Our Changemakers of the week are the farmers of Unadilla Community Farm in Edmeston, New York.
The Unadilla River, which runs alongside the farm, gets its name from the Oneidan word for “a meeting place.” And at its very core, Unadilla Community Farm is just that – a place for people to come together, learn valuable skills from one another, and celebrate our togetherness with each other and with the natural world.
The farm was founded in 2014 by a group of WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) who were inspired by years of volunteering at organic farms, intentional communities, and NGOs around the world, as well as the witnessing the exciting growth of organic agriculture and permaculture design, and participating in the revival of the back-to-the-land movement.
After volunteering around the world, they pooled their skills and resources to start a project of their own. Some, burdened by student debt, volunteered their time, while others contributed financially to get the project going. The idea was to create an accessible space led by and for young people to teach and practice sustainable skills.
They now represent the future of agriculture and a sign of hope for the restoration of our food system. Recognizing the systemic barriers facing the next generation, the methodologies they teach are centered around climate resiliency, affordability, and accessibility.
“We intentionally situated ourselves in an area that is classified by the USDA as a low-income, low-access rural food desert, so that our work to grow healthy food and teach sustainability skills could contribute to enhancing the sustainability and self-sufficiency of the local community,” says Greta Zarro, president of Unadilla Community Farm.
They applied for a seed grant to support their Veggie Box Program, a product of the internship aimed at improving food equity in the Edmeston community. The devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue of food insecurity for Edmeston families. This program works to fill the gap by delivering organic fruits and veggies to families’ doorsteps.
Affiliated with the veggie box delivery program is the farmer training program. Interns participate in all aspects of the program, from seeding to harvesting to the wash and pack station, to gain experience in operating a “CSA-style” farm model. Beyond providing training in hard skills such as sustainable farming and natural building, this project is also an opportunity for students and young people to learn interpersonal and soft skills that can be applied to any type of workplace or community living.
All programs are plant-based to intentionally promote the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
“Our vision is a fossil fuel free, community-centered society that practices natural building and climate-resilient agriculture, one in which communities have the skills to support themselves and are not dependent on multinational corporations. This vision revolves around food equity, where all people have the ability to grow and consume healthy and affordable food.”
To know more about Unadilla Community Farm, please visit https://www.unadillacommunityfarm.org/