By Adult Day Services (ADS) participant Damion, a regular volunteer at the Riverbed Farm in Anaheim, a fully functional, sustainable farm.
Riverbed Farm in Orange County is best known for its farming and wedding experiences. However, there is much more to it than meets the eye, as we discovered when working on the farm. To me, the farm is like a complex maze. At first glance, it serves its community by giving food. But, as you explore it further, as I have done, you discover job opportunities and camaraderie lie in wait. I learned how to harvest vegetables and pull onions on the first couple of days I was there. But as I spoke with the owners of the farm, I realized something very important. The farm is more than a community of people banded together to give others delicious food. It felt like another home to me, I could go there and just relax and not worry as I shook rocks off vegetables I had just pulled.
I interviewed a handful of people there to get their opinions on how they believe the farm benefits their community, those with disabilities, and themselves.
One volunteer I interviewed described it as, “A way for me to relax and let my anger go away. It also helps me learn how to better deal with other people and gives me work to do, so it keeps me busy.” Another said, “It is a unique experience, one that you can’t find working in a city.” A job coach described it as, “A good experience, because it helps individuals with disabilities learn how to function in a working farm environment.” The terms “relaxing, good, and unique” were used most often to describe the Riverbed Farm.
Another thing that is really cool about working at the farm is that everyone is super friendly, so that makes working there even more exciting. When some people see a farm, they think it’s just about harvesting crops and vegetables. That is only half of what I do on the Riverbed Farm. If I hadn’t asked about other opportunities, I would have never known that there were many other jobs relating to the farm that were available.
Easterseals has been a big help in all of this. Without it Easterseals, I probably wouldn’t have found out about the Riverbed Farm. That would be a shame, because this farm is a hidden gem. Not only does it give people work, but it helped me learn skills that I never knew I wanted to cultivate such as harvesting vegetables, pulling out plants that suck the nutrients from other plants out of the ground, and replanting vegetables by moving them from one spot to another. These are all interesting activities that have taught me something about how to grow vegetables. I think most people will be pleasantly surprised by what they find at the Riverbed Farm. I know that I was one of them!
Damion provides just one example of the many terrific community partnerships ADS has established that enables participants to volunteer in the community and gain valuable first-hand work experience. Watch this video to learn more about Damion and his experience at the farm.