Bryan has only been farming for a couple years now, but you can say he’s already an expert at it.
He's got the planting process down.
"What I like about the greenhouse is it's nice and warm in here. It’s a perfect place for us to keep the plants here," he said.
Bryan is one of the participants in the Hope Farm program collaboration between SUNY Sullivan and the New Hope Community for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
What You Need To Know
- Hope Farm is a collaboration between SUNY Sullivan and the New Hope Community for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities
- Hope Farm harvests 12,000 pounds of produce every year; 10,000 pounds go directly to New Hope's 42 supported homes. The other 2,000 pounds are donated to local food pantries
- According to the USDA, about 19% of farmers live with some type of disability
The program’s goal is to educate New Hope members about farming and healthy eating.
"One of my favorite things is seeing the confidence that it gives people to learn how to grow their own food, and also just the joy of eating something that you grew yourself," said Megan Greene, New Hope Community's farm manager.
In the winter, Greene teaches community members everything from how to seed summer crops to how to grow microgreens. But in the summer, members head to Hope Farm on the campus of SUNY Sullivan, where they get to help out with everything from shoveling compost to planting and harvesting crops.
The farm even has an off-road wheelchair and raised farm beds that makes farming accessible for everyone.
"Whoever comes to the farm and wants to participate, we can find something for them to do and a way to be inclusive," said Greene.
The farm harvests about 12,000 pounds of produce every year, 10,000 of which goes directly into New Hope’s 42 supported homes. The remaining 2,000 pounds are donated to local food pantries.
But they’re not just learning how to grow their own food.
"They’re also learning how to use that produce in their diets, growing their greens and eating them, too," said Erica Tortorella, the holistic wellness activities coordinator.
"The concept that we're trying to do is things they can do themselves, ways that they can understand the food from the basic level," said Tortorella.
And while the program helps participants learn how to farm, it also teaches them how to lead healthier lives.
"If they decide, 'OK, I'm gonna try that green smoothie,' or, 'I’m gonna put that microgreen on my salad,' any little choice that they make that brings them towards their own health and their own power, that’s amazing for me," said Tortorella.