In Focus: Learning on the Land

Flathead Care Farming helps clients learn valuable work and social skills while focusing on their abilities

“It’s really just about looking at the abilities rather than the disabilities,” says Rachel Grant, program manager for Flathead Care Farming, as she looks around Centennial Farm west of Kalispell, watching clients stack slash piles and pick vegetables from the garden.

The program works regularly with 60-70 clients, serving seniors, veterans and those with developmental disabilities. Many of the clients are more familiar with a clinical setting, one where they are being treated or counseled for a disorder. But that’s not the case on the farm.

“We focus on their abilities,” says Les Keller, owner of Centennial Farm. “Disability isn’t an issue out here.”

Keller’s farm is one of about 10 in the valley that work regularly with Flathead Care Farming clients, taking the chores that need to get done and adapting them to the abilities of the workers.

“It’s hugely empowering for them,” says Grant. “It’s amazing to see what they can do once they are given a chance.”

Ryan Trout tosses brush onto a slash pile at Centennial Farm on Aug. 11, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Ryan Trout tosses brush onto a slash pile at Centennial Farm. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

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