Planting a Promising Future
Food, family, and community are motivating forces for Trisha Pérez Kennealy, the founder and owner of The Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, Massachusetts, and chair of the Friedman School’s Board of Advisors.
A commitment to sustainable small-scale agriculture has long been a guiding principle of the inn’s restaurant, which features fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats from nearby farms on its menu.
Those same values also inspired a recent gift Pérez Kennealy made with her husband, Mike, to create the Trisha Pérez Kennealy and Mike Kennealy Directorship at the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. A program of the Friedman School, New Entry helps small-scale beginning farmers establish and grow their businesses.
The Kennealys’ generous funding will support leaders such as Jennifer Hashley, AG05, the current director of New Entry, to ensure that they have the time and resources to build creative and sustainable programming to increase the project’s local and national impact.
“The beauty of New Entry,” said Pérez Kennealy, “is that it’s not just conceptual. This is a working farm, training a new generation of farmers—including many recent immigrants—right here in our region.”
New Entry also embraces goals that matter deeply to Pérez Kennealy and her family: expanding access to nutritious food, supporting local agriculture, “and helping all of us grow a deeper appreciation for the food on our tables and the farmers who put it there,” she said.
Pérez Kennealy, who spent her early childhood in Puerto Rico before moving to Lexington, left a successful career as an investment banker to train at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in London. As a chef and mother of three, she is committed to helping local farmers thrive. “I support New Entry because it helps people develop the agricultural skills that are so needed in our community,” she said.
New Entry, based in Beverly, Massachusetts, strengthens regional food systems by training a new generation of farmers to produce food that is nutritious, culturally connected, and accessible. The program started in 1988 to help immigrants and refugees find farming opportunities on three farms in Dracut, Massachusetts.
In 2005, the program grew to include World PEAS (People Enhancing Agricultural Sustainability) Food Hub, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that provides a reliable market for New Entry farmers as well as offers fresh food to underserved communities. In 2007, its mission expanded to meet a rapidly growing interest in small-scale food production among beginning farmers of all backgrounds.
New Entry programs have continued to evolve and now serve local, statewide, and national audiences through training and technical assistance in both vegetable and livestock farming.