How does a healthy lifestyle come about? A Hudson Valley group is increasing accessibility to that through educational agriculture programs and experiences.

Tara is a member of the New Hope Community and has been working on the Hope Farm for around five years.

“The farm is good. It’s a lot to learn,” Tara said.

The New Hope Community is a Sullivan County-based nonprofit organization that’s been supporting adults with disabilities for nearly 50 years. The Hope Farm was founded in 2015. It’s a three-acre organic farm on SUNY Sullivan’s campus. From planting to taking nutrition classes, the community members are learning how to grow their own food and follow recipes to make healthy meals.

On this day, Tara took part in a group making a healthy soup recipe.

“I like that soup. It was delicious,” Tara said.

Megan Greene is head farmer of the Hope Farm. She said overseeing this work is very rewarding.

It's constant knowledge sharing, which is really cool to see, and I think is empowering,” Greene said. “I think that people get a lot of joy from eating something that they had a part in growing themselves.”

The New Hope Community works in partnership with SUNY Sullivan’s Sustainability and Culinary Programs, as well as Sullivan BOCES. Aaron Ward, Sullivan BOCES work-based learning coordinator, said this has proved to be beneficial for community members and students alike.

“One of the biggest things that I noticed is they enhance their social awareness skills. They enhance their teamwork, and as a whole, they enhance their employability skills,” Ward said. “It's wonderful to see their growth. They're very excited about it. We as instructors are very excited about it, and it's just a wonderful opportunity for them.”

Down the road at the New Hope Community’s facility are the Stables at McCoy Meadow Horse Barn. The adults there learn how to care for animals while the horses provide support right back.

Nicole has been helping at the barn since 2018.

“I love the animals. They make me; I love them. They're very special. They help me with my anxiety and stuff,” Nicole said.

New Hope Community staff members hope to see its agriculture programs continue to flourish as they grow in years to come.