Drew Davis, a 2017 graduate of New Canaan High School, is interning with Grace Farms’ Marketing Communications Team before leaving for the University of Michigan to study business. In this Q & A, she shares some insights with her peers about what she wishes she’d known about Grace Farms before coming here.
Why should I come to Grace Farms? What can Grace Farms mean to me?
Grace Farms is a mecca of opportunities and resources for people of all ages, including high school students, but it is not the same place for everyone. There are so many niches within Grace Farms, that no matter what your interests are, you can nurture them here.
What is Grace Farms?
Grace Farms is more than a building; it is place where change for the better is made. Grace Farms was founded on 5 initiatives: Nature, Arts, Justice, Community, and Faith. Located on an 80-acre preserve, the Nature Initiative makes the preservation of nature and open space and the well being of wildlife a priority at Grace Farms. By providing both structural and exploratory opportunities, visitors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the wildlife and plants native to the area. Meanwhile, the Arts Initiative focuses on inspiring creativity by sponsoring site-specific work and hosting visual, literary, and performance art programming. The Justice Initiative uses a multi-disciplinary approach in working toward its goal of helping society’s most vulnerable groups, with particular attention to human trafficking and gender-based violence. Within the Community Initiative, Grace Farms actively works to create a welcoming environment through a mission to foster meaningful relationships between people from various backgrounds, through the gift of free, open, public space, as well as by supporting the mission of other organizations through space grant partnerships. The final initiative, Faith, promotes interactions between people of different faiths or no faith at all, in the pursuit of collaborating for the common good.
If I am coming to just explore, what should I visit?
One of the best ways to get a lay of the land is to just walk around the River building and stop into the different volumes. In them, are various art installations, such as a beautiful glass piece “Double Glass River” in the Commons and a 108-foot mural in the West Barn by renowned Brazilian artist, Beatriz Milhazes. Grace Farms also has a mile long walking/jogging path to get out and enjoy, and you can take a breather by any of the three picturesque ponds, or the community garden.
Can I use Grace Farms as a place to hang out with my friends?
Yes! Grace Farms has amenities that appeal to everyone. If you are looking for something a little more active, there is a subterranean basketball court equipped with basketballs, volleyballs, and even pickleball equipment, perfect for an impromptu pickup game. If you are looking for something a little more calming, check out the Pavilion. Here, you can purchase a pot of tea and learn about the technique of brewing tea and the culture behind the different blends. On Friday afternoons you can even join in on a tea tasting to experience a flight of flavors.
Can I do school work or study at Grace Farms?
Grace Farms is spacious with a lot of comfortable study space in different environments. It is all enclosed in glass so it is naturally lit which makes you feel better about being stuck inside all day. The Library has a conference table for collaborative work, available desk space, and calming music. The Commons is more appropriate for group or collaborative studying, which large tables on whcih you can spread out and work with friends. You can also always take a study break by going for a walk, playing a quick game, or grabbing some food, all while never leaving the property.
What do I do if I am hungry?
If you are looking to grab a quick snack or even a bite for lunch, the Commons, a community gathering space with fresh food and beverage, is the best place at Grace Farms to refuel. Perfectly accommodating for any dietary restrictions, the Commons offers options ranging from Greek chicken sandwiches, to artisanal salads with vegetables from the garden, to homemade baked goods and pastries. Wash it all down with tea and coffee, or you can just drink the purified tap water, which is always fruit-infused.
Are there events at Grace Farms?
Grace Farms hosts many events that the public is welcomed to join in on. There are regular River Walk tours, in which you can familiarize yourself with the River building and its architecture, tea tastings, as well as a Community Dinner on the third Friday of each month. The Community Dinner is a great combination of live entertainment and food, and is always followed by conversation and informative programming surrounding one of the initiatives listed above. There are also special events such as panel discussions, performances, movie screenings, and holiday specific activities throughout the year. Check out the calendar for more information.
How can I enjoy Grace Farms year round?
Grace Farms offers amazing way to observe all seasons. In the warmer months you can get outside and engage with the wildlife and nature. You can also attend seasonally appropriate events such as barbeques and performances. When it is cold and snowy you can watch the magic of the outside world while cuddled up by one of the fireplaces inside glass walls with clear visibility to the outside.
How can I use Grace Farms/ how can I get involved?
In addition to enjoying Grace Farms as a guest, and finding various uses for the space it provides, you are also welcome to sign up to be a volunteer. Volunteers are integral to daily operations and advancing the Grace Farms mission, and we are thankful for the partnership and offered service. We’ve been told by many of our volunteers that helping out at Grace Farms is not only a great way to give back, but also a fun and informative learning opportunity. Volunteering at Grace Farms may even fulfill some of your volunteer hour requirements. To become a volunteer, please fill out this form.