Blossoming at the Farm a beautiful, neuro-diverse learning space for kids

CHEK

Surrounded by animals and the beauty of nature near Goldstream, Blossoming at the Farm isn’t your typical classroom.

“I love being on the land so much and the animals and definitely the people,” Grade 9 student Amaris says. “The people are a big thing!”

“I really love this community,” Zoey, another grade 9 student, adds. “Just the people here, they make you feel so safe and special, and they really listen to you.”

This is a neuro-diverse learning community for children aged six to 17 who are looking for an alternative way of education.

“I think it’s really important because not all of our kiddos do well in the same system we need to be able to have diverse experiences because we’re all diverse people, so our brains work differently, and our bodies work differently,” says co-founder Tanya Stearn-Smith. “We need more than one way to learn.”

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Beyond the usual subjects, Blossoming at the Farm students are learning important lessons about growing their own food and taking care of the land.

Helping out with the animals—and learning empathy and compassion along the way—is also an important part of the curriculum.

“We muck the horses’ stalls, we also get to feed the chickens and make mash for the horses and stuff and all that kind of stuff and make hay bags for the goats,” explains grade 6 student Dylan, whose favourite part is the animals and the friends he’s made.

“The animals, they’re our co-teachers, they are our co-regulators,” Tanya adds. “They are what actually helps all of us, including myself and my staff, and our kids bring their best selves to the world to each other.”

The non-profit was started seven years ago at Mary’s Farm Sanctuary and has other programs, including a teen pod, forest school, and monthly social nights.

Disc golf on the weekends helps bring in money but the school wouldn’t be possible without donations.

“Everyone can access our services, whether they have the financial means to or not, which means that a large percentage of our kiddos that are here are unfunded and so in order to make our budget work, we do a big fundraiser every year,” Tanya explains.

This year’s fundraiser is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, and everyone is welcome.

“The farm is such a magical place, but people can’t access it really because of the nature of our work,” Tanya says. “The Saturday fundraiser allows the entire community to come and experience the land, the animals, the people, the disc golf, the chickens.”

Tess van Straaten

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