On June 27th, 2023, Madison Fields hosted The Care Farming Network for a special farm (and soapery) tour!
Madison Fields sits on 400 acres of beautiful farmland in the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County, Maryland. Madison Fields’ programs support their mission to strengthen their community by creating a safe, accessible, and inclusive agricultural environment where people of all abilities join together to participate in meaningful work, enjoy respite and healing, and engage with the natural world. Madison Fields program includes Equine-Assisted Services, Job Readiness Program, On-site Soapery, and Agricultural Education.
On the day of the farm tour, we met at the front of the farm and did introductions. We met our tour leaders: Nancy Frasche, Job Readiness Program Manager at Madison Fields, and David, Job Readiness Program Participant at Madison Fields. Then, we walked up the hill of the farm and met some of the horses (and a donkey) in the fenced pastures.
At the top of the hill, we visited the miniature horses in their enclosure, and we heard about their adventures in animal-assisted therapy at local schools, hospitals, and more! We then explored the Equestrian Center, where we saw horse riding lessons in action through the viewing window. David told us about the special connection he had with his primary riding horse, and about the beautiful displays they make to commemorate the horses after they pass away. Nancy gave us some insight into the different programs that the horses are a part of, including the Therapeutic Recreational Horseback Riding and the Equine Assisted Learning, as well as the processes for prospective (human) participants to get into these programs.
After that, we walked down to the chicken coop and learned about the chickens’ roles as a newer addition to the farm— we even got to take home some farm fresh eggs!
Throughout the tour, Nancy and David showed us the different components of Madison Fields’ multifaceted Job Readiness Program, including Equine Care (grooming, feeding, cleaning, paddock maintenance), Barn Maintenance (sweeping, arena care), Goat Care (milking, feeding, mucking, and soap making), and Chicken Care (feeding, cleaning, collecting eggs).
We finished off the tour in Madison Fields Soapery, where we saw (and smelled) the huge variety of soaps made by Job Readiness Program participants using goat milk from the farm. Nancy showed us some incredible animal-inspired soap carvings which were made by one of the participants.
After the tour ended, we all headed to the Milking Parlor for a delicious potluck dinner!