Published October 24, 2017
Volume 1, Number 10

Banner Year for Sunflower Hill's Work on Behalf of

Special Needs Adults

By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer
It has been a banner year for Sunflower Hill, the Tri-Valley nonprofit that has worked  tirelessly to create intentional communities and vocational opportunities for  individuals  who have autism, Downs syndrome, developmental delays, and other special needs.

Sunflower Hill’s important mission and years of effort were honored statewide this summer when local Assemblywoman Catharine Baker chose Sunflower Hill as California Assembly District 16’s Nonprofit of the Year for 2017.
“Sunflower Hill is a fitting, deserving recipient of our Nonprofit of the Year Award,” Baker noted in a statement. “This local organization creates an environment of hope, greater independence, and community connection for special needs adults. Our community is better and enriched by Sunflower Hill.”

Two Sunflower Hill residential communities are now in development.  In February, the Pleasanton City Council approved the future site of Sunflower Hill at Irby Ranch, a planned residential community at a new subdivision by Heritage Homes. The community will offer 31 housing units with the kind of features associated with “senior living,” according to the nonprofit. In March, the Livermore City Council approved the Sunflower Hill Livermore project, which will offer homes to 44 special needs individuals.

Another Sunflower Hill milestone was met with the completion of a greenhouse at Sunflower Hill Gardens, the nonprofit’s horticulture vocational training program, at Hagemann Ranch in Livermore. More than 150 special needs individuals have benefited from garden-related services since the garden broke ground in 2015, according to the nonprofit. 

During the 2016 school year, seven transition classes from local schools visited the garden weekly for vocational training in the horticulture field. A Danville adult special needs day program also worked in the garden weekly, and several interns with special needs have gained important vocational experience by working and learning at Sunflower Hill Gardens.

Since April 2015, about 17,000 pounds of food has been harvested from the garden, with some 12,000 pounds of produce donated to local food banks for distribution to low-income families. The rest of the produce has been sold to local restaurants such as Wente Vineyard Restaurant  through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For a modest fee, the CSA program allows local residents to “subscribe” to weekly or twice-monthly boxes of produce, or locals can buy produce at the garden. All profits support the garden program.

In 2016, Sunflower Hill Gardens produced more than 45 types of produce; a recent harvest has included broccoli, radishes, collard greens, kale, white cabbages, Bibb lettuce, various herbs, and sunflower bouquets. 

More than 300 general volunteers and countless donors have helped develop and maintain the success of Sunflower Hill’s mission. For information about buying produce from the garden or subscribing to a CSA box, visit www.sunflowerhill.org/sunflower-hill-gardens/purchase-food-from-our-sfh-gardens. For more information about Sunflower Hill, visit www.sunflowerhill.org.