Noticing Neighbors with Daniel Robinson
Some jobs really do make the world go round. Daniel Robinson has one of those jobs. As a Farm Manager at KC Farm School, his work with the organization opens access to fresh produce and gives everyone the opportunity to work the land together.
It’s a key part of the neighborhood, and he had a lot to share about it.
For our readers that might not know, can you give an intro to the KC Farm School?
Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. So our mission is to empower individuals through the land, through hands-on experiences and through finding their selves in that space. We have a CSA that has about 40 members currently.
Hayley: So people can subscribe to get produce from the farm? Daniel: Absolutely.
Hayley: What else are you all doing?
We do programs for children a lot. There’s a program every Saturday called AG Explorers, for four to eight year olds. So they come out to the farm, they do some field work, they do an activity, and then they do an art project so they can leave and take something home.
We also have a camp where older kids can come out throughout the week, through the summer, and then we have adult workshops that we do.
That covers everyone! Daniel:
We want it to. Because really, any way we can get the community to visit the farm and be more involved with their food is a win. That's how we eat, and it’s what we do.
Have you had any meaningful moments recently? Daniel: Oh yeah, all the time. The most meaningful moments happen every time we sit down and break bread. Especially after working the farm, we will prepare food that we harvested and have really cool conversations when we come together.
You can see it in their eyes. You can see it in their bellies. They’re filled and that’s what it’s all about.
Hayley: I saw that you are kicking off your brand new token program this month! What is it for?
So we are excited because we are accepting SNAP benefits for our market this year. And we are also in the Double Up Food Bucks program. So if they spend 2, they get 2. It allows people to pick twice as many fruits and vegetables if they spend with the tokens.
These tokens will really help us combat the inequalities in our food system. That’s what I hope.
That really opens the doors for everyone to have access. Not just food, but healthy food! And you have so many volunteers to help. Are there different organizations that come through, or how does that work?
We've got a lot of individuals that come through and help, a lot of board members, and a lot of times we're getting inquiries from Church of the Resurrection downtown. They come pretty regularly. So does Volunteer KC. We hooked up with them and they have not stopped helping out there ever since, just really helping all over the place. And then people show up on their own, too. Hayley:
This is so cool, I actually just got to interview Tiffany Buckley from Volunteer KC! I didn’t know you all were connected, it makes sense. Just good people helping good people. If somebody wanted to come out and volunteer their time, what are some examples of ways that they could help give back with you guys? Daniel: So you can always pot plants with us. We're always transferring plants to the places that need help. Also, there’s tons of work for weeding. We always need help weeding.
It’s also just a healing experience to be out here. You can learn a lot about people. And sometimes, it’s just you. In that moment being one on one with the plants. Hayley: That’s a good point. Working the land together is valuable. Daniel: We will be planting, we will be watering, we will be building a cupboard for our washstand here pretty soon. There are endless possibilities at the farm, and our volunteers are the reason we're able to do what we're able to do.
There’s something I’d really like to ask your perspective on. Access to food has been strained for many in this past year. I’m guessing you’ve seen that. During your work at the farm, is there any goodness you've seen that's uplifted you? Daniel:
I see so much of it. This is the most fulfilled I've felt at any job I've ever had. And I've had dozens of jobs, you know, in my career. But there was one moment I pictured immediately when you said that. So sometimes, families will come up together on Saturdays. And we've got this one family and that came up with the mom, the older sister who's like 12 or 13, and the kid who's actually in the AG Explorers program. But the teenager loved it so much, and we had so many volunteers from Volunteer KC there, that the family actually felt comfortable enough with leaving the older child here with us when they took their AG Explorer home. So for the rest of the day, their child was volunteering with us.
The fact that her mom felt so comfortable having her daughter here, and that she wanted to stay and just give us her service… it made my heart smile, you know what I mean?
Hayley: Oh yeah. That says a lot about how much people trust you. And what a nice experience for her, too!
Is there anything that you would like to spread the word about?
On top of our CSA, we have a market every Wednesday where anyone can come and pay what you please. I really recommend coming to the market, it’s from 2-6 on Wednesdays. And I want to thank you for reaching out and wanting to tell our story. I hope sharing this helps spread the farm experience to everyone.