the farm, in a nutshell
I have been here for almost a month and have already fallen back into the luxury of the the area. There are so many things that I missed about the Farm when I left, and some things that made me crazy 3 years ago (when I left), that still make me crazy. This is definitely no Utopia, but it is close enough to perfect for me (right now)...and that is all I can ask for in this lifetime.
I took a Staff position as a Kitchen Assistant, which means I help put out 4 meals each day. Breakfast, Lunch, Tea Snack ( a 96 year old tradition!) and Dinner. But, in putting out the meals every day, we staff lead a team of "guests," which is a term referring to our "patients" here at the Farm. The guests suffer from a wide array of mental illness; ranging from schizophrenic disorders to bi-polar disorder or depression, etc.
The purpose of guests coming to the Farm is not only to seek out treatment for their disorders, but also to be a part of Community in a world that can be very isolating, especially if you suffer from mental illnesses. The work program is also a means to teach "life skills," i.e. building up/or maintaining the ability to keep a job, while struggling with mental illness and also dealing with being med-compliant (that is to say, sticking with your medicine routine, which is VITAL!)
So, needless to say, Dear Readers, work is not always as simple as cooking; it involves a working awareness of all the people you work with, and a working relationship with all the other "teams" --Teams refers to what work you do at the Farm, i.e. I am on the Kitchen Team, there is also a Farm Team, Maintenance Team, Forestry & Grounds Team, Restaurant Team, Garden Team and Baking Barn Team--as well as maintaining open communication with the Social Workers who are the direct contact to all the guests.
The Farm is AMAZING in that this method has been working fairly successfully for nearly 100 years!! And though the world changes, and more directly, Community changes there is still a focus and desire to serve the mentally ill in a fashion that is respectful in a world where so many choices for the mentally ill can be so dehumanizing! I am so proud of the work I do and if I leave no mark on this world, at least I will leave it knowing that I did good, honest (sometimes exhausting!) work. I am unbelievably happy!