The mission to see restoration in people’s lives and in a city through mentoring
relationships is not exclusive to Stockton. We know that people all over the world
are doing essentially the same work that Restore does in Stockton, and we love
hearing about other cities that are transformed through mentoring relationships
and raising up leaders. In January of 2013, Gerardo Gallegos and his family
launched Restore Ventura. The Gallegos family had been engaging at-risk
residents in their hometown of Ventura, California for several years before
officially coming under the banner of Restore. Gerardo and Angie, along with
their five children, are working towards restoration in the run-down places of
their city through engaging kids and their families in community gardens.
Since 2013 Restore Ventura has established seven gardens in the Avenue neighborhood of Ventura, transforming unused spaces into edible landscapes or climate-appropriate yards. One of these garden is a “learning garden” where most of Restore Ventura’s community outreach takes place. This centrally located garden (known simply as the Restore Garden) hosts around 150 youth and 85 adults on a weekly basis for community classes and events, and is as much a space for people to gather as it is a space for learning. The Restore Garden is the size of an average backyard in the neighborhood, and with 15 fruit trees, an aquaponics system, chickens, and vegetable plots, it is an inspiration for residents who want to make the most of their space. The Kids Garden Brigade, taught by Chris Massa, is an after-school program for youth in the neighborhood that provides mentoring in the context of gardening classes and activities.
Restore Ventura has brought a community together as people from diverse backgrounds work to beautify their neighborhood through landscaping and gardening. The Restore Garden holds monthly volunteer days and participates in the First Friday arts & music event in Ventura, as well as being a stop on the Ventura Art Walk. As Restore Ventura has equipped families in need with the tools for success, they have seen the lives of individuals changed, which in turn changes a community. Restore Ventura models residents giving back to a neighborhood in need to work towards a common goal of restoration in a city. Since its inception, the Gallegos family has been privileged to witness incredible transformation of impoverished areas through Restore Ventura while also inspiring the youth around them to create beautiful futures for themselves.