Darrie Ganzhorn is Director of Programs and Operations for the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz, California. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1958, Ganzhorn studied marine biology at UC Berkeley. She worked at the Hopkins Marine Station after graduation, but when her son was born, she had an epiphany. “I didn’t want to do research anymore. I wanted to do something based on human needs. I wanted to do something that wasn’t esoteric, that was more basic and vital,” Ganzhorn said in her interview. She found meaningful work at the Homeless Garden Project, where she interned in 1991, not long after the Project was started by UCSC philosophy professor and social visionary Paul Lee. Influenced by the ideas of the radical educator Myles Horton, Ganzhorn began to edit “Voices from the Garden,” a series of newsletter profiles of homeless people who worked in the Garden. This interviewing experience infused her with an appreciation for oral history that she brought to the interview conducted by Irene Reti on February 12 and 19th, 2009, in the modest offices of the Homeless Garden Project, located in a former liquor store not far from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Cruz. Outside of Ganzhorn’s office, a team of women designed gorgeous flower wreaths for sale in the gift shop.
Ganzhorn has held various positions as the Homeless Garden Project evolved. She provides a multi-year perspective on the development of this internationally known organization and a detailed description of the various programs they offer.