Multi-hyphenate community changemaker, Christa Núñez has been named the March Community Hero of the Month, presented by Tompkins Chamber in partnership with Tompkins Trust Company. Núñez is honored for her extensive volunteerism with a variety of programs including her efforts to connect local youth with nature, farming, and education. Núñez is also recognized for her work to improve the lives of at-risk community members as well as providing thousands of books to students in the Ithaca City School District.
With a collaborative spirit, Núñez operates The Learning Farm, a sustainable teaching agriculture operation in Ithaca. Additionally, she founded CAN Cooperative Media, which supports the marketing needs of community organizations and benefit corporations. Núñez also leads Khuba International, which works to create systems focused on the empowerment of oppressed groups.
“Children, teens, and young adults need access to quality, fun educational programming in nature, safe places to spend time after school and in the summers – and good books to read,” said Chamber President Jennifer Tavares. “Christa has managed to blend all of these resources into The Learning Farm and the Ubuntu Library, and I’m so grateful to have the chance to celebrate Christa’s important work in our community.”
Through one of Khuba International’s programs, the Ubuntu Library, children who experience challenges with reading, have a low number of books in their homes, and youth of color are provided free books on critical topics such as moral character development, life sciences, food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, and human rights.
Tompkins Trust Company President and CEO Greg Hartz highlighted the impact Núñez has made stating, “Christa has done so much for our community and the impact she makes will ripple through generations to come,” said Hartz. “We are fortunate to have her working to create lasting change for food justice and education of children in Tompkins County.”
Núñez said it was an honor to be chosen for the award, noting that Tompkins County is full of people who are working hard to uplift the community. Ubuntu Library was created, she said, “to support children in their ability to read for fun and for leisure and enrichment any time they wanted to.”
The library is just one aspect of a holistic approach taken by Núñez’s organization toward creating farmer-scholars that will know how to grow food, cook healthfully, have a connection to nature and have a broad understanding of subjects like food and social justice, and land governance.
The education provided by The Learning Farm and Khuba International programs is critical to reducing the income, education and employment disparities, and health outcomes in the Tompkins County community.
“We can see there are huge gaps between rich and poor, white folks and black folks and Latinx folks, and I don’t think those gaps are reflective in any way of what peoples’ needs and desires are,” Núñez said. “We’re helping shore up those gaps by supporting kids with educational materials. We can create a society that is more united, more equitable and more healthy overall, and people can rely on themselves to meet their own needs and help break the cycles of disenfranchisement.”
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