Occasionally people want to know how they can start similar urban farms in their own communities. We see people come together who normally might not meet. We see people learn to work together on projects that require an increase in skills and learning. I have been fortunate that I am in a position to be able to volunteer my time. I know that other participants have basic survival needs that aren't always able to be met by them, and so providing alternative means to meet those needs through this learning and this program are satisfying and tangibly helpful

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I came to Self-Sustaining Communities' urban farm it was because I had to work off some community service hours. What I didn't know was that I would learn a lot at the same time, and have some fun too. It is a lot of hard work though. I learned more about small farm animals than I ever have in my life, and I also learned how to plant fruit trees. My brother wanted to come with me too, and they let him come to work. He was excited to see the chickens, ducks and rabbits. I think they are nice people.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was there at the very beginning of the Richmond Annex farm. I helped build the raised beds, plant them, build the gate and fencing, and I have helped take care of the animals. I had a serious addiction and as time went along I was able to make a commitment to quit. I did. My life has been much better, although I still have more work to do.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have had a good time working with self sustaining community and trupp they both have pushed me to do thing I never thought I will do on this earth. They showed me how to be a man and what it take to be a real successful young man .I am very thankful for everything they have done for me I would work with them any time and day its real fun and help me look at the world different.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

working with self sustaining communities and t.r.u.p.p has been a great experience. I've learned a lot of new things and done things I would have thought I would be doing, things such as; building organic gardens, help taking care of the elderly and mentally challenged people around the t.r.u.p.p. transitional houses. while working with these organizations I found myself enrolling for college at contra costa county and doing positive things for the community. Honestly self sustaining communities and the remember us people project have helped me become the kind and giving person I should be.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with TRUPP has been fun learning how to plant vegetables and fruits, also with Linda Self Sustaining Community's. If it wasn't for The Remember Us People Project and Self Sustaining Community I probably wouldn't be going to school for my G.E.D and Attending Contra Costa College to play Football and Majoring In Administration Of Justice This Fall. In the meantime I also monitor tenants with mental health issues and maintain peoples yards around the neighborhood.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been a dream of mine, for many years, to raise my family on a farm so that they could learn through direct experience how to grow their own food, how to take care of animals and how to be a part of a conscious community. There are a handful of reasons why my husband and I are not able to purchase a farm at this time.
So, when I discovered the Self-Sustaining Community garden, right around the corner from where we live, I was really excited. My two daughters, Diana 2 3/4 years old and Athena 15 months old, and I have been volunteering there 4- 5 nights a week for the past three months. Prior to that, it was 1-2 times a week for 3 years. We help Winnie with feeding and watering the ducks, chickens and rabbits. We have also started growing our own vegetables, and so we water them as well. Diana loves to take some of the chicken feed and squat down and feed the ducks and chickens from her hands. It is also very exciting for Diana when she finds eggs that have been laid by the ducks or chickens. Athena, loves to take a small container and dip it in the water bucket and then Mommy gently guides her to water the vegetables in our garden. This is the highlight of our day!
My children are benefiting greatly from their experiences at the Self Sustaining Community garden and I am too. I feel empowered. I am deeply grateful to this not-for profit for their presence in our community!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Neli M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Lila S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization and great people. Very inspiring.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I picked up a flyer about Self Sustaining Communities, during one of their fruit tree giveaway programs last year at the Richmond Farmers' Market. I got in touch with Linda Schneider, the director, because I was interested in working with the aquaponics system, at the farm location in Richmond's Panhandle Annex.

Over time I came to know Linda and found that the whole thrust of Self Sustaining Communities' work interests me. I learned of her program of rehabilitating blighted lots in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Richmond into urban farms. What truly impressed me was that she has been knocking on doors, asking the neighbors of each urban farm location, what sort of green space they would like to have there, fruit orchards, community gardens, play space for kids? Neighbors then start to plan their green space, and ultimately title of the land is given to the neighborhood people.

Richmond really needs these little urban farms ... ! They boost the quality of life for the whole neighborhood.
I have seldom seen such a beneficial and openhearted plan as this, put into action. It is such an obviously good idea, and I feel inspired to do what I can to help make it happen.

Linda strikes me as a person of great integrity and discipline as well. in fact this altruistic vision of hers seems to bring out the best in volunteers who take part in SSC's projects.