Though the mission of Brookhollow's Barnyard is not philanthropic, Farm Manager Tina Krawczyk's innovative practices meet three of the United Nations' sustainable development goals. Specifically, in its daily operations, Brookhollow's Barnyard strives to eliminate hunger, help educate children in the community, and provide decent work for the youth.
Thomas F. SanFilippo
Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)
Sustainability goal #2 endeavors to put an end to hunger. Though Farmer Tina does not grow mass foods at Brookhollow's Barnyard, she does garden on a small scale and is in the process of establishing allotment gardens. Farmer Tina intends to supply plots located on her farm to the townspeople, who in turn would be able to utilize the plots to grow crops of their choice to sustain their families. She is also working toward hosting a weekly farmer's market at Brookhollow's Barnyard, where she would invite vendors from the area to sell their freshly grown products at affordable prices. Farmer Tina "truly believe[s] that if all of us have a little garden or buy locally, it would help many people to be more sustainable." It is also worth noting that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Farmer Tina facilitated a farm drive-through. She charged $10.00 per car for this activity, and then donated half of each daily admission to a charity, most oftentimes focusing on food pantries much in need of supplies.
Sustainability goal #4 endeavors to provide quality education for all. Farmer Tina is a shining example of a woman in the agricultural industry who makes an effort to foster the education of the youth. Her initial life goal was to become a teacher, but she quickly recognized that she was not built to teach within the confines of a classroom. She expressed that she is a "hands-on girl, and would like to provide other options for kids who learn in a different way." One specific educational program she is in the process of launching is called the 'Seedling Program'. Each of ten child participants will meet at the farm once per week for ten weeks, where Farmer Tina will supply them with a 4x6 gardening plot, seeds, and gardening tools. The program is intended to encourage the love of growing, eating, and sharing vegetables, all while teaching the children to independently seed, grow, water, weed, and harvest their plots. At the program's end, the children will take their crop yield, inclusive of squash, tomatoes, peas, carrots, beets, cucumbers, poppy and herbs, home to enjoy with their families. Farmer Tina also offers a summer camp program, which she states is very hands-on for the children. The camps emphasize more of the learning of animals; the kids interact with the farm animals daily, where they are encouraged to touch them and love them. They are taught about the animals' feeding and sheltering needs, all via doing, as Farmer Tina believes "kids should learn, but they should learn by doing. You will remember a lot longer if you learn by doing as opposed to being told." Finally, Farmer Tina also utilizes her Facebook platform to educate. As her followers scroll the Brookhollow's Barnyard Facebook feed, they are continually exposed to photographs, videos, and information provided for their learning pleasure. In recent weeks, Farmer Tina posted on the praying mantis, the birth and development of bunnies, and the importance of milkweed in housing and feeding monarch butterflies.
Sustainability goal #8 states that we must create decent and productive job opportunities, particularly for the youth. Farmer Tina is an advocate for hiring youth, particularly high school and college-aged students where she can. She has employed several pre-veterinary students in the past, who will apply for jobs because they are interested in obtaining experience with animals. These student employees will typically perform husbandry tasks, such as animal feeding and cleaning, around the farm. Farmer Tina also hires for basic cashier type work during peak seasons, such as when the farm is selling pumpkins and Christmas trees and hires two to three high school or college-aged students to supervise the children in the summer camps. Farmer Tina has also gone out of her way to hire intellectually disabled individuals who otherwise have difficulty securing employment.
Farmer Tina Krawczyk professes that she is truly a 'farm girl', despite having earned a degree in history. She states that Brookhollow's Barnyard was established first as a horse farm, but after deciding she did not wish to continue in that direction, Farmer Tina bought pumpkins to sell and utilized her tractor to drive farm visitors up to see the animals. The inspiration for her petting farm stemmed from a visit to California approximately 28 years ago; it was there she first saw goats traveling the farm overhead on ramps and ultimately re-created this vision for New Jerseyans to enjoy. She also provides a unique experience for children at the farm, allowing them to feed the animals carrot shavings provided to them in tiny buckets at the time of admission. Children are able to do so only utilizing the shovels that come attached to the buckets in order to prevent any animal bite injuries. Farmer Tina explained, "I didn't come at this the right way. I came at it the backward way. I just made it work! I love kids, I love animals. Usually, they have fun together. I wanted families to be able to spend time together outside, as memories made outside are priceless. I wanted them to enjoy some downtime, to get back to where they came from."
Brookhollow's Barnyard has had a positive impact not only on the small community of Boonton Township, New Jersey but has demonstrated further reaching impacts as well. As part of the agritourism industry, Brookhollow's Barnyard at face value has provided recreational activity and entertainment for community members looking to get outside and enjoy farm life. Financing the farm, and thus being able to rescue and house animals, is Farmer Tina Krawczyk's primary mission. In her efforts to maintain her farm, she has taken innovative initiatives that ultimately achieve sustainable development goals #2, #4 and #8. Farmer Tina has successfully educated the youth of her community via her summer camp programs, and the long term effects of educational programs soon to roll out, such as the Seedling Program, will undoubtedly be recognized. Farmer Tina has provided husbandry, cashier, and counselor employment opportunities for those in her community, with a special focus on the youth and the intellectually disabled. Once her allotment gardens and Farmer's Market are underway, the community of Boonton Township and the surrounding areas will naturally become more sustainable as people eat off the land and buy locally. In the meantime, due to the unforeseeable COVID-19 pandemic, Farmer Tina has developed innovative ways to give back to her community. Charging for participation in a drive-through farm, and more recently for personalized happy birthday messages to children from the farm animals, allows Farmer Tina to donate proceeds to soup kitchens and food banks in need. The evidence of those impacts is clear, especially during a time when so many people in our community are out of work and in need of food to feed their families.
Though the mission of Brookhollow's Barnyard is not philanthropic, the interview with Farmer Tina Krawczyk revealed that the good she does in the world benefits her business financially. Offering allotment gardens to the townspeople on which to grow their crops benefits both the growers and Farmer Tina, as she will take in the revenue each 'rental' plot generates. Similarly, by hosting a farmer's market, Farmer Tina would likely take a percentage from the sales of each individual vendor, thereby benefitting her business. Though she educates the youth through her 'Seedling Program' and summer camps, these programs are also intended to raise revenue as Farmer Tina charges a per head fee for each participant. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, $5.00 of the $10.00 drive-through admission fee was kept by Farmer Tina to offset her costs and assist in the maintenance of her farm during a time when she cannot offer the farm's typical revenue-generating recreational activities for children and families.
Farmer Tina's innovation also promotes the hiring of employees, particularly during high volume seasons. Though she may not be able to retain all employees as peak seasons close, the bond Farmer Tina has established and works to maintain with the community ensures that there will never be a shortage of high school and college-aged students looking to work alongside her.
Farmer Tina in part maintains Brookhollow's Barnyard in an effort to preserve open space in Boonton Township. She shared that Brookhollow's Barnyard takes up three of the "Four Corners" in Boonton Township and that keeping up her farm ensures that those three corners will remain open space. During the interview, she stated "New Jersey was once the Garden State. Now it's the mega-million mansion state. I would like to keep 4 Corners the way it is." Preserving open space is of crucial benefit to society and the environment, as preserved lands increase land values and property taxes, attract residents and businesses, bolster the economy, and preserve the ecosystem.
Further, Brookhollow's Barnyard is a community staple in Boonton Township, New Jersey. Farmer Tina's petting zoo, programs, camps, and holiday festivities draw children and families to the farm, creating an environment where community members can come together for a shared positive experience. She encourages the townspeople to get involved, and whether it be via attending a camp, maintaining an allotment garden, or cutting down a Christmas tree, the community involvement betters our society as a whole.
Tina Krawcyzk, Farm Manager
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Boonton Township, New Jersey, US
Business Website: http://www.brookhollowsbarnyard.com
Year Founded: 2009
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Brookhollow's Barnyard is a small family-run petting farm located in picturesque Boonton Township, New Jersey. In order to generate income, this working farm provides recreational activities for the enjoyment of visitors, inclusive of the petting farm, birthday parties, field trips, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, zombie paintball hayrides, a cut-your-own Christmas tree field, an Easter egg hunt, and camps and programs for children. Though the mission of the farm is not philanthropic in nature, Farm Manager Tina Krawczyk's innovative practices meet three of the United Nations' sustainable development goals. Specifically, in its daily operations, Brookhollow's Barnyard strives to eliminate hunger, help educate children in the community, and provide decent work for the youth.