For the residents at Ballycliffe Lodge nursing home in Ajax, visiting WindReach Farm is about bringing back old memories and making new ones. Every year, a group of seniors from the home take the bus (sometimes a very bumpy ride) to WindReach Farm, mainly to go apple picking, but to enjoy some other activities as well. This is an outing that they look forward to for the whole summer, and they thoroughly enjoy every second of their time on the farm.
For some, the farm itself brings back many memories from their childhood, or even from their adult years. A lot of the residents either grew up living on farms, or at least remember visiting someone else’s farm sometime during their earlier years. The ‘fresh’ farm air often starts some storytelling of how they had to get up before the sun to help milk the cows, or gather fresh eggs, before making the long trek to school. They tell of helping out in the fields during harvest time, and falling into bed at the end of the day, exhausted from all of the hard work they had done. But not once will you hear one complaint about all of the work that came with living one a farm, because the advantages greatly outweighed the disadvantages. This includes things like having fresh milk, eggs, fruits, and vegetables that tasted better knowing that so much hard work went into getting them. There was also the time spent with family in the evenings as everyone gathered around the wood stove, or out on the porch. It was a much simpler time. Being able to take a wagon ride and see the farm animals at WindReach reminds the residents of those years gone by, and allows them the chance to reminisce about them.
For others, the apple-picking brings back good memories as well. Many remember going apple-picking in the fall with their families when they were children, and then taking their own children as well. For one resident, it brings back memories of the 10 years she spent working in an apple orchard. She reminisces about having to climb 20-foot ladders to reach the highest apples, and having to sort through the thousands of apples that were picked. “I was much younger then” she laughs. She now uses a wheelchair, but is thankful that WindReach is so accessible that she is able to still pick apples like she did years ago.
The residents at Ballycliffe Lodge would not be able to have the experience of going on a wagon ride, feeding farm animals, and picking apples, if it were not for WindReach Farm. As most of them have limited mobility, it is great to know that they can go to WindReach and not have to worry about obstacles that limit where they go. They have the chance of getting out of the facility to get fresh air, and gaining some of their independence back, even just for a few hours. It is a chance to remember all of the happy times that they have had over the years, and share in making new memories with other residents and staff. On behalf of the residents at Ballycliffe Lodge, thank you WindReach Farm and all the wonderful staff who allow us to have this great experience year after year!