Winston-Salem Children's Home Has New Community Farm Store

Winston-Salem Children's Home Has New Community Farm Store

7:30am Aug 14, 2014
Volunteers from local churches and organizations are building the "Farmery", at the Children's Home in Winston-Salem. The farm store will feature fresh produce for the public and serve as a place to recruit new volunteers.
Keri Brown

This week, volunteers at the Children’s Home in Winston-Salem are putting the finishing touches on a new farm building.  This comes six months after the Home nearly lost its animals and some therapeutic programs for at risk youth.

Nestled in the middle of the 200 acre campus at the Children’s Home is a working farm. The property is located in the heart of the city on the West end. Views of the city’s downtown skyline meet the rolling green pastures.

For decades, the farm and its animals have been used for therapy and experiential learning programs for youth. But reduced state funding and growing expenses threatened continued operations. Since then, a group of volunteers have a created a plan to save the farm.

Volunteers are renovating one of the old buildings on campus to create a modern day farm store. Leigh Summer is one of the project organizers. “The Farmery” or the farm store will be the hub of all of the activity at the farm. It will be where we will run all of our gardening programs out of, where we sell the produce from, where we coordinate volunteers and community activities at the farm, so it will truly become the front porch of the children’s home,” says Summer.

The Children’s Home serves nearly 200 youth through foster care and other alternative education programs. Colleen Hutchins, 82, grew up at the children’s home when it served as an orphanage. She vividly remembers working in the kitchen, helping to make sausage and canning green beans. Today, she volunteers at the farm taking care of the animals.

“I was here from 3 until I graduated at 18. It was my life and I really enjoyed it. It was a really good place to live. They taught you how to work and how to help other people, so I really love the place, and now it is going to be built back up and it’s going to be a good place, it is going to be good,” Hutchins says.

Kim MacPherson is the Coordinator of volunteers and alumni relations at the home. She says the Farmery is a sign of new beginnings for the children it serves. “We just served a group of nine year-olds who have never seen a farm and they watched a chicken lay an egg,” says MacPherson. “They walked away from here with a fabulous experience, some beautiful memories and they learned where food came from, so we continue to serve children but in a different way.”

"Produce from the Children's Home garden is on sale at their mobile cart locations. Revenues will go back into the farm to help sustain agricultural and therapeutic programs for at risk youth.

Another way volunteers are making the farm self-sustaining is with a mobile produce cart. Several times a week they sell fruit and vegetables outside of Krankies Coffee on Reynolda Road and at the YMCA near Hanes Park. The new farm store will officially open to the public in October.

Follow Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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