Watch Us Farm
Local Organization Provides a Place For Adults With Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities to Live, Learn & Work
Photographer / Ryan Woodall
For Janice Agarwal, a longtime dream became a reality. With support from the Town of Zionsville, Watch Us Farm began initial operations this past summer. The goal of the farm is to provide adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities the opportunity to learn both job and social skills while contributing to the local community.
Recently, participants have been visible around the Village doing things such as painting curbs and cutting weeds.
Agarwal, who is executive director and co-founded Watch Us Farm with her husband David, conceived the idea of the farm through professional and personal experience. Agarwal is a physical therapist with a certification in neurodevelopmental treatment whose work has taken her throughout the world. David Agarwal is the treasurer for Special Olympics of Boone County and is a medical doctor specializing in diagnostic radiology. One of their two sons is an individual with special needs.
“Farms like this are all over the world,” Agarwal says. “In the United States, there is one in Montana and Texas but nothing like it in Indiana. We bought this property six years ago with the idea in mind.
“The farm’s mission is to reach high school graduates or those who age out of public school that society has left out. These are individuals, who, at first, don’t seem different but will always need supervision. They can be trained to do three or four-step tasks and will be successful as long as they have a safety net. They can do jobs other people don’t want such as planting, weeding, picking vegetables, maintenance or even folding clothes.”
Agarwal’s long-term goal for the farm is to create a self-service, self-sustaining community. This summer served as a trial run to see how the farm could function. Manuals were written for people who instruct individuals as well as for those who come to volunteer.
“People who volunteer tell me the experience has been life-changing and they didn’t realize they would get so much out of it or how much it would affect them,” Agarwal adds. “They didn’t realize how fun these individuals can be and how they can be integrated into life.”
Agarwal is grateful for the community support she has received. She has met with Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak and the Town Council. She has also reached out to both Zionsville Community High School and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in order to facilitate some possible future vocational training exchanges and opportunities for student service hours. However, for Watch Us Farm to continue and flourish, a larger location and some kind of corporate sponsorship are needed.
“When you have community involved it becomes a relationship,” Agarwal says. “This is the way life should be. Mayor Haak is eager to help us and he gets what we are doing, but the town doesn’t have the funds. When we bought our land, we were hoping that eventually we could buy neighbors’ farms, but instead developers purchased the properties. In Germany, I saw a farm like ours that was funded by Audi.
“My dream would be to develop it into a working farm, restaurant, shop, vocational center and even residential housing,” she adds. “It all depends on the community. Whatever we do, we want the town to be proud of it.”
For more information visit WatchUsFarm.com.