Farming on Wheels
March 20th 2000
In 1991 an auto accident left Marshall partially paralyzed. While in therapy he decided to continue farming. He not only decided to keep on farming but to do as much of the work as possible. Which meant he would have to adapt tools and equipment to overcome his disability. Due to the hard work of all involved, and the public's rapid acceptance of the Herb Blossom Express product line his farm along with it's goal teach farming to the physically challenged is fast becoming a reality. Herb Blossom Express has recently been awarded non-profit status as a handicapped educational institution... Many thanks Marshall & Marilyn Loskot
The Herb Blossom Express
Farms and Gardens for the Handicapped Inc.
During the last 5 years our founder, Mr. Loskot, has developed special tools, inexpensive raised beds, handicapped equipped tractors and a 15 foot counter balanced farm gate system that enables a person in a wheelchair to opened and closed gates with just one hand. So, that each handicapped or elderly person doesn't have to re-invent these devices he decide open his farm to the public. The demonstration farm makes these and more designs available to the elderly and handicapped. All of the devices are working models and can be seen on prearranged tours at the farm. New devices are being developed as funds and time permits. One of our recent tours hosted a group physical therapist from war torn El Salvador. They wish to teach their war ravaged handicapped patients how to grow their own food from a wheelchair etc. We also work with Breaking New Ground. Breaking New Ground is a farm oriented handicap enabling program at Purdue University 1-800-825-4264. We have obtained copies of their designs and resources. This information is also available to our clients and visitors upon request.
We decided to share our gardening program with the public because of the mental depression a severely injured person experiences when they wake up in the hospital and must rehabilitate themselves. I know about this depression because I have experienced it first hand. I was involved in a truck accident that tore the aorta from my heart. When I woke up in ICU I had double vision, no feeling below the chest, spastic vocal cords and a right arm so atrophied that I couldn't squeeze a 1/2 pound of pressure between my thumb and fingers. I was so depressed that I had wondered why the hospital spent a half million dollars to save me. I spent days in the hospital thinking about all the things in my life I could no longer enjoy. The goals I could no longer achieve. The burden I would be placing on my wife and family. I believed that death might be preferable to a life as a cripple. But I found a new life growing in my garden. I felt happy and useful producing food and flowers for our home. I became excited about the new possibilities and established new goals. Gardening opened my life up and pushed depression away.
Our garden has now become a small specialty crop demonstration farm. We have a farm product line called The Herb Blossom Express. The farm produces Asian pears, Bartlett pears, Rome apples, Timber bamboo, German Red Garlic and culinary herb blossoms. The last two items are sold in limited amounts fresh but we have developed a larger market for them as organically grown culinary herb blends. The mail order demand for these blends (Cajun, Italian, Mayan Barboca and American herb blends) has been so tremendous that we sell out every year.
If you want to see smiles and happy people just watch a group of gardeners trade recipes and gardening information. Successful gardening is happiness worth sharing. Just try it and see.
Farms and Gardens for the Handicapped Inc. has just received its letter of determination from the IRS. This letter gives us the qualifications necessary to submit proposals for grant funding and to solicit tax deductible donations of money, construction materials and skilled labor from businesses and the general public as a charitable, educational, non-profit organization.
During the next few months we hope identify and contact funding resources through the Grant Resource Center in Redding California. I intend to give speeches about the needs of our organization at the local Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations. I hope to put together a paid staff (commissioned) with business backgrounds to help write our grant proposals. This type of staff is necessary to submit detailed business proposals for our programs to resource organizations that have goals of funding handicapped, education projects. I have already identified about 200 organizations with these goals. Grant funds will be used initally as start up money to run a small office that will be used to submit grant proposals, obtain labor, construction materials and commitments to build our proposed garden projects. The funds will also help finance fundraising events that will generate money to fund continuing educational garden therapy programs and gardens. We have a small volunteer staff at the present time but feel a need to reach out into the community and share information and resources with the elderly and handicapped. Our goal is to teach gardening programs in raised beds built at senior centers and rehabilitation facilities. Then, as labor, materials and funds permit, we want to build raised garden beds at the homes of our handicapped and elderly clients. We will also supply additional information and a marketing outlet as necessary, to expand the gardens into a small specialty crop farm business. Most people with disabilities could use a little extra income. The California Department of Rehabilitation has refused to help the disabled become farmers unless the new farm will be completely self supporting within one year (salaries, land payments, adaptive equipment, farm machinery, medical insurance, taxes, permits, seed stock etc.. That a pretty tall order for any new farm or business. Our information is design to enable a person to gradually build a small farm as he or she learns and adapts to a completely new way of life.