April 14, 2023
We’re excited to announce the first $10,000 Non-profit Grant recipient of 2023. Congratulations to Megan Reid, Farm Manager of Enlightened Farm.
Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Marcia Layton Turner sat down with Megan for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.
WomensNet: Hi everyone. Welcome to a conversation with our Nonprofit winner for the first quarter of 2023. Today, we have the pleasure of chatting with Megan Reid of Enlightened Farm in Southern New Jersey. I’m Marcia Layton Turner, and I’m one of several WomensNet Advisory Board members. And I have the great pleasure of introducing our winners.
So Megan, thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Megan: Thank you so much for having me.
WomensNet: So let’s start at the beginning. Why don’t you tell our viewers a little bit about Enlightened Farm and its mission.
Megan: Enlightened Farm is part of a larger nonprofit organization, which is called the Hansen Foundation. We operate pretty much in the South Jersey area. So we’re in Egg Harbor City, and the mission of the Hansen Foundation is to provide safe and affordable treatment and also housing for folks who are in recovery from substance use and mental illness.
So they partner with another organization called Enlightened Recovery, where we work together to fund scholarships for people to go into treatment and also scholarships and opportunities for them to stay in safe, sober housing after their time in their treatment period. So it’s a really holistic approach to treatment that extends beyond just the 30 to 45 days people are in treatment and actually, extending that care and support system far beyond that so people can take the time to heal, and get what they need.
Megan: So Enlightened Farm’s component of that is during people’s treatment, during their days in treatment, they can come to the farm twice a week to receive horticulture therapy sessions. It’s a unique and beautiful opportunity for us to use plants as a way to support people on their journey of healing. And so sometimes we’ll make herbal tea blends, or sometimes we’ll make flower bouquets or just focus on people resting and detoxing as they’re going through this intense time.
So yeah – the mission of the farm is basically to provide a safe space for people while they’re in treatment and also to provide supportive vocational training for folks after treatment so they can apply to work at the farm, once they’re in sober housing. They can work here 20 hours a week to help pay for the rent and get them going in their transitional period.
WomensNet: It sounds so multifaceted, and really, so important today. So interesting, and terrific, really. So I understand you intend to use your grant to start a mobile farmer’s market. Can you tell us why that’s so important to your program?
Megan: Yeah. So the mobile farmer’s market would encompass the facet of the farm that we’re hoping to increase food access, for the folks that are post-treatment and living in our sober living homes…a lot of whom have been enrolled in food stamps or the SNAP EBT program. And a lot of folks who are hoping to enroll as well. So the mobile farmer’s market will be offering weekly produce bags to our clients that are in housing. It’s specifically for them so they can have access to fresh, healthy produce on a weekly basis.
And so they will be getting a certain discount. If they have SNAP, they will have it at 50%. So the grant money, that’s where that kicks in to kind of offset the cost of our labor and our production so that we are able to offer this produce at an affordable price for folks who are low income or food insecure. That way, they can have access to food without having to stress about it.
WomensNet: What’s the geographic service area?
Megan: It’s relatively small. There are six houses where people would be living. So it’d be within a 10 to 15 mile radius around Atlantic City.
So there’s three that are on the island. They’re in multiple places around the area, but it wouldn’t be anywhere super far. We were thinking maybe a day when they have house meetings so people would all be in the same house at the same time, and we could take our van and just drive it around to each house. And whoever has signed up can come and get their food for that week. And we just kind of keep it on a weekly cycle. But we still have to iron out a couple of those details, but that’s generally what we’re thinking. Just to keep it simple.
WomensNet: This sounds a lot like community supported agriculture (CSA). Where you subscribe and go to one place to do your pickup. Very smart.
Megan: Yeah, we were kind of using that as a model. It’s something we’ve been wanting to incorporate at the farm and so we’re like, ‘why don’t we just start with people that we already know’?’ And people that we know eat food, need food and have already had a connection to Enlightened Farm. Cause a lot of folks have either worked here or received horticulture therapy from us. So we have that connection already.
WomensNet: Awesome. So, tell us a little bit about any upcoming milestones for Enlightened Farm.
Megan: So one thing that we’re really excited about is that we have applied to get a loan through the NRCS, which would be for a high tunnel. Which is basically like a greenhouse, but you’ll see them at a lot of different farms with their kinda tall, a-frame structure. It allows people to grow produce inside all throughout the winter. We already have a site set up; we’re just waiting for the approval, which I’m pretty sure is gonna happen.
And what that would do would be to let us continue to grow all throughout the winter, so that will increase our production and allow people to have access to greens and whatever it is that we decide to grow in the high tunnel, throughout the winter months. Because that can be the hardest when you’re going through the winter and there’s not a lot available to you. So the hope would be to be able to sell some of that produce to some of our vendors, but also use some of that for the mobile farmer’s market.
WomensNet: Well, that’s exciting.
Megan: Yeah. Thanks.
WomensNet: Well, so how can members of the WomensNet community show support for Enlightened Farm? How can we bring attention to the work you’re doing?
Megan: One of the biggest things is just spreading the word that we exist and what it is that we’re doing. We’re a small but mighty organization. We have a lot of connections in our area, but it would be great to get more and more people just aware of our mission.
And so that could be something as simple as following us on Instagram, which is just @ Enlightened Farm. So you could follow us, see what we’re up to, and share any of our posts so our community continues to widen.
We also have opportunities for volunteering at the farm. If you’re local, you can go to the website, which is just the hansenfoundationnj.org. And then there’s a little section where you can click on Enlightened Farm, which will have photos and updates about what it is that we’re doing, and there’s options to donate and also check out volunteer opportunities.
So yeah, those would be the biggest things for now. Just to use social media as a tool to kind of share what it is that we’re doing, because we’re doing really important work in our community, and I want people to be able to share it.
WomensNet: Fantastic. And Hansen Foundation is H a n s e n?
WomensNet: Awesome. Well, Megan, thank you so much for taking a few minutes to share your story, the story of Enlightened Farm, with WomensNet. I really appreciate it. And congratulations again on being our first-quarter, nonprofit winner.
Megan: Thank you so much. It was so nice to meet you and chat with you. And we are just so grateful to have this opportunity to support our mission and to support the farm and the people who benefit from it. So thank you again for investing in us and believing in our mission, because it means a lot.