Wapato farm serves its community

Erick Peterson/For the Capital Press Campbell Farm staff and volunteers Anthony Farias, Steven Linde, Carmen Pimms, Larena Van Pelt, Jessica Carranza and Dionna Pimms gather on the grounds of a garden where kids learn to farm.

WAPATO, Wash. — Nonprofit Campbell Farm seeks to nourish and instruct needy people in the Yakima Valley while providing a mission-retreat center for visitors, according to Carman Pimms, the farm’s director.

“You reap what you sow,” Pimms said. “I’ve always believed that, and that’s what people learn here.”

Her staff, and workers from nearby Gilbert Orchards, maintain the 40-acre farm alongside a regular crew of around 40 children and adult volunteers.

They are assisted by visiting mission groups that typically range in number from 15 to 20 but sometimes as many as 60.

The workers perform farm tasks and learn many skills, the director said. They plant, raise and harvest vegetables, and they pick fruit.

Youngsters also learn how to can peaches, salsa, green beans, pickles, corn and other foods.

Volunteers also go to other Yakima Valley farms, such as Rasmussen Farm and Inaba Produce, to glean excess produce.

Pimms said this is important work, and necessary in the area, as there are many area families who are poor.

Still, Campbell Farm does more than feed people; it educates them, she said.

“We’re showing kids that you don’t need to go to the store for the foods that you need,” she said.

She and other staff guide young people in self-sufficiency. They work hard, and they pick up farm skills and values along the way. They discover that “foods from the land are the best,” she said.

Larena Van Pelt, a volunteer, is one of the many believers in the farm.

This is a community-based program, a nonprofit that does important work in our community,” she said. “It’s a positive place that does great work for kids.”

She has volunteered for years and even has her own children help.

“When my kids come here, they get to meet other kids from different places. They learn different perspectives,” she said.

Life on the Yakama Indian Reservation, where the farm is, can lead to an insular life, she says. Through association with Campbell Farm, her children meet people who have diverse ideas and experiences.

So she said that she is glad for Campbell Farm, for her family and for the many families that also benefit from it.

“This is a very special place,” she said.

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