High Spirit Community Farm
UPDATED: June 30, 2021
High Spirit operates two life-sharing houses on a four acre farm, just west of the town of Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Lifesharing means that adults with intellectual disabilities live and work together with their caregivers as a large extended family, sharing the same joys, sorrows, satisfactions and frustrations that all families do. The rhythm of weekdays revolves around house and land work and animal husbandry. Each morning, caregivers and residents work side-by-side caring for the community’s vegetable garden, compost piles, and its cows, goats and chickens. In addition, they work together to do the cleaning, laundry and cooking needed to ensure that the household runs smoothly and efficiently. In the afternoons, community members participate in activities that are healthful, build competence and are fun. They may go to the gym, go swimming at a local community center or go horseback riding at a therapeutic riding stable. Or they may participate in local music, art or dance classes specifically designed for persons with intellectual disabilities. At night and on weekends, all relax and enjoy the company of each other and of those who live in other lifesharing homes in the Great Barrington area. By living, working and learning together, meaningful relationships develop among community members. Those relationships permit each member of the household to recognize and develop his or her full potential.
Our farm program is based on a homesteading model. We reconnect to the earth and work the hardscrabble Berkshire Hills into bountiful production. We celebrate by eating our organically grown vegetables, eggs and meat. We aspire to grow or raise most of our food. We have a large vegetable garden, several fruit trees, seven cows, two goats and a brood of egg-producing chickens. What we do not eat immediately after harvest, we process and preserve in order to enjoy later in the year. All of our community members participate in the care and maintenance of our garden, trees and animals. There are a wide variety of meaningful work opportunities requiring different levels of skill. There are jobs requiring careful fine motor skills: picking up eggs, planting seeds and separating herbs from their stems. There are also lots of gross motor jobs: mucking stalls, turning compost and taking buckets of food scraps to the chickens. Our goats and chickens not only provide us with companionship, but also teach us that everyone, regardless of his or her ability, can be a caregiver. The lovely warmth, smells and noises of these animals continually remind us that they need and want our attention. All this work requires the mastery of skills that may be new and challenging, or that we already know and enjoy.
- Insurances Accepted:
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1770 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 101
Cambridge, MA 02140
Our Autism Response Team (ART) is specially trained to connect people with autism, their families, and caretakers to information, tools, and resources.