Music to our Ears
July 27, 2020; Elyse Erdman
Other Contributors: Nina Rovner and Kristyn Beeman
Board certified music therapist Kristyn Beeman states that “the beautiful thing about music is it's a whole brain experience.” Music bypasses parts of the brain that may have delays for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program,” according to the American Music Therapy Association. It is important to note the difference between therapeutic music and music therapy; when a Grower is listening to his favorite music through headphones that activity is simply therapeutic, while a board certified music therapist working with a Grower to improve communication skills is music therapy.
Since 2012, WB Music Therapy has been coming to the Farm and leading Growers in music therapy sessions. It all started when Kristyn and her family visited the Farm’s annual Harvest BBQ in 2012. Through engaging in typical conversation with other attendees, she was connected with the administration who was eager to collaborate with her. She led her first session on the Farm in October 2012, and monthly sessions quickly turned weekly with occasional individual sessions to help address more specific goals. She was even able to take some Growers to the Capitol in Harrisburg to talk to legislators about the importance of music therapy.
Not only do Growers embrace and greatly enjoy the music therapy sessions, they experience various aspects of growth through them. Music therapy improves speech and communication, fine and gross motor skills, academics, social skill development, behavioral skills, social-emotional skills, and self-esteem and quality of life. Kristyn has personally experienced this growth over time with our Growers. Coping skills, direction following, and identifying and handling feelings are some of the non-musical goals that Growers work on with Kristyn. To work on these goals, they participate in songwriting, instrument plays, movement to music, and call and response singing. In Kristyn’s own words, “Growers have shown significant progress in working towards these goals together as a group. Growers have their own songs that address daily tasks at the farm and how to complete them, even when they don't want to. They've shown progress in working together as a group, identifying feelings, learning self-control, and having opportunities for self-expression.”
Although we can’t all be together on the Farm for music therapy right now, Kristyn continues to give sessions via our Zoom parties. The Growers sing their welcome and goodbye songs every single day. Then, twice a week, Kristyn leads them in a special music therapy activity. Whether it is clapping and gross motor movement to We Will Rock You, singing a song about things we don’t like doing, or following directions and dancing to Jump in the Line (Shake Senora), we see the Growers beaming through our computer screens. They truly let go and have a good time, taking their minds off of the stressful past few months spent in quarantine. “It's so important for the Growers to continue experiencing it to maintain a sense of normalcy to their routines,” says Kristyn. “By continuing to sing the original songs they've created, to participate in movement to music, and to interact with each other, allows them to continue addressing their goals and see that even in tough times, we are all in this together. Until the day we can all be together again in person, the Zoom Farm parties allow us to continue to connect and grow within our music therapy sessions.”
We want to thank WB Music Therapy and Kristyn Beeman for their transformative work with our Growers. If you would like more information on music therapy, you can visit WB Music Therapy’s site at www.wbmusictherapy.com or the American Music Therapy Association’s site at https://www.musictherapy.org/research/factsheets. If you would like to donate to support our ability to provide Growers these sessions, please visit our fundraising site.
July 17, 2020; Elyse Erdman
Other Contributors: Kirsten Fairs, Lori Lidle, Nina Rovner, and Nora Palmer
The summer is an exciting time for harvesting vegetables and fruits here at the Farm. Now that our Growers are back, they will use harvested goods for their cooking activities, and take some home to share with their families and friends. Cucumbers are one of the Growers’ favorite vegetables because they turn them into pickles! The pickling helps us raise money, as they are sold at different events and daily in the farmhouse. Beansprouts are planted on the Farm for the ducks and the chickens. During the winter months they don’t have access to as much grass, so sprouts provide them with food and enrichment. Broccoli and cauliflower are also grown in the garden. The broccoli and cauliflower, once harvested, can be used for cooking activities, sent home with growers, or frozen for future use. Summer crookneck squash is a bush plant that we grow. They don’t grow on long vines, like most winter squash and pumpkins. This makes them easier to grow in pots and small spaces. Growers wear gloves while harvesting the squash because the stems have small spines which can be irritating to the skin. The fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. The Howden and Jack Be Little pumpkins are two varieties that grow from our compost. The Howden pumpkin is the well-known icon for Halloween. While it is edible, usually only the seeds are eaten as a baked snack. Howden pumpkins are easy to grow, but require sufficient space for the vines to spread. The Jack Be Little on the other hand is one of the world’s smallest variety. They measure up on average at 2 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter. This variety of pumpkin is bright orange and completely edible, but is more commonly used for decoration and as miniature Jack O’Lanterns. Watermelon is a delicious summer treat grown for Growers and our animals to enjoy! The Moon and Stars watermelon gets its name because the dark green rind is dotted with bright yellow splotches of varying sizes which resemble the moon and stars in the galaxy. The large fruit can reach up to 40 lbs. and is enjoyed for its sweet, bright red flesh. The Sangria watermelon has a green rind that is striped. It can reach 20lbs or more in weight. The flesh is dark red in color and is well known for its sweet flavor. This watermelon can be directly sown outside and does not need an early start indoors. The cantaloupe melon that we grow have an orange flesh which is sweet and fragrant in smell. We allow melons to ripen on the vine, then can easily remove the fruit when the ripe vines start to crack. Cantaloupes are ripe when the rind turns from green to tan. They can be stored in the fridge but only for a short period of time as it will start to lose flavor and color. We also grow grapes, tomatoes, corn, blueberries, strawberries, herbs, and so much more. This week, we picked some rhubarb that we will freeze and eventually turn into jam!
Our garden markers show what is growing in each of our garden beds so that they can be easily identified by Growers and staff. Growers made the markers themselves for a craft activity using garden rocks, acrylic paint, and paint brushes. They washed off the rocks to remove any mud and soil. They dried off the rocks, selected the appropriate paint colors, painted a white background, and detailed with images of the selected fruit or vegetable. They left the rocks to dry, painted a second coat if necessary, and put the rocks back in the garden!
Our garden is looking beautiful and the produce is turning out great. If you would like to stop by and volunteer in the garden, we would love to see you! If you want to donate to help us purchase equipment, seeds, etc. for the garden please visit our fundraising site!
7/6/2020; Elyse Erdman
Animal care and therapy is an essential aspect of our day program on the Farm. The number and variety of animals we have had over the years keeps growing. Currently, the Farm is home to two miniature horses, three pigs, six goats, four sheep, five alpacas, two rabbits, two ducks, many chickens, a guinea pig, and several cats. Animal-Assisted Therapy has been shown to reduce certain brain chemicals associated with stress and anxiety, to increase certain brain chemicals associated with healthy behavior and social function, and to reduce depression in older adults. These benefits, and the feeling of meaningfulness that Growers gain through caring for their animals, proves just how important all of our animals are to our program on the Farm. Growers’ faces light up with joy when it’s time to see and care for their animals. During our Covid-19 closure, Growers and their families even visited the Farm (following social distancing precautions) to see how their animals were doing. However, since our day program is closed, our staff cares for and feeds the animals daily. They even give them special attention during our Zoom parties. For example, during the parties we have walked the goats, let the guinea pig run around in the grass, and allowed the pigs to play in a ball pit. Even with these activities, we can all tell that the animals our missing their Growers. “We come up to the fences or the gates, or sometimes I’ll just go and rattle the chain, and they come running because they want to see somebody,” spoke Executive Director Jim Gainer. “They’re kind of missing their Growers too. While we’re volunteering and while we’re there, we’re really making an effort to work with the animals and keep them socialized by giving them that interaction that they’re used to.” With the return of Growers next week on a limited basis, the animals should feel more at home. We may all feel the world changing around us because of Covid-19 regulations, but our animals feel it too. Stay tuned to meet some of our adorable, loving animals this week on our Instagram and Facebook pages.
For videos of Growers caring for their animals on the Farm, visit our YouTube channel.
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