Sep 25, 2017

The Root Farm - A Challenging Place

 Sometimes the name says it all such as “Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial.” Other times the name is misleading.  Such was the case with the Root Farm in Sauquoit near Utica.  I was expecting a farm growing beets, carrots and other root vegetables. It turns out it is named for its founder Alice Root. The name does not do it justice. 

Yes, it does grow things. In fact it has a Horticulture Center that includes an educational greenhouse, gardens, maple syrup production, honey production, a chicken coop and so much more.  Their hydroponic greenhouse, called the Freight Farm, produces two acres of lettuce in just a few days. It is water efficient, weed free, and herbicides are not necessary. And it produces year round. They also operate a coop and offer unique programs like healthy cooking classes. 

The Farm has expanded to a new location on 100 acres in Sauquoit near Utica.  It is a non-profit organization with an Equine Assisted Therapy Center and works with the Upstate Cerebral Palsy group. It has been proven beneficial for those with autism, Down syndrome,developmental delays, mental health challenges, and soldiers suffering from post-
traumatic stress syndrome and war-related injuries . While I was there a couple of youngsters arrived for their lessons.  The Equine part is open to everyone for private lessons, adaptive riding, recreation riding, hippotherapy and vaulting. From the pictures I saw people can be taught to stand on a moving horse.  A great confidence builder, I would think.

I was intrigued by their Action Track wheelchairs that allow wheelchair-bound people to go just about anywhere.  It is all-weather, all-terrain, and all-purpose. There is even one that will allow the individual to enjoy the outdoors in an upright position. While I was there they were putting the finishing touches on the rock climbing wall and zip line. Their Challenge Course is incredible. It is a state of the art outdoor adventure center. It is the
only one in New York State. There are several Multiple Physical Organization Development areas for team building.  The high rope course has six challenges designed for able-bodied people as well as those with limited use of their lower extremities. People in wheelchairs (or those who feel they cannot do the course) can use their customized harness seat and suspension system.  The course has six components: Burma Bridge, Cargo Wall, I Can Do it Bridge, Monkey Rings, Horizontal ladder, and Rope Vine. I watched a fit, young able-bodied lady walk across the Burma Bridge and thought “I can do that.” Next was the

Cargo Net which was harder but still doable. When she reached the Monkey Rings I was glad I didn’t try.  I would have to use the harness seat. It was very impressive. The zip line covers 1000 feet and, it too, is handicap accessible. The name Root Farm just doesn’t tell the whole story. 

After that I felt I needed something more relaxing so I went to the
Utica Zoo which is open year round. It was relaxing and there were people who work nearby enjoying their lunch at the zoo. The zoo his home to the World’s largest watering can, a beautiful all white peacock, and red pandas. They offer several animal encounters included one with the red pandas but they are sold out for the rest of the year. I was in time to watch the camels being fed.