Down on the Farm: Clients take on organic farming at Oxbow Farms

preparing Oxbow farm beds

Alpha clients have had an active planting season at Oxbow Farm in Carnation. This spring Alpha clients and a volunteer began gardening at Oxbow Farm in a plot dedicated to Alpha clients. Gardening at Oxbow Farm is one of the many weekly activities offered through Alpha’s Community Projects Program.

Community integration for people with developmental disabilities has been central to Alpha’s mission since its founding. Over the years, our clients have enjoyed community day programs provided by other agencies. When the recession hit, many of Alpha’s clients lost their adult day health programs and other vocational and recreational programs due to budget cuts. In response, Alpha created the Community Projects Specialist position in 2011 to develop accessible group activities in the community for our clients and others. Craig Eidsmoe, our Community Projects Specialist, has created opportunities for client community integration, such as class and group activities, six days a week. One of these community outings includes regular visits to Oxbow Farm in Carnation.

Oxbow’s mission is to educate people on the importance of environmental stewardship and healthy food, to reconnect us to the land and our local sustainable food supply, and to inspire us to take action in our daily lives and in our communities. To Craig, this was the perfect fit for many of our clients who enjoy gardening. This spring Craig enlisted the help of volunteer Leslie Frazier to lend her expertise in gardening to our clients. Leslie is working with several Alpha clients to grow vegetables in five organic raised beds at Oxbow Farm. They meet every Tuesday to work on the beds from 12-2pm. To get started they dug up all of the beds because they were full of grass and other weeds; then they prepared the beds by adding compost. They planted starts like kale, lemon cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, sunflowers, and Indian popcorn. They also planted seeds for zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, carrots, and sugar snap peas. So far the plants are all coming along and the clients recently had their first harvest of “Dinosaur” Kale. Now that everything is growing everyone tends to the beds by weeding and watering. It’s a real pleasure to go through the process of planting and then harvesting your own produce!

Prepping beds at Oxbow farm