Age 32, the Kindness Farm
2021 Prize Winner
Give!Guide: Tell me how your personal experience informed the creation of Kindness Farm. Have you experienced food insecurity before?
Lou Levit: I haven't experienced what I would consider food insecurity myself, but generationally, there's definitely food insecurity in my family and in the culture that I come from. Even two generations back, to my great-grandmother, they're farmers pretty much all the way from there and back, and they all just grew all their own food and lived in a village in the former USSR. So they really just depended on the land and sharing with neighbors. Then with my grandma and my mom, they kind of got away from that in search of a better life. So for me, it's kind of full circle, bringing it back to my family roots of being connected with the land and being able to provide for people from a more stable place.
How were you able to get the farm off the ground so fast?
I've been an entrepreneur for the last 12 years. I dropped out of college when I was 20 and started my first business at that time with my ex-partner. We started from nothing. We were completely broke, and we had to really learn how to make something successful and make something grow in the real world. As soon as I got the idea for [the farm], and it felt right to me as the thing I was going to do next with my life, I just did what I know how to do. If there's something I'm really good at, it’s if I need something, I'm going to get it done, and I'm going to get it done really fast. So that's what I did.
What’s been the reaction from your partner organizations to the service you’re providing?
A lot of these organizations have told me it's a lot easier for them to get dry goods or things that are more processed because they're really cheap, but they don't have a consistent source of really fresh and healthy produce that was just grown and harvested today or yesterday. So having that access has been very important to them.
How are you hoping to expand the Kindness Model in the future?
There are three facets. The first one is to finish cultivating the rest of our farmland, which still has some room to expand. In addition to that, one of my goals was to have a program where people could donate a portion of what they grow in their own homes or plots through the farm, along with what we donate to different organizations. The last one is creating more Kindness Farms and more communities. I really believe in small-scale farming. It's a very healthy way to interact with the land and with life. People have reached out to me from different places, even in Vancouver and up north, where they want to replicate that idea and want me to basically advise them on how to do that. So I think there are a lot of people who want to see it in their communities already.