There’s a Y in Community Collaborations
Interview with Becca Carlson, manager of SEEDS Farm
Do you have a Y personal story?
For the last few growing seasons, we have hosted YMCA summer camps at Seeds Farm. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the children engage enthusiastically with the natural world around them. I remember walking past the carrot field and harvesting a carrot — a few of the children were baffled to see that carrots grew in the ground and didn’t come from the grocery store! I believe it is important for children to get outdoors, explore the community in which they live, and learn while having fun.
In what ways does your organization partner with the Northfield Y?
Last year our farm partnered with the Northfield Area YMCA to offer an experiential component to supplement our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). In addition to the vegetables, CSA members enjoyed free admission to our Children’s Garden, and we provided kid-friendly arts & crafts, recipes featuring local foods, and seasonal invitations to our farm festivals. We also host a number of YMCA summer camps on the farm where we play in the dirt, visit the pigs and chickens, get our hands dirty, and learn about healthy fruits and vegetables.
How does your partnership with the Northfield Y impact the community? Who does it impact most?
As a farmer, I love everything about food, growing it, harvesting it, washing it, preparing it, and EATING it! But more than growing produce, I think farming is a great tool to accomplish many community development goals. Alan Durning writes in his book, This Place on Earth, that both bowling and baseball are so boring that you can’t help but talk with your neighbor, and that it’s in these conversations that real community is built. I feel the same about weeding carrots or harvesting tomatoes. Though I genuinely think these are exciting and fun tasks, they provide the space to build relationships, to interact with your community, and to share in the common goal of cultivating healthy food. As a farmer, it is important to me that people have access to food that is nutritious, tastes good, and is grown in an environmentally sensitive way.
Food played a central role in my family growing up. It was rare that anyone in my family missed gathering around the table at dinnertime. My mom prepared healthy meals that we shared together. We heard about each other’s days and spent time with one another. I feel passionate that everyone should have access to food that is nutritious, tastes good, and is grown in a way that protects our ecosystems. I look forward to partnering with the YMCA, an organization that shares similar goals.
What new opportunities will the new Y community center bring to Northfield?
I am excited for the YMCA to open in Northfield for the new opportunities it creates for collaboration and the strengthening of existing partnerships. As a farmer, when I plant a seed, I expect that it will grow into something bigger and better. I think that will happen with the Y as well. The Y is “rich soil” and I think collaborations like these provide diverse opportunities that will bear much fruit.
Why is it important for people in our community to make a pledge to the Y Capital Campaign?
It takes all of us in order to make something of this magnitude to work. A community that takes care of its people is a strong community. If people want a healthier community, the Y provides a great opportunity to leverage resources to accomplish that goal.