A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from the Old McDonalds Farm in Corbett, Oregon. I had won not one, but two prizes in a raffle benefiting this fabulous organization. Homesteaded first in 1919, this 68 acre raspberry farm in the Columbia River Gorge is the only non-profit organization in Oregon, where children are helped in developing emotional and social skills in a therapeutic farm setting. There are animals to care for, gardens to tend, and nature to explore for kids, including at-risk children and youth.
Near the entrance, several raised garden beds were guarded by a lone scarecrow. Some of the older kids from the program were teaching younger ones the ropes. I particularly enjoyed watching a boy, about 10 years old, hold a goose in his lap and showing some girls how to gently talk to and pet the goose. Several sheep, goats, a pot-bellied pig, a cow, horses, and even a donkey were part of the menagerie. There was a meadow dotted with bright orange pumpkins, pony rides and hay rides around the farm. The day I stopped by, lots of families with young children were visiting, picking out their halloween pumpkins, petting the animals and going for hayrides.
Since starting this program in 1996, Old McDonald’s Farm has worked with over 19,000 children. The combination of gardening, animal care, ecology, and nature is a great means to support children’s emotional well-being.
If you are in the Portland area, go visit Old McDonald’s Farm and see for yourself how amazing this place is! They offer a variety of programs throughout the year, including a Christmas Tea in early December.