Marist Statement on Sprout Creek Farm, April 17, 2020
Marist College has made the difficult but necessary decision to end financial support for Sprout Creek Farm. Since 2018, the College has advanced more than $2.5 million to keep the struggling Farm operating, and this is no longer sustainable.
The nonprofit Farm, a separate 501(c)3, had been losing money for several years before it approached Marist seeking funding support. In the last two years, Marist funded significant capital in the Farm’s infrastructure—including $750,000 to address listeria contamination. The contamination problems at the Farm had not been disclosed to Marist at the time of the operational transfer in 2018. Despite this substantial investment of resources and time, as well as the College’s commitment to the Farm’s success, it became clear that the Farm’s business model was not viable going forward. The current COVID-19 crisis has only served to exacerbate an already untenable situation.
For the past several months, in an attempt to develop a plan for the Farm’s operations to continue, the College has been actively engaged in communications with the Society of the Sacred Heart, the Catholic order of nuns instrumental in establishing the Farm based on a gift they received. Unfortunately, the Society has refused to take back the operation of the Farm itself, and has been unwilling to provide the funding necessary to keep the Farm operating.
Marist entered into the agreement with the Farm as part of a good faith effort to provide a lifeline to a struggling local organization. However, the College is simply unwilling to use College assets to further subsidize the Farm’s losses. The Farm’s Board of Directors was notified of Marist’s decision, and the future of the Farm will be decided by the Board.