North Salem’s D.I.G. Farm announces “Access Nature Project”
D.I.G. Farm, a nonprofit teaching farm in North Salem, announced “The Access Nature Project,” a program that will provide outdoor nature programs for underserved populations and people with disabilities. The program will primarily serve young adults with autism and developmental challenges, adults with chronic mental illness, and families of limited means.
“Farming at D.I.G. honors nature, and volunteers and program participants are taught about the seasons and nature in many ways, so ‘The Access Nature Project’ is a natural extension of what we are already doing,” said Allison Turcan, founder and farmer at D.I.G. Farm. This past year we officially expanded our footprint all the way to Mount Vernon through our Westchester Local Food Project Initiative.”
Bonnie Robins will serve as director of the project. She has a long history of activist involvement in nature issues, and brings extensive experience in outdoor programming and the community. Robins is one of the original members of the Lewisboro Land Trust, and previously served as its co-chair, in charge of all outdoor programming.
“Science has shown that being in nature reduces depression and anxiety while at the same time increases relaxation, wellbeing, socialization and cognitive function,” Robins said. “We believe that ALL people deserve to gain those benefits.”
In her role, Robins will work with leaders from D.I.G.’s partner organizations to support their self sufficiency. “We help them learn where to go and how to go. And we help them overcome their concerns and fears, such as finding a suitable path, safely following a trail, or encountering animals. It is really about gaining knowledge and building confidence. And about educating on the benefits gained by being in nature, such as cognitive and mental well-being improvements. When our partner organizations’ program directors report to us that they are taking their clients on nature outings regularly, then we know we’ve achieved something really good!”
“The Access Nature Project” ultimately aims to create self-sufficiency for participants, enabling them to enjoy nature outings on their own and helping to foster a lifetime love of the outdoors and an understanding of its benefits for overall wellbeing. All programs will be free to D.I.G. partner organizations and their clients.
To learn more about the Access Nature Project, visit digfarm.org. There you can also sign up to volunteer or make a donation. If you know of a group or organization that would like to participate in these nature outings, or learn how to create them in their local communities, please contact Bonnie at firstname.lastname@example.org.