The first YMCA Freight Farm in the country was formally inaugurated Wednesday at Haverhill’s Gateway Academy.
The 40 by 8-foot shipping container, adorned in bright colors with the message “The Y Feeds Kids” on the side, is a collaboration between the Haverhill Y and Haverhill Public Schools. Inside the hydroponic farm, behind the school’s new location at the former St. James School, students learn the origin of food and healthy eating options. YMCA Regional Executive Director Tracy Fuller thanked sponsor Beth Israel Lahey Health, the city, and Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta for not only welcoming the concept but going the extra mile to make it work.
“I’m appreciative that Dr. Marotta did not ask if we could find a school to place the Freight Farm, but which school would be the best location. I am so grateful for the partnership we have with Haverhill Public Schools,” she said.
She called the farm “a teaching tool to help students learn about local food systems, sustainable agriculture, biology, chemistry, business and other STEM topics.
Fuller said Beth Israel Director of Community Relations Christine Healey kicked off the project when she asked the Haverhill YMCA if the organization was interested in a Freight Farm. Beth Israel, which also owns Anna Jaques Hospital of Newburyport and Haverhill Medical Offices, paid $165,000 for the farm, which covered its $150,000 expense and part of the installation. Electrical service at the school was another $30,000, which was covered by city money secured by Community Development Division Director Andrew K. Herlihy.
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