ABOUT THE CARE FARMING NETWORK
What is Care Farming?
Care Farming is the therapeutic use of farming practices for marginalized or vulnerable groups of people. This model is common in the UK and Europe and goes by varying names, including Care Farming, Social Farming, and Social Care Farming. For a more detailed definition of Social Care Farming, check out this blog from our friends at the Southeastern Social Care Farming Collective.
Care Farming Network Mission:
Care Farming Network advances the therapeutic use of farming practices by connecting new and established agricultural based programs to build capacity, increase quality, and provide technical support.
Goals of the Care Farming Network:
Our goal is to create a supportive community that will:
- Strengthen existing Care Farms
- Create a better infrastructure to help new Care Farms start up
Why focus on Care Farming for Individuals with Intellectual and/or Developmental Differences (I/DD)?
While Care Farms serve many different populations, we are specifically focused on Care Farms serving individuals with I/DD.
In the United States, individuals with I/DD have been historically underserved. 81% of adults with developmental differences do not have a paid job in the community, and only 36% of the public believes that people with intellectual differences are capable of being leaders.
Since 1996, Red Wiggler has provided meaningful employment to adults with I/DD. We employ 15 Growers with I/DD throughout the year. Growers are paid minimum wage ($12.50/hour) or higher, and most work part time Monday through Friday. We believe in the dignity of earning a paycheck by doing meaningful work, and Growers gain a professional identity as farmers. In addition to the inherent therapeutic benefit of working with soil and experiencing plants growing from seeds and hard work, Growers find meaning in their ability to give back to the community through the growing and distribution of healthy food. Red Wiggler provides a setting for individuals with special needs to be teachers and leaders. Twelve Growers have worked at Red Wiggler for more than 8 years and teach new volunteers how to farm, what the growing season looks like, how to use a rake, and what a kohlrabi is.
At Red Wiggler, we have seen how Care Farming changes lives and empower people. By establishing the Care Farming Network and connecting like-minded organizations, we hope to grow the Care Farming movement.
Resources the Care Farming Network offers and provides includes:
- Consultations regarding starting, building, and growing Care Farms
- Map Directory of Care Farms in the United States
- Technical support, tools, and resources about Care Farms operations, best practices, fundraising, identification of needs, and staffing and volunteer management
- Workshops, seminars, and conferences
- Supportive community and a place where Care Farms can come together to actively engage with each other and share knowledge