You cannot walk the meandering trails on the 80-acre property in New Canaan nor settle in for lunch at The Commons or walk through the common space to admire the SANAA building and drink in its sleek sloping glass and steel architecture under one metal roof — on a hill that suggests it is floating on a river.
But make no mistake, while temporarily closed for the public's safety, Grace Farms is fully operational, continuing with its mission to provide medical supplies to first responders and healthcare workers in Connecticut and food relief to people in Fairfield County.
Since March when these humanitarian efforts began, Grace Farms Foundation that runs Grace Farms, supplied 1.9 million pieces of personal protective equipment.
Food donations have reached 73,000 pounds, including meals prepared on-site in The Commons kitchen and pantry items delivered to 12 not-for-profit partner organizations in five towns in lower Fairfield County.
The charities, which include Inspirica and Person-to-Person, among others, help feed everyone from the elderly, refugees and immigrants, homeless and working poor and those impacted by domestic violence, according to Grace Farms.
When the pandemic took hold in mid-March, the foundation identified two biggest emerging needs: the PPE for first responders and healthcare workers and food relief.
Elizabeth Rapuano, Grace Farms director of Communications, said one in seven people in Fairfield County is experiencing food insecurity. "We have The Commons. We have a garden that supplies produce and fresh fruit so we pivot to use those resources to feed our neighbors."
Additionally, the foundation recently received a $95,000 grant from the Connecticut Community Foundation and the United Way of Waterbury that allowed for the delivery of 400,000 pieces of PPE to health care workers at 109 not for profits in the Greater Waterbury area. The supplies included surgical mask, gloves, N95 respirator masks and face shields.
So when will this popular sanctuary for local residents and out-of-towners reopen?
"Grace Farms is prioritizing mission-critical work in response to this unprecedented pandemic. The scale of our community relief work is only made possible by operating with conservative safety standards and prioritizing the health of our staff.
"In addition, as a humanitarian organization dedicated to advance good in the world, we want to be sure that Grace Farms does not possibly contribute to community spread of COVID-19. We look forward to welcoming the public back to Grace Farms we determine it is safe to do so," said Rapuano.
Those walks will have to wait.
"We will make the determination for reopening once we determine it is safe to reopen to the public," said Rapuano.