DENNIS, Mass. — Along with tomatoes, cucumbers, and roses, the Cape Abilities Farm in Dennis is growing something pretty special.
The majority of the farm’s workforce is made up of people with a wide range of disabilities.
Whether Phillip Weber is asked to prune roses or dig in the vegetable gardens, the 24-year old from Centerville loves coming to work.
“I like the experience, and I like working with the flowers. It’s very relaxing, peaceful," said Weber.
The farm gives Weber a chance to learn a skill, and how to work.
"You need to follow directions, and stuff like that," said Weber.
Cape Abilities started small with the idea of providing job opportunities for people who often have a hard time finding work.
“The farm came to us as a charitable donation,” explained James Barnes, director of enterprise for Cape Abilities. “We thought maybe we could create some jobs with it, and it's grown from employing three individuals in 2006, to this year, we will probably have 80 individuals getting an opportunity to work on the farm.”
It’s clear Barnes is proud of how far the farm has come.
“This is a real farm! We're growing stuff here! Tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, flowers, all kinds of things. Tomatoes alone, we’re around 25,000 pounds of tomatoes harvested each year. We want to get that up to 30,000 pounds," said Barnes.
A bumper crop is nice, but it’s seeing workers develop self confidence which is the biggest reward.
"I like to think of this place as giving people time and space to find out what’s possible," said Barnes.
That’s includes people like Hank Svirsky, who proudly wears his Special Olympic Medals on the job.
"It feels great when you’re around people,” said the 24-year old South Yarmouth resident. “It makes me feel like I’m part of the community.”
Farm manager Tracy Frasier says it isn’t fertilizer that makes this farm thrive; it’s flexibility.
"You make modifications. You meet people right where they’re at. It’s not different than any other situation, and you make the modifications to set people up for success," said Frasier.
It’s a philosophy that works for both people and crops, according to Barnes.
“I say it all the time. We grow vegetables, flowers, and opportunities. You know, that’s what this place is all about," said Barnes.
The Cape Abilities farm is located on Rt. 6A in Dennis. They also operated a farm stand on Main Street in Chatham.
The farm is so success that in now contributes about one million dollars in revenue to the non-profit.
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