The Care Farming Network, a project of Red Wiggler Community Farm, received $257,000 from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) to fund a research and education grant focused on Care Farming. Care Farming is the therapeutic use of farming practices for marginalized or vulnerable groups of people, and this grant will provide meaningful employment to adults with intellectual and developmental differences in the Northeast US by:
- Increasing awareness about the unique field of Care Farming and its therapeutic benefits
- Creating community among Care Farms in the region by hosting farm tours, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and performing site visits
- Building capacity for meaningful employment opportunities for adults with I/DD
“Individuals with I/DD have been historically underserved and undervalued- approximately 85% of this population don’t have a paid job in their community,” says Woody Woodroof, the Executive Director of Red Wiggler Community Farm. “We know there are more people with I/DD seeking employment at Care Farms than there are existing Care Farms capable of supporting the demand for employment. Our goal is to help established Care Farms hire more people and grow new Care Farms in the Northeast.”
By connecting Care Farmers to one another, farmers will learn from each other, develop and share best practices, and increase their sense of connection. Utilizing a mentorship program, the Care Farming Network will explore the characteristics of successful Care Farms throughout the US, and the impact Care Farming has on I/DD workers. From these connections and learning opportunities, Care Farmers will improve their effectiveness, thus increasing their capacity for providing meaningful employment opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental differences.