Isabel McKay and Rick Thompson of Brooks have gifted Half Moon Gardens of Thorndike, a multi-faceted greenhouse operation. The property, along with five years of financial support, is valued at over $1.2 million. Unity College is known as America’s Environmental College in part for its leading-edge approach to experiential learning that features a first-in-the-nation focus on sustainability science. A spring ribbon-cutting celebration is planned.

A Spark for Comprehensive Development

According to Unity College President Stephen Mulkey, the facility will serve as a direct extension of the College’s 225 acre campus on Quaker Hill Road in Unity. The facility will provide the Unity College community with both educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. “Unity College aspires to achieve prominence as among the best environmental colleges in the nation with a focus on sustainability science that includes teaching, research and scholarship that frames its world-class reputation,” Mulkey said. “This gift is a significant step forward for this College as it continues to build the capacity of our students to address the critical sustainability challenges of our time.”

Senior Vice President of External Affairs Melik Khoury praised McKay and Thompson, and pointed to the close symmetry between their values and the direction of the College. “As part of our mission, Unity looks to address the challenges faced by rural agricultural enterprises in New England.  These challenges include energy costs, compensation for agricultural workers, a challenging climate, and sparse population density.  This facility will help us develop and model replicable solutions for these challenges, in addition to maintaining a marketplace presence to serve the community.”  Khoury added that although the idea for the gift came almost a year ago, it took about nine months to craft it. “We all worked hard to ensure this gift accomplishes Izzy’s goals and is a strong asset for the College,” he said.

Serving the Next Generation of Successful Farmers

According to McKay, the next generation of farmers needs an education beyond agriculture.

“Many young farmers do not understand that in addition to delivering their product to market, they also must be business managers and handle a host of market complexities,” McKay said.  “It is important that they understand how to address the administrative, legal, and clerical aspects of their agricultural enterprises. I am confident that by choosing Unity College as the beneficiary of Half Moon Gardens, our young agricultural producers will be trained holistically, and learn from both the practical sense as well as from the business point of view.”

“We are especially pleased that the owners of Half Moon Gardens recognized that Unity College has the ability to use the facility in order to create the kind of programs they envisioned for students and others in the community,” said Martha Nordstrom, Director of Development.  “We are fortunate that the philanthropic interests of Half Moon Gardens align with Unity’s core values of respect, personal and institutional integrity, community engagement and environmental sustainability, and are excited to pursue this extraordinary opportunity.”

Friday, December 13, 2013