Illustration: Joel Kimmel

The Family Farm

The Rooneys responded to hunger in their Connecticut town by growing food for those in need. 

Years ago, when Kathy Rooney ’81 was involved in efforts to assist families experiencing food insecurity near her hometown of Wilton, Connecticut, she noticed that much of the food being collected wasn’t of the highest nutritional value, and was often canned. Around the same time, she was part of an interfaith group that was helping a Syrian refugee family resettle in the area, and she witnessed how hard it was for them to get enough food. When she went searching for solutions to both problems, her son Brian, then in the seventh grade and now a junior at BC, asked a powerful question. “He said, well, why not us?” Rooney recalled. “Why don’t we try to find a way to do this?” 

Taking inspiration from a priest in nearby Bridgeport who used parish property for an urban garden, they created one of their own in Wilton with a goal of growing produce to help address the area’s food shortage. They harvested their first crop of vegetables in 2016, distributing the food to families in need, food pantries, and other local organizations. They’ve repeated the process every year since—this year they grew a total of 750 pounds of produce.

The garden is a true family project, with father Kevin, daughter Brigid ’17, and son Brendan all participating. For his part, Brian is majoring in environmental studies and plans to pursue a career that involves farming, conservation, and maintaining biodiversity. “It really got me interested in agriculture and environmental issues,” he said. “Just being able to see a piece of land…transformed into something that can produce food for humans, but it’s still very much a part of that environment, was really interesting.”