Ollie Daniels works 10 hours per week at USV and McKinley House, completing routine landscaping work, trimming and pruning trees, cultivating donated plants and doing whatever it takes to keep the USV grounds looking inviting and welcoming on a shoestring budget.
Ollie Daniels first started working for BOSS in 1999 after spending around a year living in the Harrison House shelter. After he found permanent housing he was invited to participate in the Urban Gardening Institute, a partnership between BOSS and Daniel Miller, now the owner of Spiral Gardens in Berkeley. As part of the Institute Ollie learned how to start plants from seeds, amend soil and maintain gardens and landscaping. After he was finished with the Institute, Ollie enrolled in courses at Merrit College included advanced pruning techniques, plant identification, and plant cultivation.
In 2000 or 2001, Ollie was offered a full time position at BOSS to improve the landscaping and gardens at USV. After funding ran out a couple years later, Ollie’s hours were dropped to part time, but he kept working at USV while he picked up side jobs when necessary.
“People used to just drop off plants,” Ollie says. With a very small budget to improve the grounds at USV, locals were encouraged to donate cuttings and small plants. Ollie cultivated many of the plants at USV from these cuttings. The Jade, the Mexican Sage and other plants at the facility sometimes came from the same original plant.
Ollie’s other contribution to the site include growing pumpkins for the children during Halloween and working with cooks in the kitchen to provide some produce grown on site for meals. Ollie is currently waiting on a soil delivery to improve the facility’s raised beds and then he hopes to plant a large vegetable garden at the facility next spring.