Founded in 1972, Orchard Village each year serves 300 men, women, and children with developmental disabilities, most of whom are living below the national poverty level. In 2013, Orchard Village planted a quarter-acre urban farm on its main campus for residential clients. After partnering with The Talking Farm in 2016, Orchard Village has grown and harvested a consistent, predictable, and well-planned crop of vegetables and herbs each year, yielding more than 2,500 lbs. of produce last season alone. Orchard Village has been a regular vendor at the Skokie Farmer's Market, selling about 500 lbs. of produce each year to help fund the Farm's operation. In addition to the farmer's market, we provided nearly 300 pounds of produce to our residents' homes this past year. We donated the remaining 126 pounds to The Niles Township Food Pantry for free distribution to their patrons. Orchard Village clients help harvest, bag, weigh, and sell the produce at the markets, teaching them valuable skills and giving them real-life experiences. Working at the farmer's markets allows clients to interact with the public and provides them with skills transferrable to competitive community-based employment.
In this time of Covid-19, the Farm is more critical than ever. During the stay-at-home orders, our clients suffered greatly from the effects of social isolation and physical inactivity. Experiences that allow our clients to get out and about and learn essential skills while giving back to the community have been crucial and an invaluable boost to their mental and physical health. The Farm utilizes community resources, partners with other nonprofits like the Talking Farm and the Niles Township Food Pantry, teaches our clients about agriculture, provides them with a healthier diet, stimulates them mentally and physically, and overall enhances the lives of our residents and the community at large.
Funded by Chicago, IL (September 2021)