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Our History

Who we are

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For over a quarter century, WindReach Farm has been providing impactful and life changing programs and services for people of all ages and abilities. Our client list of individuals, families and agencies continues to grow each year as we develop new programs and continually review and update existing programs.

Our Founder, Sandy Mitchell MBE, born with cerebral palsy and a three time equestrian Paralympian, recognized early in life the value and impact of an accessible farm and natural environment for individuals with special needs of all ages.  Animals and fresh country air combined with barrier free design is good for everyone’s overall mental health and well-being. Sandy’s vision to inspire, empower, and change lives turns ordinary experiences into extraordinary experiences for our visitors and program participants.

Despite being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Sandy developed a keen interest in farming during his teen years and set about pursuing his dream of one day opening a fully-accessible farm. In 1979, Sandy acquired a farm in Ontario, where the seeds of WindReach were sown, a place where people with special needs could enjoy all aspects of farm life. After purchasing the WindReach property in 1985, the first visitors were invited for trial runs 2 years later. There were only a few animals, but the visitors loved the farm and wanted to return. The first complete season was 1988 when about 200 visitors came out. The farm had become wheelchair accessible with a nature trail and boardwalk and paving in front of the barn. In 1989, the Visitor’s Centre was officially opened and numbers really started to grow. By 1993, the farm welcomed nearly 5,000 visitors. Today, about 20,000 users access the farm’s programs throughout the year.

Sandy built the stables at WindReach Farm in 2002. He designed them to be fully accessible and meet the needs of both elite equestrian riders and pleasure riders alike.  The Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program started running in 2004 and has been growing ever since. Currently, programs include a School Therapeutic Riding Program, which is open to elementary and high schools in the Durham Region, WindReach Special Needs Riding lessons, and group lessons by the Durham Therapeutic Riding Association.

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On June 15, 1989, WindReach Farm officially opened. Along with the occasion, Sandy gave a speech in commemoration  of the occasion

Sandy's Speech

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Our History, a Timeline

1985:

A Vision

1980's

WindReach Farm is purchased

First animals arrive

~125 visitors over the year

1986

Visitors double to ~250

Visitors double again to ~500

Official opening

1989

1990's

First High School Co-Op students

Barn renovation completed

~1,000 annual visitors

Accommodation Program Begins

1991

~2,500 annual visitors

Museum opens

Established as a charity

~6,000 annual visitors

Children Centre Opens

Welcome Centre Opens

1997

1999

Sandy recieves "Member of the British Empire"

~16,000 annual visitors

2000's

Royal Assisted Tour Program

Stable Built and added to WindReach Farm

Hosted Paralympic Trials

15 Year Anniversary

2004

2010's

Wool Program

Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence

2013

Fields developed and Partnership with Durham College Farm program

Launch of Learning-4-Life

2014

2015

Launch of Beyond the Farm Gate

Acres of Fun Summer Camp

2017

Trillium Grant for Horticultural Therapy Program

RCMP Musical Ride

And many more years to come!