A few weeks ago I was walking through the Pasadena farmers market and ordered some delicious tacos from the “Homegirl” cafe booth. The “Homegirl” cafe is an organization that train women, who are at risk or have been involved in gangs, to work in the restaurant business and learn how to grow organic food in backyard gardens. “Homegirl” cafe is part of Homeboy Industries which also help former gang involved and or recently incarcerated men and women to become contributing members of society by teaching them a trade. Chef Pati Zarate started the Homegirl services as an off shoot of Homeboy industries by hiring ex gang members to work in her restaurant “El Zarape”. In April of 2005 they opened their own “Homegirl Cafe” and extended the program to offer catering services too.
What’s even more impressive is that they now have mini farms that provide some of the food for the cafe in urban gardens. The focus is on fresh local and organic food. They also compost 100% of their food waste and use vegetable based plastic products. Their goal is to grow 30% of the food for the cafe by the end of the year. Other services the program offers is putting in edible gardens or taking classes to learn some gardening basics.
It’s encouraging to see how people are thinking outside of the box for ways to help their community.