Orkestai Farm was founded at Planting Fields in 2014 by Alethea Vasilas, Joshua Marcus, and Erin Staub. We are a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to promote the creative participation in society of people with differing abilities (neuro-divergent individuals whose lives have been affected by Autism, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities) through practicing ecological agriculture and expressive arts. Since our inception we have created opportunities for our neurodivergent community members to be impactful within our local food system and community. We have strived to address the issue of ‘aging out’ of the school system, which often leads to lack of support services, isolation, and fear for the future given the challenges of living with a (dis)ability.
Orkestai Farm believes that human beings can have a regenerative relationship in reciprocity with our shared Earth when our ways of being take into account the interconnectedness of ALL things. This conception of interconnectedness leads also to the striving for an inclusive community and culture. At the farm we intend to create a sanctuary where an inclusive and embracing community can come together to slow down, unplug from the latest technology, delve into embodied and experiential learning and exploration, be buoyed by a sense of belonging, develop an awareness of our interconnectedness, renew the spirit, honor our ancestors, celebrate over good food, share our harvest, and cultivate diversity (biodiversity, neurodiversity, cultural diversity, etc.)
Because forming an inclusive community is central to our farm philosophy, we are committed to organizing our farm on a human scale. Our focus is on tools (an extension of hands) rather than machinery (human replacement). The human-scale allows for bio-intensive cultivation and a safe, peaceful, and community-oriented atmosphere.