Rooted in Service: Ben Kreider and Beth Reiter
Gould Farmers seem to have an exceptional range of experience working with volunteer organizations—either prior to or as part of their time at the Farm. Examples include the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, crisis hotlines, nonviolence/restorative justice projects, theological and seminary placements, climate action, and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
Ben Kreider, Gould Farm’s capital projects coordinator, credits his upbringing with his interest in service. As a child, he took summer trips with his father, a residential contractor, and members of his congregation to volunteer with Kentucky Mountain Housing. In high school, Ben participated in week-long service projects offered by the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). He first came to the Farm the summer after graduation and later had the opportunity to assist with logistics coordination for several BVS summer work camps, again bringing him to the Farm.
“By that point, I knew that I wanted to come back,” shared Ben. Following his 2004 graduation from college (with a major in psychology), he joined AmeriCorps and applied for a year-long volunteer posting at the Farm. He split his time between the maintenance and residential teams.
It was during that time that Ben met his future partner, Beth Reiter. She had also originally come to the Farm as a volunteer through the Theological Exploration of Vocation (TEV) program offered through her college. Beth returned in 2004 following college to take a position in the kitchen.
Ben’s year of AmeriCorps service concluded and he went as a WWOOFer to New Zealand, with Beth visiting. In 2006, the couple moved to Napa Valley so that Beth could pursue a Culinary Institute of America certificate, but it wasn’t long before they decided to return back east – and eventually to Gould Farm. In 2008, Ben got a call from the head of maintenance while Beth was contacted about the expansion of the bakery. Children Everett and Maisie were born in 2014 and 2015, with Beth transitioning to per-diem work with the residential and nursing office teams.
Ben and Beth remained on staff through 2018 when they moved back to Pennsylvania but continued to visit the Farm during the summers. In early 2022, the family returned to work as staff at the Farm when a new position was created on the maintenance team focusing on building renovations and involvement in rebuilding Roadside.
While holding a variety of positions during the interim years away from the Farm, Ben cited a strong base of support and a greater sense of working toward a common goal—both in terms of production and the goals developed with guests—as key reasons for returning. He noted how gratifying it is to be part of guests’ journeys of healing and recovery, sharing:
“We had a guest who was a great and reliable worker, but who didn’t talk or interact too much. Working side-by-side on carpentry projects, I witnessed them gradually getting a little more comfortable with themselves and where they were. That translated into them being more comfortable around others, joining in at meals and even initiating conversations.”
This guest's transformation highlights the profound impact of Gould Farm’s therapeutic work programs. These programs, and the volunteers and staff who commit to serving at Gould Farm, help to empower guests—developing and reawakening skills that translate into other situations both on the Farm and in life beyond.