Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) counts Melanie Reed, Cookie Till, Leonard Varvaro, and all who are part of Reed’s Farm among its valued industry partners. The district formally recognized its ever-evolving relationship with the farm by naming Reed’s as the 2022 Business Partner of the Year.
Since the farm’s inception a couple of summers ago, it has made an impact on Atlantic County, especially through its agricultural and vocational education programming. As noted on its website, the farm works to “engage local students with a focus on introductory plant science, culinary and nutritional education, environmental sustainability, and mental well-being. Classes are modified to serve different age groups and abilities, with a particular emphasis on working with individuals enrolled in supportive classes due to cognitive or behavioral disorders.”
Everyone is invited to spend time at the farm, which boasts a cafe and market, a local artists’ co-op, an animal sanctuary, and a Garden of Peace and Unity where global seeds from war torn countries are planted and tended to. Whether through visits with the animals, artists’ showcases, or classes on everything from crafts to agriculture, Reed’s Farm is dedicated to enriching the lives of its community members.
To support such vibrancy, Reed’s Farm has enlisted the help of ACIT students and teachers across various career programs, who have helped build greenhouse raised garden tables and sheds for the animals. Other students have secured work-based learning opportunities at the farm through summer internships serving the operational aspects of the farm. One student who started in the summer of 2021 was offered a permanent position at the farm and is currently employed there.
ACIT is now working with Reed’s Farm on the Coastal Cousins Heritage Garden, which aims to expand the legacy of crop seeds whose ancestry dates back to the beginnings of the slave trade routes. Students will learn about farming traditions from historical, science, and humanities perspectives as they grow from seed to harvest the very same vegetation that lines the eastern shores.
ACIT administrators appreciate the innovative thought processes and consistent presence of Reed’s Farm and its dedicated staff on district Advisory Boards, which have led to such unique projects and countless other student opportunities.