GDS Community Partner Spotlight: Haley House-Urban Agriculture Program

Feat. Laura Kakalecz
By Michaela Johnston

Haley House is a Roxbury and South-End based nonprofit that serves the Greater Boston community through four branches: housing, urban farming, the Haley House Bakery Café and direct services that include a soup kitchen, food pantry, clothing room and meals for the elderly. BU students will have the opportunity to serve with the Haley House’s Urban Agriculture Program for Global Days of Service.

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How did the Urban Agriculture program get its’ start at the Haley House?

According to their website, in 1983, members of the Haley House community reclaimed an organic farm in Winchendon Springs, Massachusetts as a way of reconnecting with the land and to grow fresh produce for the Soup Kitchen. The farm, NoonDay, developed into a completely self-sufficient biodynamic farm and supplied our meals programs with fresh, organic produce for 30 years. In 2011, we chose to refocus our farming efforts in the urban centers of Boston, closer to our home base and the people we serve. So, in 2012, Haley House sold NoonDay Farm to a land trust to preserve its mission and plunged into new urban agriculture efforts in the South End and Roxbury.

Our first site began in 2011, creating a school garden in partnership with McKinley South End Academy to provide garden, science, and nutrition education for students in a hands-on learning environment. Since 2014, we have been working with Hawthorne Youth and Community Center to maintain a community garden and production farm site on 2/3 of an acre in Roxbury’s Highland Park neighborhood called Thornton Street Farm.

What can BU volunteers expect to be doing while serving at the Urban Agriculture program on April 22nd?

Volunteers can expect to be doing spring site maintenance, with anything from raking, to weeding, to building beds. This will help us prepare for transplanting our spring and summer crops, as well as adding to our landscape of native plants around the perimeter of the site.

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What impact does the program have on other Haley House programs?

The produce from our farm and garden is utilized by our soup kitchen in fresh and nutritious meals served to guests, as well as by our 2 social enterprise restaurants, The Haley House Bakery Cafe, and Dudley Dough. This means that the food that we grow is traveling less than 2 miles from farm to plate.

What groups of people and parts of Boston does the Hayley House serve?

Haley House serves a diverse range of folks, mostly centered in the South End and Roxbury. This includes men and elders who are experiencing homelessness or food insecurity, youth, folks who are returning home from prison, and other local community members.

What kind of impact is the Haley House leaving on the Greater Boston area?

Haley House uses food and the power of community to break down barriers between people and create an alternative vision for how we can live and thrive. Our farms contribute to this mission in contributing to a resilient local food system and community of folks with the knowledge and skills to spread this work.

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