With the support of a SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant, Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo (Associate Professor, Orillia campus) is undertaking a qualitative study to explore the lived experiences of adults with developmental disabilities living in a care farm setting.
Lakehead University has established a partnership with Camphill Communities Ontario, a not-for-profit organization that provides adult-centered residential programs for adults with developmental disabilities. The property, located in Angus, Ontario, is home to a biodynamic farm, garden, herbery, bakery, pottery studio, woodworking shop, and performance hall, and offers day programs, arts and crafts, artistic and wellness activities, and social and cultural opportunities for residents.
Sonia explains that the study will document well-being among the adult residents of Camphill Communities Ontario, and will closely examine the potential benefits and impacts of engaging in a broad range of activities, including farming, animal care, gardening, maple tree syrup collection/production, woodworking, baking, and pottery. The research will proceed using a community-based participatory action research model.
“Using a video-based observation research approach coupled with video-elicitation interviews, the research will honour the voices of marginalized adults (namely, those with developmental disabilities) in the research process and document well-being and outcomes from their perspective. I will explore their experiences, including the impacts and benefits of being involved in farming and program activities in the care farm setting,” she notes.
Her research project, titled An Exploration of Well-Being in Adults with Developmental Disabilities Residing at Camphill Communities Ontario, marks the first time that Camphill Communities Ontario has undertaken a systematic evaluation of the impacts of their programming during their 30+ years of operation.
The research findings will assist Camphill Communities Ontario with future program development, program expansion, services and policy development. As part of the one-year research project, a documentary will be created and shared with other not-for-profit organizations that provide day and residential services to individuals with exceptional needs.