Westtown School Welcomes Christa Barfield, urban female farmer of FarmerJawn Agriculture

Westtown School and Christa Barfield, owner and operator of FarmerJawn Agriculture, are proud to announce a new partnership. Effective January 1, 2023, Barfield will lease 123 acres of the school’s campus to create an organic farm with an unconventional model.

Westtown School’s 600-acre campus allows students abundant opportunities for learning, exploration, play, and stewardship. The campus is a vast educational laboratory for the earth sciences, replete with many species of flora and fauna. It features a 14-acre lake, a frog pond, an arboretum, playing fields and courts, an organic student farm, a wooded cross country course, and more. Stewardship of the land and the educational potential of Westtown’s 600 acres is a consistent theme echoed by many constituents. This intentional work is prioritized in the school’s Strategic Vision alongside a commitment to fostering equity, access, inclusion, and belonging.

A portion of the school’s land has been leased for farming use since 1996. Upon the announcement of the current farmer’s retirement, the school began a search for a community-minded partner with a commitment to a reciprocal, regenerative, and restorative relationship with the land. The school created a Farmland Task Force and commenced a months-long search for a mission-aligned partner. Head of School Chris Benbow shares, “The task force was impressed by Barfield’s experience, approach, and strong alignment with the school’s mission and Strategic Vision and is pleased to invite her to campus as our new partner.”

Barfield is a dynamic entrepreneur and a passionate advocate for healthy, organic food, and regenerative farming practices with a vision to restore access to farmland and farming for Black farmers. She currently operates two Philadelphia-area businesses, FarmerJawn Agriculture and Viva Leaf Tea Co. Her organization includes a retail and garden learning center in Northwest Philadelphia, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) business, and five acres of farmland in Elkins Park. Barfield shares, “FarmerJawn is excited to expand our regional network to Westtown School to create a just food system that perpetuates regenerative and organic health for people and the planet.”

The land around Westtown has been under cultivation for hundreds of years, starting with the Lenni-Lenape, and later through the farm and educational programs at Westtown School, as well as the current produce farm and market.

Barfield will farm the land and use it to stock the farm market already located on the premises. The farm market will operate under a new name and will eventually include a CSA, organic prepared foods, and other locally grown and sourced products. The remaining acreage will become a “food and farming incubator,” comprising a host of cooperative farms operated by a cohort of Black farmers who will be chosen and trained through the FarmerJawn and Friends Foundation Fund, Barfield’s non-profit organization. This incubator model will offer educational development opportunities and a “pathway to entrepreneurship” via sales at the farm market.

About Westtown: Westtown School, a Quaker, PreK-12, co-ed, day and boarding school, offers a robust curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, service, and social action. Westtown School challenges its students to realize their individual gifts, preparing them to become stewards and leaders of a better world. www.westtown.edu

About FarmerJawn Agriculture: A champion of organic methods of growing, Christa Barfield, 34, is a former healthcare worker turned urban female farmer based in Philadelphia. In 2018, Barfield created FarmerJawn Agriculture and Viva Leaf Tea Co., which she defines as “earth-born brands,” to reintroduce farming into the lifestyles of urban people, which helps individuals improve their health by providing knowledge regarding where their food comes from. Learn more about FarmerJawn by visiting https://www.farmerjawnphilly.com.

Author Sam Amadio