For years, ServiceNet staff have been discussing the values and benefits of therapeutic farming. Until recently, we always felt it was a pipe dream. To make a long story short, the perfect property came onto the market for a price that we just couldn’t pass up. Spearheaded by Sue Stubbs, the dream has recently become a reality!
Following a few years of searching for just the right property, ServiceNet found and purchased an 11-acre parcel of farmland in the neighboring town of Hatfield, a little more than a 10-minute drive from the main offices on King Street. In many ways this is the “perfect property” for a working farm community, and the purchase has generated a great deal of excitement throughout the agency. A portion of the property (approximately 4 acres) has been plowed and planted in recent years, and the purchase includes a beautiful 5 bedroom house with a solarium, an in-ground pool, a tool shed, and a section of forest (also approximately 4 acres) with magnificent oaks. Renovations to the house are currently being completed, and the assessment of clients who would benefit from living on the farm is well underway. An open house was successfully held on December 16 with both staff and clients visiting to see firsthand the great potential the farm holds. As can be imagined, the list of possible uses for the farm is endless and includes growing vegetables and flowers, a road side stand, greenhouses, animals of all kinds, bees, walking trails, a small campground, picnics, an arts tent, a bakery, a woodworking shop and swimming in the pool. While four clients will reside in the house with a live-in farm manager, there will be opportunities for many, many clients and staff to visit and access the farm on weekdays and weekends.
This initiative is an exciting one! We believe it deserves a creative name that captures the uniqueness and great potential the farm holds in providing opportunities and activities for clients throughout ServiceNet. And now we need everyone’s help in naming the farm. While ServiceNet has a tradition of identifying its residences by the street name or town where the program is located, we want to create a name that catches the imagination while at the same time not singling out the farm as just another program for individuals with mental and developmental disabilities. The goal is to avoid the kinds of names that end up identifying rest homes or long term care facilities, or “special places” for “special people,” and find a name that captures a natural feature of the farm or area, or is synonymous with gardening and farming, raising animals, or forestry. While we know the farm will be a uniquely special place, we in no way want clients to feel or experience the place as anything but a regular Hatfield farm in the Pioneer Valley where great things happen.
That being said, we welcome any and all name suggestions. However, we request that you stay away from names that include words that might be stigmatizing such as hope, recovery, etc. Suggestions for farm names should be submitted to me no later than January 10th. For more information about the farm, please call me at 297-6399 or email me.
Director of Therapeutic Farming/Fundraising