Joelle Anselmo, Reporter
Grace Farms is a place where a building, designed to disappear into the 80 acres of open space and preserved land, can help foster and facilitate five initiatives: Community, Faith, Arts, Nature, and Justice.
Nicole Fealey, Grace Farms Foundation’s Director of Human Resources, described how the architecture welcomes and encourages communication. “We can have different activities going on, yet still feel connected by this roofline,” Ms. Fealey said. Each glass building is intended to make guests feel as though they are outside. Grace Farms also plans to create an outdoor recreational facility that will host sports and other activities.
The Grace Farms Justice initiative focuses on anti-trafficking measures and the disruption of gender-based violence. It provides space that organizations, including the United Nations, use for workshops. Grace Farms also keeps things close to home; about 70% of the nonprofits they support are local organizations. “The Foundation believes innovative collaborations across sectors are critical to accelerate efforts to combat modern day slavery,” Nicole said.
Grace Farms’ Faith initiative accepts every religion or no religion at all. Their purpose is to guide and help others find their path through life. “There’s an openness to approaching faith here and there’s not a lot of safe spaces to do that nowadays,” Nicole said.
One of Grace Farm’s goals is to preserve nature and use the open space given to them. “We use three acres pretty actively, and the other 77 for preserved as open space for wildlife and as a gift back to the
community,” Nicole said. Grace Farms also hosts seminars on conservation of land, wildlife tracking and preservation of plants, animals and land. They also have a walking trail and several ponds and meadows open for guests to explore.
Grace Farms wants to open up their space to be useful for high school students, especially during finals week. They have already got in touch with the Bee Club at the high school and started building beehives at the farm. “There’s a balance of passive and active recreation,” Nicole said. “There can be people playing in the court as well as having a quiet moment in one of the buildings, like the pavilion or library.”
From Tuesday, the 13th, through Sunday, the 18th, they are offering reserved study space in the library as well as communal studying in the Commons, a communal space with tables, sofas and a huge fireplace, where students can grab free snacks for any high school student.
For the first time, Grace Farms is offering internships for seniors at the high school. There are a total of six interns at the Farm. Some interns work in the Community Gardens, while the others work on researching
potential partnerships or methods to broaden the impact of important events and projects. Drew Davis, an intern in the Communications and Marketing team, elaborated on one of her favorite parts about working at Grace Farms. “Everyone there is so smart and passionate about what they’re doing,” Drew said. “Even though they all have different focuses, they are all working for the greater good.”
Grace Farms’ ultimate mission, through the open space and five initiatives is to advance good in the world. “There’s so many things going on that I think people can find different meanings of Grace Farms for them,” Drew said.
Grace Farms hopes to continue to evolve as a dynamic platform for people to enjoy and learn about their community. “We are only in year 2 and the possibilities are endless,” Nicole said. They are open to any suggestions and feedback that the community recommends.
Here is a link to Drew Davis’ question and answer blog she recently wrote for the website.