The feeling of fresh dirt between your hands, the sweet smell of crisp fruits and veggies, the hot sun on your skin. These are just some of the simple pleasures many of us take for granted when working in our gardens during the summertime. The ability to plant, nurture, and harvest our own food while being in the peaceful calm of natural surroundings is often a privilege only afforded to those with the physical ability to navigate deep soil and the rough terrain of a garden. Until now! In the Dell gardens are popping up all over the country and even internationally, affording the opportunity for people with disabilities to share in the pleasures of gardening.
These community gardens for people with disabilities was started by the Farm in the Dell Foundation. They work to build community-based, self-supporting gardening for the disabled community. The foundation acquires land and starts the farm or garden in order to benefit both the local disabled individuals and the local community. They are currently located in several areas throughout Montana, Canada, and even Russia. All of the farms are different and raise everything from cattle to vegetables.
Plans are in the works for a new Farm in the Dell in North Dakota near my hometown area. The president of the board recently explained his passion behind the project in a local interview with The Forum newspaper, “The challenge for people with disabilities is to have purposeful work, and this provides them with that. They love seeing where their food comes from and being a part of that.”
Many of these gardens and farm communities rely heavily on volunteers, both able-bodied and disabled.
Why not try gardening this summer? Here are some of the benefits that you can gain from gardens like Farm in the Dell gardens:
The gardening and farming activities are typically slow paced and relaxing, allowing people who are differently abled to adapt their ability to the activity and to their environment.
A farm and garden setting provides a wide array of activities available and provides the opportunity to learn new skills and try new things so it’s a great option for someone who is unsure just how physically involved with an activity they are able to get.
Individuals can learn business skills that can translate into tangible income by selling the produce that they themselves cultivated.
Community gardens provide the opportunity for social interaction and to get outdoors. Many outdoor activities require physical strength or lots of movement, excluding disabled individuals from joining in, but gardening offers just the right mix of requirements needed by able-bodied participants and disabled participants alike. It also brings together several people from different walks of life, encouraging social interaction that may otherwise be difficult due to limited mobility.
To learn more about the Farm in the Dell Foundation, visit www.farminthedell.org.
Have you ever been to a Farm in the Dell or participated in a community gardening project that welcomes people with disabilities? What’s your opinion about the Farm in the Dell concept? Share in the comments!