Nonprofit Highlight: Smart Farm of Barrington

Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s eleventh installment of their profile program, highlighting non-profits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of Smart Farm of Barrington.

Interview with Stacy Cushenbery – Farm Coordinator | Smart Farm of Barrington

What do you feel is the most important benefit your organization provides to the community?
Smart Farm of Barrington provides a unique chance for people to be involved in the food that they consume. Our mission combines equitable food access with conservation to help support a vibrant local food system. We strive to provide high-quality produce to the community while protecting our soil and water ecosystems. The majority of the produce grown on the farm is donated to local food pantries and kitchens, while the remaining will be sold at the farm’s market stand. Smart Farm volunteers help us achieve our mission every day! .

How has your organization handled the challenges during Covid, as far as your services, programs, staffing, etc.?
The farm did incredible work through 2020, providing over 14,000 lbs of produce to area food pantries and kitchens. The farm is continuing to grow in 2021 so that we can provide additional benefits to the community. Covid has allowed the farm to recommit itself to the environmental health of our water and soil and take time to plan for the future. We have developed a strategic plan for the next 20 years that ensures that the farm is vibrant for years to come. We have also added new staff to help expand the offerings to the community.

How do you utilize volunteers in your organization?
Volunteers at the Smart Farm of Barrington are a vital part of the farm operation. Our volunteers work directly with the Farm Program Manager, Mia Spaid, on various farm activities. These activities include planting, weeding, harvesting, and maintaining the perennial plantings. Mia guides volunteers to learn about the farm as an integrated system where all the pieces work together.

What tips do you have for new or existing volunteers? The Smart Farm is a working farm, and our volunteer experiences many times involve being outside. We always ask people to come prepared for the weather and bring sunscreen and water. We are also beginning to explore alternative ways people can volunteer, such as for events. We are excited to engage with the community in 2021.

What advice would you give to other nonprofits that need to make use of volunteers?

Be thoughtful in how you pick volunteer activities. These activities should be enriching to the organization but also to the volunteers. Many volunteers use the time to explore an interest and passion, and giving meaningful experiences will help ensure your volunteers feel fulfilled.

Are there any new programs or new initiatives Smart Farm will be implementing for 2021?
The farm is introducing our first market! The market will take place on the farm starting at the end of June, allowing the community to purchase fresh vegetables. All proceeds will help our community by funding our food security and environmental work. To learn more about this opportunity, please follow us on social media and visit our website!

We are looking forward to inviting the community onto the farm to enjoy our harvest.


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