By Gigi Holst, Montana State University

Hohepa is a community non-profit farm and residence who’s motto is, “every life fully lived”. This doesn’t strike most people as the slogan of a farm, which is what makes it so interesting.

This place is so much more than just a farm; it’s a home, workplace, and haven for the developmentally disabled in the region. Out of their shop, they sell their own award winning cheese and other dairy products, veggies, fruit, meat, and trinkets, all of which are made on site. Each one lovingly produced by residents of Hohepa who struggle with a disability such as Autism or Down syndrome. The residents take pride in their work, whether it be milking, feeding the calves, or making cheese, candles, figurines, or scarves.

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As I am majoring in agricultural communications at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, this farm has been right up my alley as far has being in constant contact with people. I chose to come to New Zealand on the national expedition and internship because the agricultural systems are so different between the US and here. However, I have learned so much more than just agriculture, due in part to having been paired with an internship for the latter portion of the trip at this very unique farm.

Any of these processes look easy when a professional takes them on, even one with a disability. Many of the residents almost single-handedly take on tasks daily, taking pride in the fruits of their efforts.

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A program like this one is highly valued by the members of the community as well as the residents, as, unfortunately, it is common practice to institutionalize the disabled. Thanks to Hohepa, many have gained a haven with like-minded individuals who care greatly about each other.

 

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