The team share a strong passion for social justice. A Taste of Paradise Farm is our expression of that passion.
We have faith in the power of the natural world to engage young people in learning and improve their attitude to life. As such, our farm produces nutrient-dense, organically grown food while providing disadvantaged young people opportunities to re-engage with the world on new terms.
The young people who benefit from the farm come from a range of care situations and their circumstances are often very diverse. We accepts referrals from organisations supporting young people in difficult circumstances with issues such as mental health, intellectual and physical disabilities, and behavioural issues often relating to adult neglect and abuse.
MENTORING AND TRAINING
Because of the diversity of needs these young people have, it is necessary for us to provide a custom designed approach for each individual.
Our desire has always been for the farm to provide the optimum outcome for each individual and this entails many hours of one-on-one interaction, particularly as these young people are often no longer in the formal education system and are likely to have very poor literacy, numeracy and communication skills.
The farm programme aims to achieve outcomes with young people based around an increased self esteem and personal confidence, a sense of achievement and pride in completed tasks, practical workplace experience and ultimately future employment, particularly in the agricultural sector.
There is no on-site accommodation. Responsibility is taken for each young person at the farm gate for one day, or part thereof, each week. The programme engages each young person on a one-on-one basis and aims to develop a relationship based on trust, mutual respect and teamwork.
We often take on young people at the farm who present with a range of extreme social and behavioural issues. The referring agencies are strongly supportive of the programme, as it provides a major stablising influence and has been, in fact, the only aspect of their lives working postively for them.
The project is currently involved in:
- Early intervention programmes for young people and their extended families.
- Disability support programmes.
- Mental health support programmes.
- Mentoring and work experience programmes and agricultural training for young people entering or re-entering the work force.
- Developing relationships with local primary schools and their human society and environment classes.
- Developing relationships with local high school agricultural classes.
- The establishment of short term respite accommodation on the property.
The farm employs a small number of people on a casual basis.
Andy and I and the AToP Board see great potential for equipping young people with the necessary skills to find employment, particularly in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven, both of which have high unemployment rates.
This area is surrounded by property owners with no farming experience, but with financial resources, who would be in a position to employ practically trained young people who have been through our programme. The AToP Board is committed to doing everything possible to further the goals of instilling hope in these young people and setting them on the path to a more fulfilling and productive life.
The formal work experience component is made up of a series of modules tailored to each young person’s abilities. They are as follows:
- Introduction to the farm.
- General engine principles.
- Small machinery maintenance and operation.
- Large machinery maintenance and operation.
- Animal husbandry.
- Tree propagation and planting.
- Conservation principles.
- Pasture management.
- General building and construction.