PHASE: Design
CATEGORY: Education
Reconnect Farm
North America

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A community garden specifically designed for families and children with special needs. A place for families to grow seeds in the soil, spirit, mind, and heart.

Standings & Awards

out of 85 in North America
out of 28 in Education
out of 51 in Design
out of 42 in Charitable
out of 118 Overall
Creating space in nature for those with special needs to foster growth in their hearts and in the soil

Reconnect Farm will be a community garden designed to primarily benefit those with special needs. Profound cognitive developmental theorist such as Jean Piaget believe that children learn best through activities explored through their own natural curiosity. A key for children to develop to their fullest potential revolves around constructing personal knowledge. Furthermore, space is needed to explore and understand the environment in unique and creative ways. Children and adults with special needs are especially in need of activities such as gardening. Through gardening all senses are engaged, thus stimulating cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual development. This garden will be a space to immerse the senses in such a beautiful process of growth.

 

The goal of this garden is to not only provide a space for growth in the soil and hearts but to provide a launching pad in creating a sustainable camp for all children and families. This camp will have a sustainable farm, both feeding the camp and also giving to those in the community in need. This camp will present a place to reconnect with nature as well; a place to live and learn the true creativity of our hearts and the whimsical adventures nature can take us on. This dream of beginning a camp for all families, those with special needs and those without, has been in the making for years. The hope for Reconnect Farm is to be a stepping-stone into the dream of a camp as well as opening a space to be immersed in nature locally.

 

Reconnect Farm will encourage positive self-image by allowing participants to have control over their planting and harvesting. Limits are often set on those with special needs because we want to protect them from risks. Yet, in order to create a positive self-image one needs to both succeed and fail. All need the dignity of having control over certain aspects of life and all need to experience success. Having the freedom to be creative will allow all people to feel worthy and to feel confident in themselves.

FIVE PROJECT QUESTIONS

What is your innovation? 
A community garden specifically designed and accessible for families and children with special needs. Children learn best when they construct their own knowledge of the environment around them. This garden will encourage natural curiosity to flow freely. By giving freedom to explore, succeed, and sometimes fail all will experience a more positive self-image. Trust and confidence in the self will flow from having space to interact with the environment without strict limits on creativity.
Who gains the most? 
All who participate in this garden, those with special needs and without, will gain. This garden will encourage growth within all areas of development in both parties. Having a garden that includes community members with disabilities and without encourages a better understanding of one another. When we come into community together we all realize that we are all gifted in different ways, and fully capable of living a full life.
Who pays? 
Initial income to found this garden will primarily come from the generosity of donors who believe in this mission. Restaurants who use “farm to table” methods may take interest in supporting this specific community garden by purchasing our product. Also, each member who will garden in a plot will be asked to partake in a monthly plot charge. Charges will be dependent on the socioeconomic status of the community in which the garden is founded.
What is your success? 
Our success will be measured by integration of members from the community with members who have special needs. Also, our success will be based on meeting short and long-term goals. Within the next 12 months a fully functioning, special needs accessible, community garden will be built and maintained by its members. Within the next 5 years this garden will have led to the foundation of a farm and camp to meet the needs of families and children with and without special needs.
How will you do it? 
This garden will partner with a church or another foundation that believes in our cause. El Cajon Church of the Nazarene has agreed to discuss this possibility. A management team including myself (founder and representer of special needs), master gardener, Harry Watkins (Professor of strategy and sustainability, partner in founding Westminster Community Garden), church/foundation board member, and garden architect will be created.

Badges & Awards

Project 2014
USD SIC Project 2014