Special to the Citizen
The Farmer’s House Wine Walk fundraiser drew more than 100 people to downtown Platte City on Aug. 1 where local residents visited six sites — Ben Ferrel Museum, Extending the Branch, Cohen’s Arts & Framing, Platte City Flowers & Gifts, the Platte City Area Chamber of Commerce and The Farmer’s House - for wine samplings, appetizers and live music.
The Farmer’s House non-profit works with youth with developmental disabilities. The non-profit has moved to downtown Platte City after Wells Bank donated their building to The Farmer’s House after the bank moved to a new location.
The building, which is more than 100 years old, was given to the non-profit because the bank wanted to have a viable, ongoing program that would benefit community residents in their building.
“The bank had hired people with developmental disabilities and they had that heart for what we did so they approached us and said they were grateful for what we did and they wanted to donate the building, which was a blessing to us, there’s a lot of love here and a lot of joy,” senior program director Dana Chaplin said.
The Farmer’s House offers four programs: early work experience, employment services, community integration and social enrichment.
Early work experience is the largest program, and works with 11 different schools in the Northland.
The Farmer’s House provides work opportunities with retail markets in downtown Weston, catering and gardens. Individuals (farmers) with disabilities pick fruits and vegetables and learn to prepare and make goods sold in the markets. Hundreds of students in local high schools are learning job skills and receiving early work experience though the non-profit.
“Farmers learn horticulture skills at a farm in Weston,” Chaplin said. “They go into the greenhouse and plant a seed, transfer it out to the garden, grow it and harvest it for the nonprofit’s market and sell it in retail markets. They sell jams and jellies and other kitchen items. They learn customer service, how to use a register and to count change. They learn teamwork and how to interact and problem solve. From middle school on we see the progress and they see it too.”
Social enrichment is enhanced by helping the farmers build a variety of social skills, taking baking classes, learning to cook healthy on a budget, creating quality meals plus, Chapman says, “having good old fun on a Saturday night out with their friends doing fun things.”
Senior programs director Kelly Cogan says that like Wells Bank, the Farmer’s House wants to be an integral part of the community.
The group is focusing on ways to find unique solutions to solve the growing problem of young people with developmental disabilities graduating from high school with no job training or experience.
“We want to prepare them for jobs and a good quality of life and sadly once individuals graduate from high school, services just stop,” Chaplin said. “You’re 21, you’re done and you’re kind of on your own. We want to prepare them with early work experience so that they’re not out there without any skills or experience.”
The non-profit employs 30 people. By the end of September their new location will be ready to house them all and the community integration program will begin.
The non-profit is planning to add a large courtyard in the back of the building to create a space for community members and farmers to bring them together and interact by sharing lunch.
Fundraisers, public support, Medicaid waiver funding, state and federal funding, sales from its retail markets, catering and gardens fund the non-profit.
Local wineries partnered with The Farmer’s House for the Wine Walk and Ramada Inn co-sponsored the event.
Door prize contributors included Wines by Jennifer, the YMCA and Ramada.
“We’re so excited that downtown Platte City is embracing us,” Chapman said.