Rescued Allaire Community Farm rescues, in turn, animals, people
WALL TOWNSHIP — The Allaire Community Farm is many things to many people.
Sean Burney, who along with his wife JoAnn founded the non profit, is also CEO and a board member of the place with the motto, “Nurture Through Nature.”
The couple and their team of volunteers live by these words passionately.
The venture began when Burney learned of a farm in Wall Township that was for rent on Allaire Road, the development rights having been sold to the township. Wall Township gave approval for 10 greenhouses, and Burney and his team started cleaning the area, which had been in disrepair for a good period. “We had a lot of work,” recalls Burney, “the horse barn and everything.”
That same winter, Burney got a call to rescue some animals. “We decided, ‘Okay, we can do this,’” he recalls, “and we rescued the animals, and we had our 50- and 60-year-old friends in a snowstorm building pens, and we took in the animals. My wife at the time was teaching kindergarten, and someone said that we should do birthday parties.”
The other half of the mission was then born. In attendance at a second such party was a non-verbal child with autism. The Burney’s dog approached the sitting child, sat by his legs, and the young man began to pet him. JoAnn walked by the boy and said, “That’s Lucky,” while pointing to the canine. She walked 10 feet further then heard the boy say, “Lucky?” She then began to talk with the boy, put him on a pony for a ride. His Mom broke down in tears.
“We realized (then),” said Burney, “that God had more important things for us to do.” And, with a son as well on the spectrum, they investigated horse therapy and other different therapies which had helped him, and they prepped the farm for a special needs’ day. Children, siblings, and family attended, and the day — with hayrides, pony rides petting zoo activities — went well. At the end of the day, two boys walked over. One said thank you and gave the Burneys a hug, and then the second, who also had autism, also gave a hug, and the parents were in tears. They child hadn’t had a hug from the child in over six years.
As a follow up, Allaire Community Farm started bringing in various different special needs groups, and inside a greenhouse used programs, skills were taught regarding how to seed the ground, water the seeds, harvest and when spring broke they would plant out in the fields themselves. With an eye on the future for the individuals, Burney says, “We saw that with the farm — to make them employable, most of them don’t have endurance — so we started exercising them by moving them from the greenhouse, and walking them to where they would take their break, and then walking them all the way down to the other end of the farm, to start building their endurance and their ability to do the repetitive work at a faster space.” The program was a huge success and produce that the groups grew was sold at the farm (100% of proceeds go back to the non-profit). Another positive thing Burney discovered was that if, the kids grew it, they would eat it, unlike at home where it would be cooked, and they’d be forced to try it. In the winter, Allaire Community Farm performs their cut-again gardens, which gives different populations which come to the farm work to do.
Established in 2013, Allaire Community Farm is seeking to do more work with disabled veterans and veterans with PTSD. A special event was kicked off this past Veteran’s Day. “We know all over the country they are using farms to help and show the veterans the therapeutic value of working on the farm has been proven,” attests Burney. “So, we want to work more with developing that program. The other thing is, our biggest push, is to be able to truly maintain through the winter, so we are putting up a greenhouse, and Habitat for Humanity is coming on the (February) 11th and they’re going to help us put it up. That will have heat in it and enable us to maintain the classes.”
Typically, any given day, Allaire Community Farm will have four to five different groups on the farm doing different things. Burney also hopes to get an employment training program rolling for special needs people, and to convert a current barn into a store, while building a new 20-stall one. The store will give the students the opportunity to learn how to work in a retail environment.
Allaire Community Farm is currently 25 1/2 acres, and they will soon be leasing and farming another 34 acres up the road. The goal here is to expand the area growing area for greens and herbs at the newer locations. There is also discussion in the works about two other properties.
Allaire Community Farm is located at 1923 Baileys Corner Road.
Visit www.allairecommunityfarm.org for more information.
1-800-634-5021 410-822-3965 Fax- 410-822-5068
P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925