Cultivating Community Connections: From seed to table

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2008: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $12,000.00
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:
Sonja Riddle-Ford
Stonewall Farm

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Vegetables: leeks, onions, peppers, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: poultry


  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, community services, community development

    Proposal abstract:

    Stonewall Farm has been practicing sustainable farming, providing farm and agriculture-related education programs, and hosting events that promote community connection to agriculture for the past thirteen years. Stonewall Farm offers a variety of seasonal events and education-based programs for children ages three until thirteen and adults. Stonewall Farm has identified a gap in our service to the community because of a lack of programs directed towards high school-aged students. This gap is a major concern because this age category is at an incredibly influential age. They are establishing their identity and making plans for their future. We feel it is critical to provide agricultural education to them so they mature into environmentally- and health-conscientious adults with respect and awareness of the importance of farms and community in our everyday lives. With the progression towards industrial farming, our society has alienated itself from the agricultural world. Our communities no longer share a strong connection with the food they consume and those farmers who work the land to produce it. The severed relationship between people and the land alienates neighbor from neighbor and the sense of community is damaged. Many of our cultural celebrations and traditions are linked to the land and its bounty. These traditions and our heritage have also suffered. In addition, it has proven to be detrimental for the environment. Farms function as a space for gathering the community in celebration of the seasons, harvests, or holidays. These celebrations have functioned to solidify the social fabric of our lives. However, more recently, the social fabric that held together communities is torn apart by busy lives causing us to abandon our community gatherings. The deterioration of closely knit social networks has led to the alienation of individuals from the larger community. Through the support our local farms, farmers markets and CSAs, we can preserve the sense of community and create more opportunity for celebration, and developing a sense of belonging to our community and our individual role within that social network.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Stonewall Farm is developing a program to target high-school age students. Our goal is to hire a program coordinator who would develop the program in conjunction with the department heads of the Cheshire Career Center (CCC), the vocation school at Keene High School (KHS) in Keene, New Hampshire. We have met with and plan to work with CCC’s department head and faculty of the programs offered through CCC: business education, technology and trades. The project plan aims to target students from several CCC programs, including business education, culinary arts, and horticulture, including those participating in Future Farmers of America (FFA). The project will include growing, harvesting, preparing, and marketing products from Stonewall Farm through Keene High School.

    Although many high school students show little interest in agricultural education these days, we feel a program that connects agriculture to business, community and economic sustainability would generate excitement from the students.
    The general program outline is as follows:

    • The students in all departments create a team to develop a business plan for a marketable food product based on the potential harvest at Stonewall Farm.

    • The horticulture students then collaborate with Stonewall Farm’s Garden Department to plant and grow specific vegetables, herbs, etc. that are needed for the product.

    • The culinary students will take the produce and create the marketable product.

    • The marketing students will develop a brand name and marketing plan to sell the product throughout the community.

    • All students will work to sell the product.

    • All students will participate in the planning and execution of the end-of-harvest dinner.

    • Students will determine how the proceeds will be reinvested into the business.

    Through this process, the students will gain knowledge of economics, marketing, financial and business management and see how all these components fit together in running a successful agribusiness. This project will provide CCC with the opportunity to generate cohesion between departments, previously unavailable due to limited space, to create a holistic learning environment.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.