The Lemonade Farmhouse: Farm Therapy for Kids with Special Needs
Allendale, Michigan has a new outlet for kids with special needs.
The Lemonade Farmhouse is a new sensory-friendly petting farm offering a safe place for kids to spend one-on-one time with animals.
It is free to visit, by appointment. Read on to learn more about visiting and how you can make an appointment.
The Lemonade Farmhouse
8461 Lake Michigan Dr, Allendale MI 49401
How The Lemonade Farmhouse Got Started
When the COVID shutdowns hit in March, Sarah Postma of Allendale, MI found she had lost her purpose.
Her work in Jenison Public Schools Early Childhood Center had come to a screeching halt. She missed interacting with her PreK students and found comfort with her farm animals.
Sarah’s work at JPS centered around students who have experienced trauma or have behavior struggles, some having been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, or autism. Her experience at school, paired with her own personal journey with anxiety, helped her see a way to live into her purpose and help others at the same time.
When a friend suggested that Sarah open a therapy farm when she retired, the lightbulb went off. Why wait, she thought? I already have the animals and the farm. I just need to open my doors to kiddos and let them know I’m here.
And that was that.
“Life has definitely thrown me a few bushels of lemons, and my sister always told me I’m great at turning them into lemonade. Our home was a life lemon. The farm was created during Covid. And most of the animals were either rehomed here or rescued. This is a place where we look for the positive and celebrate the little things. This is a place for kids who don’t usually fit in to feel accepted and loved. This place is our lemonade.”
Over the summer, Sarah worked to get things ready for visitors. In August, she held a garage sale/Venmo fundraiser that brought in $700 for the farm for upgrades like a sunshade and enlarging the animal pen. People also donated items.
September saw the farm welcome some of its first guests.
Since then, Sarah has been working to get the word out about the farm, saying, “More than anything I just want parents to know this is available for their kids. I’ve been so lucky to have so many families be a part of this, and I get thank-you’d from parents telling me how much this means to their kids. That’s why I do this. “
How The Lemonade Farm Works
Who is the Farm For?
The Lemonade Farm is for kids ages 4-17 who have special needs and could benefit from a safe place to experience animals.
How Do Sessions Work?
Visits are by appointment only. Appointments can be every week, once a month, or just a one-time visit.
Sessions are 30 minutes long and are for one child at a time. Sarah does ask that siblings not attend.
During their visit, kids get to interact with the animals in a way that’s best for them. Sarah is flexible and offers a variety of activities. Some kids want to go find eggs, feed the goats, or brush the animals. Others want to sit and snuggle with a kitty or a bunny. It’s directed by the child.
The Lemonade Farm is home to a variety of farm animals, including goats, chickens, dogs, bunnies, and cats.
This is a free service but donations are always appreciated.
Visits are offered M-Thur at 4:30 p, 5 pm, and 5:30 pm.
How You Can Help
There are several ways you can help The Lemonade Farmhouse succeed.
1) Spread the word about The Lemonade Farmhouse. Help Sarah reach kiddos and families who could benefit from this service. Sending this article to a few friends would be helpful.
2) Email Sarah if you’re interested in making a donation or helping them work toward nonprofit status. Sarah and her husband are new to this process and the paperwork to get nonprofit status is a little daunting.