hope is not lost

Beloved Houston urban farm suffers major Thanksgiving Day theft

Beloved Houston urban farm suffers major Thanksgiving Day theft

VIP Brunch Lela Rose Hope Farms 2020
The Hope Farms tractor was among the crucial equipment stolen on Thanksgiving.  Photo by Harlow & May Studios

The holiday season is typically a time when nonprofit organizations fundraise for the upcoming year. But 2020 has struck, leaving many local groups scrambling. Such is the case with Hope Farms, which suffered a major setback with the theft of nearly $40,000 of crucial equipment on Thanksgiving Day.

Hope Farms, which provides fresh, farm-grown fruits and vegetables to underserved Houstonians and also offers programs for veterans and children, has been robbed of its tractor, a 4 x 4 truck, and other farm equipment and supplies, founder Gracie Cavnar tells CultureMap.

“Farming is a seven-day-a-week business,” says Cavnar, who oversees Hope Farms and the charitable organization, Recipe for Success, “but we took a much-needed day off on Thursday.” On the morning of Friday, November 27, a Hope Farms worker discovered that the barn’s “indestructible” lock had been severed with a blowtorch. To add insult to injury, the thieves reportedly loaded the stolen equipment on the personal trailer of Hope Farms managing director, Tyler Froberg, before getting away.

Cavnar notes that the organization has insurance for the tractor, but that comes with “a huge deductible.” To that end, she’s hoping to raise money for the deductible and for new security equipment. Those interested in donating can do so on the Hope Farms site or via Facebook.

Just how significant is the loss? Cavnar says that the tractor has taken Hope Farms from “big gardening to real farming.” Yeoman’s work now falls on the few staff remaining at the farm, who will have to double their efforts to make up for the tractor’s efficiency. Cavnar says while she’s worried about the effect the theft has had on her team’s morale, they continue to be “relentless” in their mission.

Still, she doesn’t mince words when discussing the loss. “It’s a gut punch,” she says. “It’s been the icing on the cake of a really difficult year.” Fundraising, Cavnar notes, has “dried up,” while her organization has canceled $500,000 worth of fundraisers and laid off crucial staff.

For now, Cavnar says she and her team are shifting their attention to the growing need of area locals who’ve been hard hit by the pandemic — and are grateful for any help generous Houstonians can provide.

“We’ve been focused on growing as much food as we can and feeding as many people as we can,” she says. “If you care about growing healthy food for Houstonians and want to help us continue to do that, we so deeply appreciate anything.”