Project Evolution: Freedom Valley Farms
By Errika Gonzalez
Freedom Valley Farms is part of Gary “Chops” Polk’s new project called Project Evolution which has one very simple mission: to provide sustainable produce and nourishment one community at a time across America. The organization lives by the motto that “No man, woman, or child should go hungry." Freedom Valley Farms “is a self-sustaining, non-profit, interactive farm/ranch." After nearly ten years in the works, he has been able to get four farms up and running, but this is just the beginning.
Chops is a Niagara Falls native who has always dedicated himself to helping others & served for our country. He is a four-tour marine, as well as a combat purple heart veteran, but it doesn’t end there. He is sacrificing his own needs to put everything he has into Freedom Valley Farms. He currently resides in Tennessee where he lives off the land, which results in no costs of living, so he can put more into Freedom Valley Farms. He states “I sacrifice the greater good for the people. I can’t save the world, but I can sacrifice."
To ensure the everyone has access to proper nourishment and sustainable produce, Freedom Valley Farms “works for the people, with the people, to provide for the people." Completely run by volunteers and members of the community, they ensure that there are crops available 365 days a year. The three different methods of growing are all natural, greenhouse, and hydroponics (growing plants with a mineral nutrient solution). All the produce that is grown on the farms are then donated. Local food banks, community centers, and families in need are all recipients of the fresh produce. So far, the four farms have been able to produce a variety of peppers, tomatoes, beans, as well as many more vegetables such as kale, squash, and carrots.
In order to help achieve their mission the main goal is to create facilities across the United States that are off the grid and do not require the amenities of water, electricity, etc. Chops hopes to have the farms achieve full self-sustaining status so labor and funding can be focused on planting the crops. Each farm varies in size, the more acres equal the more crops that can be produced, which results in more people receiving fresh produce and proper nourishment. Not only will the farms provide food, but it will also have an educational purpose for members of the community. Chops hopes to have summer camps at the farms where children and young adults can learn about the different crops and be taught real world skills.
Freedom Valley Farms would not be where it is today without Chops’ continued sacrifice, the community, and volunteers. He is currently in the process of obtaining more land in Texas to continue expanding Freedom Valley Farms. Please check out their Facebook page and Instagram account to follow along and see how you can help this amazing organization.