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Springdale Farm provides a cheap way to de-stress

by Alyssa Daley- Editor-in-Chief
Tue, Sep 12th 2017 07:00 pm
Photos taken by Alyssa Daley/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Photos taken by Alyssa Daley/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
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As a student at The College at Brockport, it’s easy to forget that there is more to do than hang at a friend’s house off campus or find a ride to Rochester on the weekends. Being located in a small town is one of the college’s attractive qualities for some incoming students, but once the school year has begun, the majority of the student population gets a little stir-crazy at some point during the semester. Luckily, there are places to go and unwind that take less than a 15 minute drive to get to.

Springdale Farm is one of such staple in the greater Brockport community, having been founded in 1876 and located only ten minutes away from the college in Spencerport. Monroe County purchased the farm in 1960 and in 1993 Heritage Christian Services, an organization centered around helping people with disabilities, took over the operations of Springdale Farm. The farm is open for the public to enjoy and doubles as a location for HCS day habilitation for more than 25 men and women with developmental disabilities. This program helps the individuals working through the program itself, and it also brings people together from all over the area, whether they be Springdale Farm staff or people from the greater community coming to visit.

“I’ve always had an interest and a love for animals so that’s what first got me interested in working here,” staff member Kathlyn Johnson said. “During the week, individuals with disabilities come and they work with the animals, so I slowly was introduced with working alongside the individuals who work on the farm as well and that’s been great!”

Johnson has found that the day habilitation program not only benefits the individuals with disabilities who are involved, but everyone who has the chance to come to the farm during the week. Seeing someone persevering in pursuit of their dreams is an inspiration for all.

“Working with them has mostly been an inspiration for me in seeing how, just working on the farm, helps them. But it also helps me as well just through getting to know them as people and as individuals and learning about their personalities and their ideas,” Johnson said.

The day habilitation program helps those who are a part of it learn necessary life skills everyone needs in order to live independently and lead their own lives.

“[Those in the program] have specific services they have that they like to do throughout the day and we, as the staff, kind of help them through those services,” Johnson said as she explained what a normal day in the HCS program entails. “So depending on what they end up doing on the farm, whether it be feeding some of the animals or brushing some of the animals, it helps them to open up a little bit and to get them out, not only into the community, but to see what they can do themselves.”

The therapeutic and medical benefits from interacting with animals are able to be felt by people of all demographics. According to NPR’s article, “Pet Therapy: How Animals and Humans Heal Each Other,” spending time and engaging with animals can increase the level of the hormone oxytocin in the human body. For those of us who are not familiar with medical jargon, oxytocin is what helps people feel happy and trusting. It also affects the body’s ability to heal and grow new cells, meaning the higher the oxytocin level, the healthier people are and the more animals there are in people’s lives, the more oxytocin will be released in their body.

Springdale Farm is open to the public. This grants people from all over the chance to be a little happier and it seems to be working as the farm caters to over 40,000 guests annually, according to springdalefarm.org.

“We have a lot of different people [come and visit],” staff member of over six years, Darlene Korytkowski said. “We have a lot of group homes that come in during the week … we do a lot of field trips in the spring for city schools, country schools, schools from the suburbs. They all come to learn about where their food comes from. We have elderly out of nursing homes visit and they’ll come to see the robotic dairy barn or they’ll just come to see the animals.”

From her time working at Springdale Farm, Korytkowski has seen first-hand the effect the animals have on all of the visitors the farm has throughout the year.

“Animals are very calming for people. They can really make a person feel better, seeing the animals, petting the animals. All of [Springdale’s] animals are very spoiled and very handled. They’re usually handled from the day that they’re born so that they love people and are very friendly towards people,” Korytkowski said.

When entering the farm, guests are immediately greeted by Korytkowski’s favorite animal on the farm, Rikki the pig, who is around 800 pounds due to his love for eating pumpkin and watermelon. To the left is the petting zoo where lambs, goats, bunnies, chickens, a turkey and sometimes horses reside for visitors to interact with. For one dollar per person, college students who need a break from managing part-time jobs and full course-loads, families looking for a fun day-time activity and people who love the outdoors and being around animals can spend an hour or two worrying about nothing besides ensuring each little animal gets the same amount of grain from their hand.

“There is always something different to see here [at Springdale Farm],” Kristine Huff said as she walked around the farm grounds with her family. “We are watching my grandchildren and decided to bring Tanner and Owen (twin baby boys) here because I used to bring my kids here. It’s very open and free and they’re allowed to pet the animals and feed the animals. There’s hiking trails in the back and you can picnic, so we like to spend the whole morning and afternoon [at the farm].”

For some people, Springdale Farm is where they learn life skills that allow them to live and work independently. For others, it is where they work year-round with animals who help brighten visitors’ days. For those who volunteer, it is a place where they feel they can make a difference. For those who visit Springdale, whether it be for the petting zoo, the dairy barn tour or just to spend the day outside, it is a place for making memories. No matter what category you may fall into when you arrive at Springdale Farm you’ll be greeted by smiling faces and happy-go-lucky animals.