Every Sacred Places is unique. That’s part of the magic. Some are just a few square feet while others span acres. Some incorporate art pieces or water features. Nooks for folks to gather and connect. Stages for performances and celebrations. Signage noting history or educational elements. These sites look and feel different because they have been designed to serve their unique communities. From pocket parks to urban farms, each has qualities that make them Sacred and essential to their communities.
Langton Green is an organization that supports adults with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to explore their interests, set personal goals and realize their full potential.
Langton’s main campus, located in Annapolis, MD provides services including day and residential programs, structured as an alternative to traditional institutions. From job coaching and vocational training to creative programming such as art and writing events, Langton Green focuses on fostering the whole individual.
Part of what makes Langton Green so special is their newest initiative, Langton Green Community Farm. In fact, Langton Green is the only organization for people with disabilities to own and operate a working farm that supports not only clients of the program, but the greater community as well.
The farm spans 13-acres just outside of Annapolis City Limits and just 20 minutes from Langton’s main campus. Director of Operations and Firesoul John Iaquinta explains, “The farm was established…as an attempt to find ongoing and meaningful work opportunities for those that we serve with intellectual disabilities.”
At the farm, residents and volunteers are engaged with building garden beds, planting seeds and continuing to cultivate thecrops they plant. The farm is also home to a number of animals including chickens, goats and potbelly pigs. Clients of Langton Green learn to feed and care for the animals, while also experiencing unique programs such as goat yoga and animal therapy.
People with developmental disabilities often have been cared for their whole lives, and what happens at Langton Green Community Farm is that they have the opportunity to plant seeds, cultivate those plants, harvest vegetables, and then make contributions to the community. – Langton Volunteer
Langton’s Community Farm is also focused on supporting the creativity and imagination of those who they serve and the community beyond. The entire
13-acre site is spotted with various installations such as murals, peace poles, a sensory garden — and the newest features: an outdoor art gallery pavilion and performance stage, supported by the Nature Sacred Firesoul Network’s Enrichment and Enhancement Grant Program. School groups and members of the surrounding community are invited into the space to participate in programming, live performances, art installation, or to buy produce harvested at the farm.
This site also partners with the Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis, also home to a Sacred Place. Excess food is donated to the shelter to further support members of the community, particularly those in need. These inter-Network partnerships truly show the effect that these organizations and Sacred Places have on the community at large.
Langton Green is one of numerous working farms in the Nature Sacred Firesoul Network, and are members of our Community Farming Affinity Group. Firesouls John Iaquinta and Diana Davis both attended our most recent meeting in July, where Firesouls from community farming sites across the Network gathered virtually to brainstorm ideas, share resources and best practices and, most importantly, build meaningful connections with one another.
These Firesouls were brimming with great ideas to engage community members in their sites! Some of these include:
- Nutritional workshops with an on-site chef using crops from the garden.
- Tours and educational activities for school groups.
- Farmers markets and farm stands.
- Using music and concerts to draw folks into community work days.
Unfortunately, Firesouls are facing some similar challenges with vandalism. But resource and idea sharing is the heart of affinity group meetings — we discussed ways that Firesouls are managing theft and vandalism at their Sacred Places:
- Stephanie from Wangari Gardens suggested a locked shed where community members have access to farm tools with a code/key – while providing a storage area with tools and items that folks are able to take, use, and often bring back. Similarly, a creative way to prevent theft of plants and crops is providing a community plot with a fully stocked public garden to mitigate stealing from private lots.
- A budget friendly solution Gerilyn from Bon Secours Urban Farm shared: purchase fake security cameras and motion activated flood lights for nighttime.
This group also expressed interest in participating in a tour of these Sacred Places in 2023, so stay tuned for information on this exciting opportunity that will be open to any Firesouls interested in learning more about community farming in Sacred Places!
And as always, Firesouls are welcome to apply for Enrichment and Enhancement grants to support and deepen engagement with their communities through these and other programs, activities and site additions.