Taproot Farm & Environmental Education Center (Taproot) is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Our work is guided by our mission, which is nurturing care for the environment by educating, inspiring, and connecting communities to the land, to their food, and to each other in a holistic manner.
Taproot envisions a world where individuals across socio-economic boundaries cultivate deep, empathetic connections to the land, appreciate and understand the cultural and environmental systems to which they belong and their complex relationships, and live healthy, prosperous, sustainable lives in harmony with the earth. We value the interconnectedness of the world and thereby promote nurturing deep connections, caring relationships, and aesthetic experiences. We value work that is innovative, actively engaging, and meaningful. We value education that is mindful, joyful, inquisitive, and phenomenological. We believe that in order to create social and environmental change for a common good, we as individuals need to connect physically and emotionally to the land.
Taproot’s purpose is to nurture an empathetic world that understands the integrated relationship between healthy food and a healthy environment and appreciates a whole larger than ourselves. Our programs and services fall within three distinct but holistically integrated realms: Education, Food & Agriculture, and Ecological & Community Stewardship. In addition to our current programs, we are working toward creating a learning center whose campus is an educational homestead comprised of a working biodynamic farm and whose programs and services are living systems rooted in the land and in community. In addition to offering programs, workshops, and events for our local community, we will offer alternative education semester programs for high school, gap, and undergraduate students. A Forest Kindergarten and a Waldorf inspired elementary program are also being considered. Additionally, the campus will be a community center where we will gather for seasonal festivals.
Taproot was founded by Dr. Melissa Grella in 2015 with Phase 1 that included three initiatives: the Lancaster Community Garden, North Country Gleaners, and the Root Seller Marketplace. After two decades of working in the field of environmental education as a teacher, naturalist, trip leader, and administrator at several nonprofit organizations, as a classroom teacher in a public and a private school, and as an adjunct professor, Grella was drawn to bring her vision of a non-profit organization that worked at the intersection of empathetic environmental education that was developmentally appropriate, local agriculture, and community to the North Country. The initial seed was planted as a result of her master’s degree thesis in 2002 that researched the level of environmental education (EE) in Coos County middle schools. After a state of dormancy, the idea evolved into its current form inspired in part by her doctoral research, through her work with the local food system in New Hampshire, and from her work as a founding faculty member of the Central Vermont High School Initiative, a Waldorf High School in Plainfield, VT.