Young Family Farm has contributed 1.1 million meals to R.I. Food Bank in addition to donations to local pantry
BOSTON — Tyler and Karla Young of Young Family Farm in Little Compton, RI are being recognized by The Good News Experiment, a Massachusetts-based initiative that honors community innovators with stories that are publicly distributed through blog, social media and traditional media formats.
The Youngs, who started Young Family Farm in 1997 with a strawberry stand, are being recognized for their exceptional commitment to providing wholesome produce to their retail and wholesale customers and donating “seconds,” an industry term for excess or slightly flawed produce, to families in need. Young Family Farm donations are made through partnerships with a food pantry in Little Compton, RI and Rhode Island Community Food Bank, which recently informed the family that their farm’s dozen years of contributions to the organization has reached the equivalent of more than 1.1 million donated meals.
“Tyler and our friends at Young Family Farm have been steadfast supporters of the Rhode Island Community Food Bank,” said Andrew Schiff, Food Bank CEO. “They are committed to finding ways for local farmers to help our neighbors in need access healthy, fresh produce. We are truly grateful for their efforts.”
“The way I look at it, farmers don’t have a lot of money in the bank and so to give back, we work with folks with food,” said Tyler Young, a farmer whose roots in the industry date back to his English ancestors who settled in Little Compton. “You hear about the number of children in need of food here in Rhode Island, with one in five children having only one meal or less a day. How do you run a society like that? So we donate give potatoes, turnips and winter squash. We start working with the Food Bank every September and they usually come and pick up six pallets of produce at a time.”
Since its creation in 1997, the Young Family Farm has grown into a 300 acre property that features 100 acres of potatoes, 50 acres of sweet corn and rows of other vegetables including squash, kale, Swiss chard, turnips, peppers and pumpkins — to name just a few — alongside vibrant orchards of pears, peaches, apples and nectarines. Karla runs the family’s retail stand and “pick-your-own” offerings in the strawberry fields and orchards, while Tyler runs the farm’s wholesale operation, a business that provides fresh produce to a dozen regional Stop & Shop stores, a Shaw’s Supermarket in Middletown, RI, several stores in Cape Cod and other small businesses throughout New England. In addition, the farm delivers potatoes to Boston for repacking and Johnston, RI for peeling and processing.
“When the customers come and they see all of the fresh vegetables, they might not identify the difference between a ‘cuke' and a ‘zuke,’” Karla Young said. “But then they bring it home and they eat it and it’s fresh and they say, ‘I can’t believe how good it tastes.’ That makes us feel good. And if Tyler is out and about, he teaches them about agriculture. They leave with not only a good flavor taste, but a good appreciation for local farming.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming harvests on the farm, the Youngs said local customers can look forward to their second consecutive season of pick-your-own strawberries, which peak on the farm in mid-June. Summer vegetables and fruits will be ever-changing in the retail stand’s wooden shelves of colorful produce. Karla said Massachusetts and Rhode Island customers annually delight in apple picking that continues on their farm in October, when most other New England orchards, which are typically located farther north, are closed for picking. The Young’s apple picking season will feature 1,300 apple trees, including an additional 60 trees of Macoun, Pink Lady and Red Cameo varieties this year. The Youngs are also planning their signature Bluegrass festival in October, complete with live music, pumpkin picking, face painting for children and “Ty’s Fries” — Tyler’s popular red potatoes fried in peanut oil. The weekend event has drawn up to 3,000 people in the past with ideal weather, the Youngs said.
The Good News Experiment was created through a partnership between Boston’s Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE) Founder and President Monalisa Smith and writer Andrea Cale, author of the novel The Corn Husk Experiment. Prior to their present positions, the women worked together in a public affairs department in Boston. As part of their partnership today, half of The Good News Experiment honorees are identified by Smith and recognized for their support of families affected by violence, a service area close to the heart of Smith, who lost her nephew to Boston street violence before creating MJE in 2010. The other half of the honorees come from a range of service areas, with Cale leveraging her background in journalism to follow up on incoming nominations from the public before interviewing, writing and sharing the stories on community innovators.
“This month, we’re pleased to raise awareness about those working to address hunger needs in New England communities,” said Smith. “We’re thankful to the Youngs for their commitment to meeting basic human needs for New England children and adults alike through providing them with healthy foods.”
For more information on Young Family Farm please visit http://youngfamilyfarm.com/. For more information on Young Designs, a Boston flower business created by the Youngs’ daughters, please visit https://www.ydflowers.com/. For more information on the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, please visit rifoodbank.org. For more information on Mothers for Justice and Equality programs and annual national conference, please visit mothersforjusticeandequality.org. To follow The Good News Experiment stories or nominate an individual for his or her inspirational work, please visit andreacalebooks.com/blog for more information.