Farm Ability2
projects

FarmAbility Gardens

Oxford, United Kingdom

Founded in 2011 as a pilot project and registered as a charity in 2013, FarmAbility provides a meaningful outdoor programme for co-farmers; adults with autism and learning disabilities.  Activities include animal care, horticulture, woodwork and seasonal farm tasks.

The aim of FarmAbility is to enable people with learning disabilities and autism to improve their health and wellbeing, and to make progress in their lives. Strengths and abilities are increased by concentrating on physically engaging, purposeful activities in small groups, with support that encourages independence and autonomy.

FarmAbility also runs an an EmployAbility project to support young people with autism and learning disabilities to find work in Oxfordshire, and a project for school students with autism and learning disabilities. Partnering with two schools and one college, this project takes students into community growing spaces and onto farms in and around Oxford. In addition to preparing students for the transition to adulthood, the project builds new community connections and gives the wider community the chance to see how people with learning disabilities and autism can make a valuable contribution.

As of 2013, sankalpa has provided FarmAbility with an annual grant towards the continuation and cultivation of their two organic vegetable gardens. Food from the gardens is primarily destined for co-farmers’ shared lunches — a daily activity whereby a supported co-farmer prepares a communal meal using fresh seasonal produce. Co-farmers are involved in each stage of the gardening process, from sowing seeds to harvesting produce. The gardens offer a rich range of activities that suit different people with differing interests, needs and abilities.

sankalpa grants have facilitated the fantastic outcomes we see every day in the FarmAbility gardens:

A co-farmer with no verbal skills and severe autism spends 30 minutes quietly sieving compost, gaining peace, enjoying a controlled sensory experience at the right level of stimulation for her, alongside others equally purposefully engaged.

Sarah Giles, programme director at FarmAbility
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