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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Tiny homes, big vision

Kasey+Van+Norman+is+one+of+the+founders+of+Northway+Farms.
Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

Kasey Van Norman is one of the founders of Northway Farms.

Northway Farms, a nonprofit in Bryan founded in 2016, offers homeless women and their children a chance to find community, work and residence on a farm.
After researching similar nonprofit models, directors Justin and Kasey Van Norman created a long-term, employment-based housing model that gives women and their children a house to stay in for a period of two years and allows them to work directly on the farm, producing food for the community.
Kasey Van Norman worked in the nonprofit sector for 20 years. After moving to Bryan-College Station, she said she saw how homelessness affects the community, and wanted to do something to change that.
“We saw and noticed that poverty, homelessness specifically, is really the one factor holding all of these other things in place: drugs, violence, crime, domestic violence and so we wanted to meet that need specifically,” Van Norman said.
According to Van Norman, there are organizations in Brazos County that serve homeless and poor communities, but there are no long-term facilities. Government housing has a cap on the duration of stay, so Northway Farms seeks to create a long-term place of residence, Van Norman said.
“You have a place to come, not just for 30 days or for 90 days, but for two years, where you can live safely, or you can work,” Van Norman said. “We give you those relationships and those resources to tap into what you were designed to do and be a leader in this community.”
Northway Farms has hosted four women and their families since it began and intends to expand its housing to six home units by the end of the summer and 20 units by 2020, Van Norman said.
One woman successfully began her own online boutique business while she stayed at Northway Farms, according to Van Norman.
“She has since moved off the farm, she now has her own apartment, she’s providing for her girls and she’s doing her dream, which is to have a boutique,” Van Norman said. “And that’s just one example of what we’ve seen in the short time we’ve been in existence.”
Board member Tracy Singleton said seeing positive results in the lives of the residents keeps her determined to further the Northway Farms mission.
“I’ve seen tears, I’ve seen appreciation, I’ve seen their children walk in and know that they’re safe, so I’ve seen an impact on the residents firsthand,” Singleton said.
Assistant director Kristin Vanderveer said the community has been supportive of the vision and idea behind Northway Farms.
“It’s been really encouraging to see the groups from A&M that come out or the groups from church that have come out — they’re just so excited for what we are doing,” Vanderveer said. “There’s been a ton of community support, which I think is exciting and encouraging and I think it really impacts and encourages others to really see the need and want to be involved.”
The support from students at Texas A&M has helped Northway Farms receive two grants from Mays Business School, as well as physical help on the farm, Van Norman said.
“It’s really been cool that we have been served by over 500 students in the past six months here on the farm,” Van Norman said.
As Northway Farms continues to expand and serve more women and children, the organization aims to serve others and hopes members of A&M’s student body and the community will partner with them to pursue these goals, Van Norman said.
“Connecting with humanity at the ground level has been the most profound life change,” Van Norman said. “It changes your entire perspective and you see people so differently. You learn to truly bear a burden of another person and put yourself where they are. It gives you care and compassion for humanity and a patience and kindness for them. And that’s changed our family, it’s changed my marriage, it’s changed my children.”

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  • Northway Farms opened in Bryan to help homeless women and children. Unlike some short-term housing operations, residents can stay in these tiny houses for up to two years.

    Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett
  • Northway Farms

    Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett
  • Northway Farms

    Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett
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