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A new Anderson business, Fulfilling Fields Organic Farm, wants to make it easier to get local organic produce and employ adults with autism and other developmental disabilities in a healthy therapeutic environment.
Nick Navolt has been enjoying his new job at the farm for two weeks.
“[It] gets us out and about, gets us outside interacting with people, teaches us stuff. Teaches us how to garden, how to take care of ourselves,” Navolt said.
Navolt has autism and is part of a program called Creative Positive Environments, or CPE, which provides job placement opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.
“These people treat us like we’re people, not things, not disabled people,” Navolt said.
Carrie Lustig is the owner of Fulfilling Fields. She used to work with an organization similar to CPE. She said she started the farm for two reasons: to provide cheaper organic produce to the North State and to create a place for people like Navolt to spend some time in the open air.
“My clients were just having behaviors and acting out in all the traditional day programs because they had too many people in one building, they were getting over-stimulated, they wanted to be outside more and in a more relaxing environment,” Lustig said.
Jim Collins, helping out with the gardening aspects of the new farm, says he agrees this is a great place for those who could use a little calm.
“There’s just something intangibly therapeutic about having your hands in the dirt and working with the soil, working with the plants, and working with nature in general, just experiencing nature,” Collins said.
Lustig hopes to eventually hire some of the clients full time. Navolt said he’ll be first in line when that happens.
“[I enjoy] being able at the end of the day to look down and see what I’ve done, see my progress,” he said.