What if there was no Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary
Guest Post by: Christine Mayworm, Program Director.
I’ve been thinking about this lately.
Our struggles over this past year combined with watching the sale prices of land soar out of our grasp, has me thinking that this could be a possibility. What if it did? How might this affect our animals, our volunteers, and our community? Would people suffer?
In answer to this, I am drawn to recollect the last year of our operation on 176 St.
Despite COVID restrictions, we were able to:
- Partner with Options Community Services to help children who had been exposed to domestic violence;
- Partner with the correctional facility in Abbottsford to provide healing opportunities to their employees who provide support to the frontline workers who experience a traumatic event (assault, suicide, homicide, etc.)
- Initiate our mental health programming so we could help children who were suffering greatly, most because of parental abuse or abandonment;
- Begin a jobs program that pays youth to plant and tend to a community garden (What more important skill is there today?);
- Enter a contract to provide space to a Montessori preschool program;
- Coordinate parents who were interested in starting up a farm school for their children;
- Provide a high level of animal care that is the prerequisite to all of the above programming.
It felt like Kindred had made a place for itself in the community and people were turning to us for provide a much-needed service. We did not need to advertise; word of mouth was all that was needed. We got to this point because of ten years of hard work to slowly build a name for ourselves. That name was built on quality work and an honouring of our contracts with the community. Every child who came through our programs had the opportunity to feel cared for and valued. Sometimes all it took was for an adult, one very kind compassionate volunteer, to actually SEE the child for their inner qualities, and not be seen as a ‘behaviour problem” or as a diagnosis (ADHD, anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, autistic, emotional disturbed, and on and on the labels go…). One child with the diagnosis of autism was taken aback when his “buddy”, our very kind compassionate volunteer, said with all sincerity, “boy you’re smart”. The boy said no one has ever said that to him. Or another little girl, when asked by her “buddy” what she liked the best about the program and she said “You. I like being with nice people and you’re nice.”
I remember when we were just starting the planning process of the program and wondering who would be the children who would come to our program. When we discussed the “social development kids” (children who are unable to function in the regular classroom, for a wide variety of reasons, are referred to social development in order to get extra support from a teacher, a child and youth worker and the school counsellor). The teachers who were our first volunteers told us to stay away from social development…. “those kids have such severe behaviour problems that we wouldn’t be able to handle them.” In ten years, I can only think of one instance where the behaviour of the child became a problem too big for our volunteers. This is a testament to our space, our animal care, our volunteers, our approach, our expertise, and most of all, our kindness. And our name became synonymous to “safe haven”
Our name, “SALI’s Farm” meant something to the community, especially children. But we wanted to expand our reach. When an organization changes it’s name, there are risks, because of the hard work it takes to build the name, the brand. We thought the name change was worth it because our sights were big. We were ready to bring the safe haven to a larger community and the community was ready. We wanted more community involvement, more community access, more community direction. We felt so strong about this that we needed it in the new name.
What will happen if there is no Kindred Community Farm Sanctuary?
I believe people will go back to how they coped before. They will suffer, silently. When the seed of value is not planted in a child’s soul, how will that affect their future? Will someone else step up to plant those seeds? Will we ever know for sure?
All I know is that what is needed in the world right now is a coming together of community, where humans can learn about and connect to nature and animals, where the elders can teach the children, where everyone knows the magic of a seed that becomes nourishment for our body, where differences are seen as opportunities to understand, where every living entity is SEEN as having value and something important to contribute.
I know it’s possible. We did it once.