six adults sit on the grass at DIG Farm in North Salem, NY

DIG Farm and CBS Solidify Long-term Work Opportunities for Adults with Disabilities

The Partnership Connects the Community to Its Roots and Develops Prevocational skills Among Adults with Disabilities

DIG Farm, a nonprofit, volunteer-based teaching farm in North Salem, New York, partnered with Community Based Services, Inc. (CBS), a nonprofit organization providing the highest level of person centered and innovative care, employment, day and community habilitation, individualized residential alternatives, and respite services for people with developmental disabilities and autism based in North Salem, New York. This concrete partnership creates an opportunity for adults with all abilities from CBS
to volunteer at the farm once a week for years to come.

The benefits of this new partnership include:
• Increased cognitive function and development of prevocational skills among adults with
all abilities,
• A consistent stream of volunteer help at DIG Farm,
• A heightened sense of community, and beyond.

Fostering a Connection Between Community & Nature

DIG Farm aims to foster a connection between the community and nature while creating a thriving and equitable local food system for the benefit of all in Westchester, NY. They invite the community to engage in the outdoor educational nature programs they offer such as their Access Nature Project, develop agricultural techniques through volunteer work on the farm, and sign up for classes they conduct such as farming, cooking, foraging, beekeeping, and more.

Access Nature Project logo with a green tree

CBS's Job Skills Development Program

Volunteering at DIG Farm supports CBS’s Job Skills Development Program, which provides employment training  and experience for individuals with disabilities. As volunteers, adults with all abilities from the CBS prevocational training program will learn the process of growing, weeding, and harvesting, work alongside other interns and volunteer groups, feed chickens and pigs, and absorb all that being in the great outdoors has to offer.

“Science has proven that just being in nature, just even sitting in it, lowers anxiety, reduces depression, and negative rumination, while at the same time increasing socialization, well-being, relaxation, and cognitive function,”

Three people sit on a bench at DIG Farm

“I love seeing how these clients react to the farm experience. They come in, don’t want to engage as much, and then by the end they’re into it and they’re happy and you can genuinely see a transition into a calmer and happier space. It’s very fulfilling to see their growth and see how nature affects them in a positive way.”

People dig in a raised garden bed to prepare for planting at DIG Farm
A woman prepares soil in a raised garden bed with people in the background doing the same thing at DIG Farm

And after visiting the farm, Joe Conti, a job developer at CBS, remarked that “the beauty of DIG Farm is the freedom and celebration of choice. If you want to go plant and harvest vegetables, you can. If you don’t, you can go take a nature walk, look at the animals, and experience the beauty of the farm.” Through the freedom of this prevocational volunteer experience, adults with all abilities can explore tasks that might interest them, determine their manual dexterity, and ultimately identify the job that best suits their skill sets.

Avinash Samaroo, CBS director of vocational services, added that “it is important with everything being so spaced out in North Salem to be partnered with the local businesses, especially in the nonprofit field. It’s great that DIG Farm and CBS are working together and helping each other out.”

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