The Mort Brooks Memorial Farm at Awbury Arboretum was established in 2000 by Mort’s wife, Norma Brooks, and her friends from the Co-op. After Mort’s death in 1999, Co-op members gave generously to a memorial fund honoring his many contributions to the Co-op, most notably as a long-time board member, and from that fund grew the original garden.
Long-time Co-op staffer and gardener extraordinaire Steve Hebden was the farm’s first manager. He oversaw the cleaning up of the plot and planned and supervised the first year’s crop. A Farm Committee was established to make major decisions about the direction of the farm. During the first several years, committee members and a string of managers (paid and unpaid) provided all of the farm’s labor.
As the farm matured, it began to sell produce at our original Mt. Airy store. Since then, the farm and Co-op have partnered on many projects. The farm now sells at the Headhouse Square farmers market, as well as to both Weavers Way stores.
As the farm has expanded production, it has also expanded its educational mission. With the help of Weavers Way Community Programs, students from many area schools have visited the farm and gotten their hands dirty planting, weeding, harvesting, tasting and learning about where healthy food comes from. Hundreds of children visit the farm every year.
The Mort Brooks Farm is always busy with community participation. It hosts seasonal apprenticeships and internships for people who want to learn about small-scale, urban, organic growing methods. Weavers Way members can fulfill their work hours at the farm and volunteers are always welcome to lend a hand.