In the early 1990s, Janice Agarwal was training in England for a job and she noticed something unique.

“In England at that time, many people were training adults with special needs how to do jobs,” Agarwal said. “A good example is the public gardens. Many of them were cared for by adults with special needs, kids with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) were embraced and people saw them for their abilities versus their inabilities. They were appreciated for the skills they brought to the job.”

Janice and her husband David had their own child with special needs and set out to create a community for adults with intellectual disabilities to live, work and socialize.

Five years ago the couple bought land in Zionsville and began a small, micro-farm.

“We started looking at the things we’d need to include to make this work for adults with special needs to train them for jobs — not just on the farm, but for jobs in general,” Agarwal said. “Many of them need a job broken down. They can do a two- or three-step process but throw more than that at them and they don’t know what to do.”

In 2018, the Agarwals launched their non-profit Watch Us Farm and this summer, they started with three adults and began working in farms, neighbors’ homes and local towns.

The concept worked.

“What we did this summer was a test,” Agarwal said. “We took three adults with three totally different levels of ability. We wanted to see how much they could learn and how we could teach them so we could begin writing manuals for the jobs. We figured out their learning styles and tried different tasks and were just in awe. They did even more than I thought they could do and it’s amazing with the right training what can be done.”

Agarwal is thinking about of variety of employment opportunities for the adults in the program ranging from lawn care, gardening, automotive, cleaning and others.

They’re looking at setting up a vocational training program in partnership with Zionsville Community Schools and recently developed a partnership with the town to do various jobs in the community.

“We met with Mayor Tim Haak and others and when we told them what we were doing, they were excited,” Agarwal said. “The departments figured out what kinds of things we could do and we set out painting rails over the Mulberry overpass and cleared trails. The next job on the list is painting the yellow curbs. As we grow, we want to always make time to give back to our community. The town has committed to us that they will find jobs for us and both parties are helping each other out. We’re all working together.”

Haak is very supportive of the partnership.

“When the Agarwals approached us with their idea to partner with the town on job training opportunities, this was a no-brainer for us,” he said. “Through this partnership, we hope to work with the Agarwals to provide Watch Us Farm team members with new skills that will enable them to find meaningful job opportunities in the future. I look forward to expanding our relationship in the coming years and contributing to their positive business model.”

The Agarwals have big plans for the future. They picture a large farm with a farm-to-table restaurant, a beautiful setting for weddings and other events and an area where the entire community can benefit.

“A place like that allows parents to show their kids what farming looks like, what special needs looks like and gives these adults jobs and a place to live and work — a place to belong,” Agarwal said. “Lives are going to be changed. Communities and employers can help and we have amazing volunteers. It’s a much needed thing around the state.”

It also gives hope to families with young children with special needs.

“Parents can see there is hope and a future for their kids. It ups the game and allows them to see it’ll be okay,” Agarwal said. “We all can help each other.

“There is so much potential and amazing talent we could utilize. We’re not there yet, but we could be and we could do it well. The sky is the limit.”

Watch Us Farm recently created a donations area on its website. They are also looking for partners to train and educate students in the program. For more information, visit the website at www.watchusfarm.com.

In the early 1990s, Janice Agarwal was training in England for a job and she noticed something unique.

“In England at that time, many people were training adults with special needs how to do jobs,” Agarwal said. “A good example is the public gardens. Many of them were cared for by adults with special needs, kids with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) were embraced and people saw them for their abilities versus their inabilities. They were appreciated for the skills they brought to the job.”

Janice and her husband David had their own child with special needs and set out to create a community for adults with intellectual disabilities to live, work and socialize.

Five years ago the couple bought land in Zionsville and began a small, micro-farm.

“We started looking at the things we’d need to include to make this work for adults with special needs to train them for jobs — not just on the farm, but for jobs in general,” Agarwal said. “Many of them need a job broken down. They can do a two- or three-step process but throw more than that at them and they don’t know what to do.”

In 2018, the Agarwals launched their non-profit Watch Us Farm and this summer, they started with three adults and began working in farms, neighbors’ homes and local towns.

The concept worked.

“What we did this summer was a test,” Agarwal said. “We took three adults with three totally different levels of ability. We wanted to see how much they could learn and how we could teach them so we could begin writing manuals for the jobs. We figured out their learning styles and tried different tasks and were just in awe. They did even more than I thought they could do and it’s amazing with the right training what can be done.”

Agarwal is thinking about of variety of employment opportunities for the adults in the program ranging from lawn care, gardening, automotive, cleaning and others.

They’re looking at setting up a vocational training program in partnership with Zionsville Community Schools and recently developed a partnership with the town to do various jobs in the community.

“We met with Mayor Tim Haak and others and when we told them what we were doing, they were excited,” Agarwal said. “The departments figured out what kinds of things we could do and we set out painting rails over the Mulberry overpass and cleared trails. The next job on the list is painting the yellow curbs. As we grow, we want to always make time to give back to our community. The town has committed to us that they will find jobs for us and both parties are helping each other out. We’re all working together.”

Haak is very supportive of the partnership.

“When the Agarwals approached us with their idea to partner with the town on job training opportunities, this was a no-brainer for us,” he said. “Through this partnership, we hope to work with the Agarwals to provide Watch Us Farm team members with new skills that will enable them to find meaningful job opportunities in the future. I look forward to expanding our relationship in the coming years and contributing to their positive business model.”

The Agarwals have big plans for the future. They picture a large farm with a farm-to-table restaurant, a beautiful setting for weddings and other events and an area where the entire community can benefit.

“A place like that allows parents to show their kids what farming looks like, what special needs looks like and gives these adults jobs and a place to live and work — a place to belong,” Agarwal said. “Lives are going to be changed. Communities and employers can help and we have amazing volunteers. It’s a much needed thing around the state.”

It also gives hope to families with young children with special needs.

“Parents can see there is hope and a future for their kids. It ups the game and allows them to see it’ll be okay,” Agarwal said. “We all can help each other.

“There is so much potential and amazing talent we could utilize. We’re not there yet, but we could be and we could do it well. The sky is the limit.”

Watch Us Farm recently created a donations area on its website. They are also looking for partners to train and educate students in the program. For more information, visit the website at www.watchusfarm.com.

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you