Organizational Mission Statement:
Our mission is to give children, youth and young adults with developmental, physical, emotional and behavioural needs, along with their families, the opportunity to learn, experience and grow without boundaries through innovative, animal-assisted therapy and nature-based education, rehabilitation and recreation.
Established in 2015 and incorporated as a non-profit in 2017, Fiddlehead Care Farm (FCF) is a fully accessible, therapeutic Care Farm in Mono, Ontario, which serves people of all ages and abilities. “Care farms provide health, social or educational care services for individuals from one or a range of vulnerable groups”. (https://www.carefarminguk.org/) Although care farming is well established in other countries, FCF is the first Care Farm in Canada. Our goal is to harness the healing and calming properties of nature to improve quality of life and help clients reach their potential and become their best self.
FCF is an innovative farm that provides a full range of counselling, horticultural therapy, animal-assisted therapy, nature exploration, recreation and life skills learning opportunities for families and children, youth and adults with developmental, physical, behavioural and mental health needs. Support is provided to vulnerable populations such as those with a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD, Brain Injury, Developmental Delay, trauma, anxiety, depression, and/or behavioural challenges. Many of the clients seen in our programs are not effectively served in a clinical or school setting. Coming from a strength-based and play-focused perspective, our programs, described below, are tailored to the individual needs and goals of each client, family or group.
Our individual and family counselling services offer evidence-based and goal-directed therapy to children, youth and their families. Incorporating nature and animal-assisted therapy to target specific goals, sessions help instill a sense of accomplishment, joy and calmness, empowering an individual to conquer the challenges life has given them. FCF summer camp is based on similar principles. Offered to kids and young adults with unique physical, developmental and psychosocial needs and their siblings, the low staff-to-camper ratio allows campers to work on personal goals in an inclusive and safe environment.
School and community group visits are supported on the farm. FCF staff work with the group leaders or teachers to create a program that best suits the participants’ learning objectives. Activities are facilitated to encourage nature exploration and hands-on learning on health and environmental topics.
Through the “Adopt-A-Plot” program, families and groups have an opportunity to purchase a plot of FCF organic farmland to plant, nurture, grow and harvest their own crops for personal use or donation.
FCF’s self-guided recreational farm visiting program allows families to visit all the ecosystems of the farm providing a nurturing environment for gardening, visiting the animals and exploring the nature trails. Other recreational programming includes FCF’s special events, such as barn dances, outdoor accessible movie screenings and Fiddlehead Fest nature festival.
Lastly, FCF welcomes individuals with developmental, learning, or mental health challenges to volunteer on the farm. Individuals are supported with specific farming tasks with the goal of learning farming, life and social skills. This is the program area in which FCF would like to grow and more closely align with the care farming models around the world.
FCF services clients and families over a large geographical area in Ontario including Dufferin, Simcoe, Bruce-Grey, Wellington and Peel counties.
Dufferin County is a rapidly growing community. Like many areas of Ontario, there are limited supports for individuals with special needs and mental health challenges and their families. Fiddlehead Care Farm (FCF) has been successful in filling a number of gaps in the community.
FCF staff have become collaborators and consultants to community partners around topics of mental health supports, special needs accommodations and the power of nature in development, coping and healing. Through our programming, parents and service providers learn how to support and raise resilient, healthy children and youth. Families and community agencies have quick access to the experienced mental health professionals of the FCF team. We currently do not have a waitlist for our mental health services. FCF’s programs are targeted at improving clients’ physical, spiritual, psychosocial and/or mental health by teaching skills to help them function and be successful in all areas of their lives. Behavioural and emotional improvements have been noted in our clients’ homes, schools and community.
Access to an inclusive and accessible location to take part in educational, recreation and/or therapeutic programming is an essential and much needed community resource. FCF is a place where every person feels accepted and their physical barriers to participation are removed.
Using hands-on nature, farm and horticultural education, FCF is helping to build healthy and environmentally-conscious families, children, youth and communities. By harnessing the healing and calming properties of nature, FCF engages individuals to improve their quality of life and restore their body and spirits.