Tarr Road Farm

June 2009

A training facility for people with intellectual disabilities

Idea Services’ 21 hectare Tarr Road property is both a working farm, a training facility, and home to the six clientspeople who live in two houses there. The farm each year purchases 25 calvesunder the PGG Wrightson IHC Calf Scheme, selling them when they are rising two-year-olds. The money received from these sales is used to cover the day-to-day running expenses of the farm programme. There is a greenhouse and garden on the farm.

Idea Services (previously the IHC) has owned the Tarr Road farm since 1983. The aim is to train people with intellectual disabilities in practical agriculture and horticulture, with the aim of equipping them to go out and find work that uses these skills.

There are more than 23,000 adults and 13,000 children with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand. Most of these people live in their own homes, attend regular schools or find work in the community. The last large institution closed in October 2006.

The emphasis at Tarr Road farm is on time limited training foundation skills training rather than profits. A number of people with intellectual disabilities who have trained here have gone on to find paying jobs in the community, either full or part-time says Katesupport worker. Kate Ferguson, is who is employed part- time on the farm and also share milks with her husband on a nearby property..

Each day, between six and ten clientspeople work on the Tarr Road Farm gaining practical experience and also often qualifications including quad bike and tractor certificates. As well as working with stock and sometimes machinery, each clientperson has their own vegetable garden.

Each November, 200 to 300 PGG Wrightson IHC Calf Scheme calves are collected from donor farmers in the district and overnighted on the Tarr Road Farm. The health of the animals and ear-tags are checked before sale.

Sometimes calves that are not quite ready for saleTwenty five of the dairy cross calves are are kept on at the Idea Services Farm, until they are rising two-year-olds. When they are sold almost two years later in September, profits go into the general Idea Services coffersfunds.

In the six weeks between one lot of grown calves leaving and the next lot of weaned calves arriving, pasture is grown out so 70 to 80 bales of silage and later 100 small bales of hay can be made. While a contractor is employed to make the silage, people at the farm Idea Services clients are very involved with making and carting hay aiming to finish the job before Christmas.

They also feed out these supplements over winter.

Launched in 1984, the Calf Scheme is a vital fundraiser with more than 4000 calves donated annually raising over $1m. Farmers raise a calf or calves until they are weaned, or pledge to donate to IHC the value of a calf then sold at a weaner fair through the PGG Wrightson livestock trading network.

While the aim is to at least cover costs, the farm’s finances are not separated out from the Idea Services’ books, says support worker Kate Ferguson. Kate is employed part-time on the farm and also sharemilks with her partner on a nearby property.

The farm has a large plastic tunnel-house, . , This is currently under-utilised as gardening is currently not a popular option with traineespeople . however However it is important that activities reflect people’s choices and skills,. sSome seedlings are grown here then planted out in the vegetable garden, providing food to the farm residents andwith any surplus donated to the local foodbank..

There are two homes client residences on the farm. People who live here love the country life, some living and working on the land and others traveling to jobs in town for one or more days a week.

A key figure at Tarr Road is resident Chris Hartwell, who keeps an eye on stock over the weekend and carries out odd jobs including fixing break-fences. He also works two weekdays on the farm, plus has a job on a nearby nursery.

Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world some employers are often looking for speed and are not willing to take on an intellectually disabled employee with an intellectual disability who may work more slowly than other staff. However, the advantages of employing a person with an intellectual disability include reliability, strong loyalty from their employee and the satisfaction of contributing to the community., says Kate.

The Tarr Road farm is a magnificent facility that KateIdea Services would like to see made use of by more organisations such asand schools for Transition and skill development.with special needs classes. This wasis a great place for people to develop practical skills, knowledge and confidence, while having a good time.