The Cultivating Inclusion Farm
October Clutter Journeys
This is S, Shannon McCarthy, of SK Simple Solutions. I will continue the October theme of decluttering journeys with an interview with The Cultivating Inclusion Farm in Murrieta, CA.
About 5 years ago Samantha Morton and Julia Rogoff proposed an idea to the city council of Murrieta. These two ladies were well known in the community as advocates for people with disabilities. Their idea was to run a farm for adults with disabilities and demonstrate how food was brought to their homes. SK Simple Solutions believes in their mission of inclusion and are glad to be a part of their journey.
In the Farm’s own words,
“Cultivating Inclusion is a one-of-a-kind project that provides vocational training and employment opportunities for youth and adults with special needs throughout out valley. We offer services to these youths and adults through the local school districts and vocational rehabilitation agencies funded by the State of California.”
The city of Murrieta donated a plot of land with orange and lemon trees. The farm has raised garden boxes, signage, water, a POD for storage, wheel barrels, tools, and a green house. The green house was a Boy Scout Eagle project.
One of the early volunteers was Doreen Camerota. She helped plant, weed, harvest, and assist the clients. She introduced the farm to Mary Ann Tams. She knew Doreen and a bit about the farm. So, in 2015 she signed up to volunteer at The Farm.
Mary Ann is still with the farm and she is the subject of our interview. Doreen continues her faithful volunteering as well.
Mary Ann’s Daughter, Kateri, has Downs Syndrome. Consequently, Mary Ann has direct experience with raising a child with Downs Syndrome and now having an adult with disabilities. She is an ongoing positive, passionate, & determined advocate of adults with special needs. Mary Ann would weed and plant alongside the clients.
Soon Mary Ann was taking on more responsibilities at the farm.
Mary Ann, what is your goal for the clients who come to the farm?
“The Farm’s goals are client involvement in all aspects of gardening. The kids will plant, observe, cultivate, and harvest fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I want them to plant veggies, take it home, and eat it. This shows them that healthy food tastes good too! They taste and prepare their harvest with their families and the community. And they have fun. I also think the kids need a chance to socialize. They need to be with their friends. I enjoy seeing them laugh and smile.”
The Farm Raised planter box. Various veggies.
Who are your typical visitors?
There were day groups of adults coming to the farm about 3 days a week. The group would see a “to do” list located in the signpost. It usually involved weeding, planting seeds, harvesting produce, watering, and sampling various vegetables. If time, they would play BINGO.
Why is the Cultivating Inclusion Farm a community success?
“Our garden is inclusive. Our volunteers come from all walks of life to promote healthy food choices, outdoor activities, and giving back to the community. Our board is diverse in their experience too. It is successful because we grow a lot of produce. This past year we had between 400 to 550 pounds of produce grown. We give back to our community by feeding those who need help.”
400 to 55 pounds of produce.
Why do the groups of clients keep coming back to the farm?
“I believe the farm is welcoming, safe, accessible, beautiful and inviting. Everyone can come and feel so peaceful in the fresh air and sunshine.”
Janis Rosner is the Master Gardener of the Farm and is associated with the Temecula Valley Garden Club. Janis starts seedlings at home and then bring them to the garden. Another member, Caryn Elias and her husband also start plants at home. This type of growing is called Container Grown plants or the “pot-in-pot” system. It allows the farm to grow trees, shrubs, herbs, veggies and reduce the amount of hand digging. It also consumes less water.
Pot-in-Pot seedlings by Janis Rosner
Caryn Elias' seedlings.
Janis and Caryn have donated kale, watermelon, herbs etc. throughout the years. Janis has a passion for gardening and her advice on seeds, what to plant, how to plant, care of veggies and other advice contributes greatly to the success of the farm.
What has the farm produced? What do you do with all the food produced?
Kale, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, radish, jalapenos, Japanese eggplant, onions, and bell peppers. After making a salad or salsa for the kids the rest of the produce goes home with the kids and donated to food pantries. We donate to St. Vincent de Paul at St. Catherine's Church, Temecula & Community Food Pantry of Murrieta."
What is your hope for the farm?
“That it continues with more volunteers, more donations, and producing beautiful food. And that the community visits us more often. We hope to have more community events. Our last event was March 17th. We really want the community back to enjoy our farm. Please join us!”
Next week we’ll answer the question, how did SK Simple Solutions get involved with the Farm?
If you would like more information about the Cultivating Inclusion Farm please contact Mary Ann Tams.
Cultivating Inclusion is a 501(c) non-profit organization.
SK Out! Have a great week! Be Happy