ServiceNet’s Prospect Meadow Farm Groundbreaking Celebrated Grant for New Vocational Training and Production Center
ServiceNet’s Prospect Meadow Farm held a groundbreaking ceremony this past Tuesday to celebrate renovations made possible by a $595,000 grant from the state’s Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development.
ServiceNet’s Prospect Meadow Farm—a therapeutic vocational farming program for individuals with developmental disability, autism, or brain injury—provides employment support and meaningful daily activities to 80+ participants, many of whom also have mental health challenges. The grant will transform the farm’s original 3,200 square foot residential farmhouse into a modern training facility, significantly upgrading and expanding its vocational training and production capacity.
The groundbreaking ceremony included remarks by Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, Mike Kennealy; state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton; state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton; Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra; and Hatfield Town Moderator Joe Lavallee. Shawn Robinson, director of Prospect Meadow Farm, and Sue Stubbs, CEO of ServiceNet, also spoke at the event, where many community leaders, farm staff, farmhands, and family members were present.
Since the farm opened in 2011, hundreds of farmhands have done meaningful agricultural work, received a fair wage, contributed to the local food economy, and been supported in their personal and professional growth as they further explored employment in a variety of workplaces.
“The population you’re serving, the access to opportunity you’re providing, it’s just so good,” said Mike Kennealy. “It’s good for this region. It’s great for the state, and great for the people we serve. And it’s truly inspirational to get out in our communities and see these dollars put to work in such an amazing way.”
Farm updates made possible by the grant will include the creation of a fully equipped commercial-style production kitchen and food packaging center; expanded classrooms and office areas; a large, dedicated space for the farm’s growing pre-vocational program; a carpentry workshop; new bathrooms; upgraded parking areas; and an outdoor covered pavilion that will function as a work and gathering area.
“You continue to astound us with this glorious venture,” said state Sen. Jo Comerford. “I remember coming here for the first time and leaving feeling like the world was just a little bit more just, a little bit kinder, a little fuller of opportunity, a little more driven by equity in the right kind of way. So that the state has invested in this—growing and expanding what is possible in this already unbelievable spot—is just more good!”
The groundbreaking also marked the kickoff for the farm’s “Growing for Good” campaign, which is seeking to raise $100,000 in additional funding to ensure the renovations are completed for optimal growth and flexibility over time, preparing the farm for decades more of supporting farmhands to live their lives to the fullest.