Inspiring Wellness: Re-Vision Urban Farm
Helping people to recover from homelessness takes more than shelter. At Re-Vision House and Re-Vision Urban Farms, women and their children are inspired to be healthy. Through wraparound services, nutritious foods, job training, and opportunities to connect with the community, Re-Vision offers a unique model that was recently named one of the Ten Best Urban Farms by Natural Home Magazine.
Jonathan Scott considers himself a greens guy. He loves okra grown at the Re-Vision Urban Farm in Boston, MA, where he is President/CEO. Matt Kotchka, Farm Manager, prefers sweet potatoes because they are nutrient dense, easy to grow and taste delicious.
Re-Vision House is a shelter for pregnant women and mothers with children. Together with the adjacent Urban Farm, it comprises one of twenty Victory Programs and was recently named one of the Top Ten Best Urban Gardens in Natural Homes Magazine.
“From day one,” says Jonathan, “I wanted to develop an agency that took in everybody. Victory Programs has a philosophy that no one should be turned away. We are finding whatever ways we can to inspire people back to health, not just to survive, but to thrive.”
Re-Vision House provides long-term housing for up to 25 women and their families. Most women stay in the program for one to two years as they wait for permanent housing. In addition to case management and wraparound services, Re-Vision House is teaching women to thrive in their community.
“The farm not only produces healthy food, but it is also a training center where women can work, become part of the community, get paid for internships and learn important life skills as well as being a farm that sells food to the community.”
The farm grows seasonal vegetables, keeps hives to produce honey, and maintains a tilapia fish farm. Products from the farm are given to shelter residents as well as to other local shelters, sold at a reduced price to the community, and sold at full price through community supported agriculture (CSA) shares.
Matt Kotchka talks about Re-Vision as a transformative experience for women who work there. “We had a woman come here. She was living under a bridge before she arrived, had a baby and came to the shelter. She was looking to stay away from people and just grow food, so we encouraged her to grow an herb garden and write articles about her garden in our newsletter. As she became more excited, she started teaching other women and volunteers about what she knew. She eventually lead volunteer groups and transitioned from being reclusive to outgoing,” explains Mark.
Re-Vision worked with over 500 volunteers from the community last year. “Our goal with every group is to show people how food is grown in a sustainable manner and to show people the inequities around food access in our community, and issues around homelessness. Everyone shares their experience and changes.”
Re-Vision House has grown from a triple-decker house and small garden in the 90’s to a substantial program with a “triple bottom line.” Laurie Webster, Urban Farm Development Manager, speaks about the program. “We work across many different angles, teaching people about income, how to eat well, how to communicate. There are so many places to gain inspiration. You need to inspire people to live well and be healthy.”
In the near future, Re-Vision House and Re-Vision Urban Farm partner with Project Place, which provides a structured three-month job-training program. Re-Vision House will fund an employment specialist from Project Place to work with 22 women and provide wraparound employment services. In exchange, Project Place will open up their job-training program to women from Re-Vision House. The Farm will also provide internships to clients from Project Place.
Re-Vision Urban Farm is growing women into mothers, babies into children, and providing important healthy food choices for a community facing significant food disparities.
Kotchka says gracefully, “Growing food is my passion. I love food and feel that everyone should have access to the food I love.”
Read the Natural Homes Magazine Article
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