Unbantu Acres… cultivating diverse community


Click here for our AMAZING cover Article in the PCUSA World Hunger magazine!!

On any given day at Costanoa Commons Farm, you’ll likely find Chris Robertson out tilling the soil – shirtless and shoeless. Chris’s struggles to overcome homelessness and addiction, while caring for a severely autistic 13-year-old child, make him a representative of three distinct and too often despondent populations. To Chris’s right, Carson, a 20-year-old whose passion for farming shines brighter than his cerebral palsy diagnosis, preps a watermelon patch. To Chris’s left, a group of ‘special’ children attend a summer camp, oblivious to any segregating needs, and they frolic after free- range chickens.

Costanoa Commons is an urban farm/ intentional community located less than

a mile from downtown Santa Cruz, CA. Costanoa cultivates a deep sense of companionship by integrating diverse neighbors, including unhoused people and disabled youth, as common-‘panions’ (Latin for ‘spiritual/physical nourishment) through a common-passion (the foundation for ‘compassion’) for gardening.

The farm is working hard to demystify labels and misperceptions by focusing on the gifts, not the ‘needs’ that make these neighbors ‘special.’ “Noah is very clear about wanting to offer something to his community that other people value,” says Heidi. “With an effort that is truly integrated, where those with disabilities work side-by-side with others who don’t have the same challenges, attitudes that typically hinder people from living full lives can change.”

Society vastly misunderstands people who are often classified as “disabled,” despite their prominence in the community. In fact, “if formally recognized as a group [they] would be the largest minority in the United States” says the National Institute on Disability. Moreover, it is the one minority group that any of us could join at any time.

Alternatively-abled individuals are too often viewed as lacking… defined, labeled and limited by their ‘needs.’ This is far from the case, for God has made each ‘perfect’ and ‘whole’ and their presence is essential to the completeness of our greater community. As Plato wrote, “we are all born whole, but we need each other to be complete.”

As soon as you set foot on the soil – the ‘adamah’ (dirt) from which we sprout – of this Santa Cruz sanctuary, you feel at home. In these fields, inclusivity is more than an aspiration, but an experience as refreshing as the early summer strawberries brightening the fields. What makes gardeners of this farm so special isn’t their ‘dis’- abilities but their unique ability to see beyond divisive labels (the L’s, G’s, B’s, T’s and Q’s; abled and disabled; housed and homeless; Jew, Christian, Muslim…) as they cultivate a community of true acceptance.

Cultivating relationship, purpose, and organic veggies for all!

How can you help you ask?

  • Donations of gift cards: Help us provide for those who are working to provide for the community! These veterans are transitioning out of homelessness and any support towards food, transportation, social services, or therapeutic services (medical, nutritional, counseling, etc) is incredibly helpful.
  • Host a ‘Pop-up Farmstand! : We are looking for safe/supportive events and communities to bring our mobile gratuity based (pick ur price) organic farmers market simulation stand and pizza stand!
  • Visit/volunteer at our farm!!!     We’ve partnered with www.costonoacommons.org and host volunteers every tuesday 10am-1pm, our Saturday farmstand 12-3pm, and would love to schedule a special intro/workday for you and/or your group side by side with our special needs and homeless gardeners!   335 Golfclub dr., Santa Cruz CA
  • Hire one of our trainees! Our program is meant to be a transitional (and transformational) step towards longterm employment and housing…. We would love to work with you as a potential placement site for individuals as they grow ready to re-enter the workforce.
    Make a financial contribution. All donations are tax exempt and we invite you to direct your support towards general operations or specific initiatives:

    • Provide a scholarship for one of our participants (a small stipend for their garden work and material costs for their project)
    • Sponsor a produce scholarship for a community in need, event, etc
    • Help us get a dehydrator! (@$550)
    • Build a Barn!    $10,000 to go!

Learn more about our partners www.costanoacommons.org


By | February 11, 2017 | | Comments Off on Unbantu Acres… cultivating diverse community

Keeping in Touch in these Texting Times…

DON’T MISS A FLOCKING!! Sweaty Sheep is truly Christianity on the Move, and we want YOU to keep up! Join our text message list (we won’t flood you with messages) by texting “Sheep” to 51555.       This is a simple, no strings, cancel anytime, text group.   If you do want to donate you can text “Sweaty” to 41444 and you can make a pledge for later or specify a donation amount.  Thank you all!!sheep phone

By | October 15, 2014 | | Comments Off on Keeping in Touch in these Texting Times…

May 11th Fun Day!!

ff-pix1  Register at  http://www.barrenheights.org/news/barren-heights-fun-fest-2013

Time to Run!!! Time to Smile!!! Time to have fun Barren Heights Style…..The 2013 Barren Heights Fun Festival and fundraiser happens May 11, in Louisville, KY.  So mark your calendars. We are combining the 5k Run with a Barren Heights reunion typically held on Memorial Day. This day promises to be filled with the typical Barren Heights experience.  We will have many of the same events that we had in years past including inflatables and games for the kids, as well as, a new event “Animal Underground” from Animal Tales providing a live animal educational program with emphasis on God and His creation.




The schedule for the day will run from 10:00 am – 3pm (9:30 check in for 5k participants), at Calvin Presbyterian Church on Rudy Lane in Louisville. The 5k is being held from 10-11:30am, pay lunch from 11:30 – 1pm, Animal Tales at 1pm, and Praise and Worship at 2pm.




Activities include:

  • 5k race (fun run) starting at 10am
  • Inflatables
  • Water Balloon launch
  • Live Music and Worship
  • Grilled lunch ($5 plate)
  • Live Animals from Animal Tales
  • Kickball games
  • Soccer Games
  • Large play set for kids


  • Face Painting
  • Bing Bag games
  • Lots of smiles




5k Information


The 5k will begin promptly at 10am and is grass and paved trail (with some fun surprises.) We will reward the top three times. This is a fundraiser event so anyone who raises over $25 will receive a wonderful Barren Heights t-shirt. For those who raise $50 or more you will also receive the coveted Barren Heights backpack. Also, funds raised will go toward completion of the New Barn and we have a generous corporate donor who is matching those funds – Wahoooooooo!!!!!!!




Please register at www.barrenheights.com


About Barren Heights: Located near Barren River Lake in south central Kentucky, the facility is run by a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Barren Heights Christian Retreat Center, Inc. The campus was built for the primary purpose of hosting mini-vacation style retreats for families who have one or more children with a physical or developmental disability. The retreats are free for qualified families.


People have asked us why we built this place, and that is a fair question. To put it simply, we saw a need and wanted to do what we could to fill it. We have tremendous respect for parents and caretakers of children with disabilities – they are often physically taxed and emotionally drained in unique ways. We felt that those families could use a weekend getaway at a facility that was designed with their specific needs in mind. We have no hidden agenda, and simply want you and your family to consider taking advantage of this opportunity to relax, refresh and rejuvenate near the scenic Barren River Lake.


By | April 13, 2013 | | Comments Off on May 11th Fun Day!!

It’s been said that there is “nothing new under the sun…” (little Ecclesiastes for ya.) Well there is newness happening in Sweaty Sheep and we pray that you join in our excitement! As our mission project this Fall we have launched a chapter of “Achilles,” a national initiative to provide training and racing to athletes with disabilities. That said, we need your prayers; your time and sweat as coaches, mentors, and friends; and if you are in a situation to give, we need your financial support to help us with the costs of specialized hand cycles, random bikes, etc… (have an old random or recumbent bike in the garage collecting dust? We have a home for it!) “Like” and follow the program at http://www.facebook.com/KYBluegrassAchilles and email Ryan@Runningmango@msn.com for more info!

That not exciting enough? We are also in the process of getting space for more programs than ever before: Christian yoga, Pilates, Zumba, etc., as well as a Christian based endurance sport coaching program!

Yep, it’s an exciting month here amongst the flock!

Take a look at our most recent FRONTPAGE article in the Courier Journal!
Courier Journal Article

By | September 1, 2012 | | Comments Off on

Spirit of the Runner’s High Bible study

Every Wednesday, we invite you to come out to Fleet Feet Louisville for a FREE 6:30pm group run (all paces welcome) and/or our Bible Study afterward (all faith traditions welcome.) the series will look at the existential phenomenon that we call the “Runner’s High” in a faith based perspective. We will look at religious traditions (not merely Christian), key figures both athletic and religious, biblical writings, and our personal experiences in gaining a new appreciation for our running denomination. This is a great time to meet fellow runners and to add a spiritual component to the sport we love. Call 443-223-7334 with any questions and we hope to see you all soon.

By | July 9, 2012 | | Comments Off on Spirit of the Runner’s High Bible study

Pedaling Pilgrimage!
Team Sweaty Sheep Finishes Pedaling Pilgrimage
(More info: What is the Pedaling Pilgrimage?)

Hey gang!! Get ready because on July 11th we will be launching “The spirit of the runner’s high” Bible study!!!! Meet at Fleet feet sports at 6:30 for a group run and/or 7:30pm for the first of our weekly series. We will be looking at runner’s high as a divine experience and racing it’s origins through the Bible, various religions, and ancient through present mystics. This is open to runners, walkers, and none of the above as well as all faith backgrounds! Email Runningmango@msn.com for more details and we hope to see everyone there!

By | June 12, 2012 | | Comments Off on