‘I loved being at Rooted & Booted, in an outdoor environment where you can do different jobs. I liked helping around the farm and got lots of experience doing different things. Some of the jobs I liked helping with was making up hanging baskets, making the beds for vegetables and harvesting vegetables. I would recommend going there because the staff are friendly and they explain everything to you. If you don’t like doing the stuff they ask you to do, they ask if you would like to do something else, but I liked all the activities. When I first started I was unsure what they expected me to do and I didn’t have much confidence. But when I got to know the staff and the routine, I got more confident in myself. Since being there I have realised that I can do a lot more things than I thought.’
Adehle has had a fantastic time at Rooted & Booted. Each of the young adults there have all been so different but the staff got to know Adehle and her specific needs. They spent time with her and took the time to explain what needed doing until she had a good understanding of what the goal was and how to achieve it. She has come home after a day at Rooted & Booted and been able to tell us what she has done and it has been so obvious how much she has enjoyed it. She has enjoyed the friendships that have developed and has felt an important part of the group.
Rooted & Booted offers a unique experience for their young people because the staff have an in-depth and personal understanding of the challenges they face. Rooted & Booted is a very practical and visionary step forward in meeting the lifelong challenge for our children to live meaningful lives. There is a temptation for society to write these young people off and assume that they don’t need a great quality of life. However, Rooted & Booted clearly demonstrate that each life can be productive and beautiful if planted and nurtured in the right manner.
It is particularly vital that young people with special needs are in a safe, secure environment. The farm is very peaceful and set in a beautiful area and Adehle has responded well to that. The troopers enjoy being on a proper working farm with all its challenges and they have learnt to look at the bigger picture. There is plenty of space for new projects but it’s not overwhelming. I think the various sites on the farm and all the lovely fields helps them put each project into its place, they can move from each area in a way that feels safe emotionally and mentally. That they get to drive the Gator helps them connect each area and focus on getting to the next project whilst adding a lot of excitement and independence.
Adehle has found it exciting to think how something she has prepared such as the vegetable beds will be so productive as the crops grow. She has enjoyed telling us about the no-dig technique that is being tried this year. We have seen her confidence grow as she has seen the projects she has been involved in develop. She has gradually been given more responsibility and been able to respond to the expectation and trust that she is capable of performing a task. She has been valued as a team member and encouraged to build on that.
Although the year has been curtailed due to Covid, Adehle has benefited hugely from her time at Rooted & Booted. We can see how much more prepared she is for her long-term goal of finding gainful employment in a horticultural setting. She has been given a wonderful reference and the pictures of her time are very precious, providing a fantastic reminder of what she has achieved and is capable of as she moves further along her pathway to independence.
Rooted & Booted provides a fantastic opportunity for those who want to learn about growing their own food and they gain valuable work and life experiences that young folk with or without a disability rarely get the chance to do these days. Set in a lovely part of the countryside on a beautiful farm, away from the hustle and bustle of towns and main roads, Rooted & Booted gives the feel of how rural life should be. David, Fiona and the star of the show, Tara, make you feel incredibly welcome and part of their extended family working together to grow tasty vegetables from seed to harvest. Alongside growing vegetables, we also get stuck into all sorts of farming activities. All the students I support from Derwen College, including Adehle, love their time here working outside with great people gaining valuable life skills across the board. Rooted & Booted is a wonderful service run by wonderful people and I can’t recommend it enough for those who need and want the experiences offered, whoever they may be. Five stars from me and my students.