Growing Minds Teaching Farm at Serendipity Center
Opened in 1979, Serendipity Center is Oregon’s oldest and largest therapeutic school. It’s a place where children with serious behavioral and developmental disabilities can receive a complete K-12 education that is seamlessly integrated with therapeutic supports. Recognized in recent years as a pre-eminent program in the field, Serendipity’s model offers care to youth and families within the framework of a regular school setting; students go to class, work for grades, and receive a diploma on graduation day. However, simply sitting through a lesson in a classroom is frequently a source of debilitating anxiety and frustration for our kids, as nearly all have had traumatic experiences in similar settings, so alternative settings for learning are frequently needed. Serendipity’s faculty, staff, and management are unified in the belief that offering access to healthy meals and time spent in nature are paramount for the mental and physical healing of our students. Additionally, recent cuts to the SNAP program has made food security even more of an issue than it already was among our student body - a majority of whom come from low-income families. Therefore, in response to these needs, our newly formed farm-to-school steering committee has proposed the development of a teaching farm on a vacant lot adjacent to the school building. The farm will be an environment for horticultural therapy, a living laboratory to instill common core science principles and a larder of fresh, organically grown produce to be sent home with students as well as prepared and served in the school cafeteria.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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