Recently I had the opportunity to visit this new addition to the agri-tourism entities scattered across the rolling hills of historic Weston. Pulling into the drive, raised bed plantings, greenhouses and interactive displays tell guests there’s definitely something good growing here. The rustic porch of the main building was scattered with bright mums and other cozy fall items. The smell of fresh apple fritters greeted us as soon as we left our car.
What makes this business unique is that it’s actually a vocational program geared at helping individuals with disabilities get involved in an agricultural experience. The Farmer’s House Market offers locally-grown cheese, vegetables, fruit and craft items that allow area youth and adults the chance to participate in the process. Participants, called special farmers, can help in almost every aspect of the operation, from tending to the garden beds to baking items sold on-site and wrapping up or packaging items. Volunteers can work alongside the farmers in a true community setting.
Because vocational skills are part of the goal of Farmer’s House Market, participants can also learn how to operate a cash register, sock inventory and interact with shoppers. Coordinators say there’s more than the basic tasks going on here; the individuals who work at Farmer’s Market also see many lasting, personal benefits to performing the tasks.
Volunteers at the store extended a warm welcome and invited us to enjoy product samples while roaming the grounds and store. They are quick to share the story and mission of the business, which operates as a non-profit organization. Profits from sales of the produce, flowers or food/craft items help the program to expand its vocational offerings to individuals with disabilities.
Like many great ideas, the Farmer’s House Market concept came from families who had a similar desire: to offer new opportunities to loved ones with disabilities in a nurturing environment. It’s also a project that draws in the local community, including the nearby Weston Red Barn Farm, the local high school and the Platte County Board of Services day rehabilitation program. In fact, a “Seeds of Change Produce Garden” was established at the Weston Red Barn Farm, with the harvest sold at the Farmer’s House Market.
The market is successfully combining classic agriculture with modern-day tools, having a large Facebook following and an interactive website. Fans of the Facebook page receive valuable updates about the Farmer’s House, but also interesting agricultural facts and information that helps connect them to the community. Photos of the special farmers and volunteers are fun and inviting, while connecting audiences to the inspiring mission of the non-profit business.
Today SJC celebrates the good things growing at Farmer’s House Market, and the efforts of a group of individuals to see their vision become an outstanding reality. What new idea can you get growing today?