November 27, 2018
Our Team, Our Passions
Meet Matt Kalas, Hopewell’s new farm manager, who joined our staff in August. You could say that farming is in his blood.
“I grew up on a dairy farm with 125 cows in North Bloomfield,” said Matt. “Now that my dad has retired from farming, my two brothers and I grow corn, soy, and wheat. We’ve got 300 acres, about half of which is used for hunting and fishing.”
After 22 years at KraftMaid, Matt was looking for a change and a new challenge. He has immersed himself in learning all aspects of the farm and the Hopewell community. As part of the treatment program, resident work crews assume the major responsibilities for daily operations. “What’s new for me is putting the residents’ needs at the forefront of decision making. If they don’t benefit from something we’re doing on the farm, we may have to do things differently. We really want residents to be more involved in work crews, but the most important thing is to enjoy what they’re doing.”
He continued, “We have made some changes to make it easier for residents to participate. We had a small flock of sheep - the lambs are cute but as sheep mature they tend to avoid people. We sold the sheep and purchased some miniature goats and residents love them! We have traditionally used draft horses to help with farm work but we no longer have enough work for them to stay healthy. Residents were afraid of them because they are so big. We found new homes for the draft horses and are bringing in smaller horses or ponies, which will be easier for residents to work with. The pigs have moved to the barn and the residents are finding them easier to deal with.”
Residents enjoy working with baby animals, but they know that they are not pets. Some are raised for food, such as our Belted Galloway cows, which have been iconic at Hopewell. According to Matt, Belted Galloway are slow to mature and their meat is not as flavorful. Over time we will substitute Angus beef cattle to provide better quality meat.
Matt also oversees the gardens, which provide produce for the Hopewell kitchen. Residents enjoy working together in the gardens, harvesting and using the vegetables. Expanded gardens and more types of produce are planned for the spring.
Maple sugaring, a favorite winter activity, will continue. “We have a great sugar house and we will still produce Hopewell’s famous maple syrup, just on a smaller scale. It will be for sale to the public at the Hopewell Farm and Craft Market,” said Matt.
Matt is very pleased that he joined the Hopewell staff. “All day, I get to do what I love – farming – and working with residents is new for me. I am impressed with how they want to learn and how much they enjoy working as a team.” At the end of a long hard day, you would think it’s time for a nap, but not for Matt. He goes home to his family, second job and first love. . . working on his family farm.
Thanks, Matt, for joining our team and brining your passion and inspiration to Hopewell.Back to Blog