FarmAbility co-farmers are women and men over 16 years of age with autism and/or learning disabilities who like being outdoors and enjoy taking part in purposeful activities, such as egg collecting and grading, growing vegetables, caring for farm animals, woodworking, and a range of seasonal farm tasks. Our co-farmers come to the farm between 1 and 3 days each week, throughout the year.
Our programme for co-farmers runs on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 10am until 4pm. Co-farmers typically take part in three different activities on the farm each day, including taking the FarmAbility dogs for a walk across farmland or down to the river. We have a seasonal schedule, and co-farmers have a choice of activities for the three months of each season. Co-farmers work in small groups of no more than four, supported by an experienced Programme Leader, and often also by a volunteer or occupational therapy student.
Our varied activities are chosen for therapeutic benefit, for the development of practical skills, and for healthy lifestyles. All our activities foster confidence and self-esteem, encourage teamwork and independence, and give co-farmers the chance to demonstrate their abilities.
Perhaps most importantly, we place huge significance on the quality of the atmosphere we create at FarmAbility. We want everyone to feel welcomed, valued, and included as part of a thriving and friendly community. We’re proud that co-farmers look forward to their weekly visit to FarmAbility – for us that’s the key indicator that we’re doing OK.
Alongside our main day service, we also run the EmployAbility project, which supports young people with autism and/or learning disabilities to build the skills, experience and confidence they need to enter the workforce. We also run activities for school students and in September 2017, our schools programme will expand to support 20 students from schools and colleges to prepare for a successful transition to adulthood.
As well as our location on FAI Farms in Wytham, we are developing partnerships with a number of farms and productive green spaces close to our base, to allow us to expand and bring the benefit to more co-farmers.
We welcome people with a wide range of abilities and we encourage people considering becoming a co-farmer to visit us for a free taster session to see what we’re about. For more information about becoming a co-farmer, or to arrange a taster session for yourself or someone you support, please email JP@farm-ability.org.uk.