RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — A Rapid City farm is changing lives. It’s known as LMB or “Live Move Be Farms” and welcomes people with autism or other neurodevelopmental differences.
Through farming, planting, and interacting, those who work at LMB Farms are gaining important life skills. The idea of Live Move Be Farms came from licensed professional counselor Craig Mullens and his wife.
Black Hills Works provided this location and the farm began operations in the Spring of 2018.
“So one of the big reasons we are doing this is to provide vocational experience because they tend to have a hard time finding a job and then the second piece is to provide a community, a place where they belong. A place where when they are seen, it’s like ‘Hey Welcome!’ ‘Hey how was your weekend, how was your day, what have you been up to?'” Mullens said.
Adults from Black Hills Works and the teens at LMB Farms are able to work on their social skills through interactions with the volunteers but also with each other.
“Being able to relate with each other, be able to ask questions. When there is conflict when they get into an argument, when there is a fight to be able to work that out and to say ‘hey you hurt my feeling when you did this, ‘oh it hurt my feelings when you did this’ ‘okay, I’m sorry’ ‘I forgive you.’ ‘Alright let’s get back to picking watermelons, pruning leaves, panting seeds,” Mullens said.
Brady Brown is a 9th grader at Stevens High School who works at LMB Farms.
“So what we have right there is kale and then we have all kinds of pumpkins and then way over there we have corn,” Brady Brown said.
Brady has worked here for two summers and says he has learned quite a bit.
“I don’t know where to start, I learned a lot, I learned how to work with people with disabilities and understand them a lot more and I learned how to use the power tools and that’s a useful skill and I also got to learn how to put enough acid into the hydroponic basin so that we have not too much but not too little so that it can grow,” Brown said.
LMB Farms is a nonprofit organization that is run by volunteers. Dave Sisson, a retired teacher, is a volunteer who has had the chance to work with Brady both summers.
“I think he likes to be independent, there’s parts of this where he can’t be. He needs supervision as we went through the process from planting the seed to transferring the seedling to the growing tree, washing off the tray. But one of the things I’ll say he really likes is the powerwasher,” Dave Sisson, volunteer, said.
“I just think it’s a lot of fun because of the power it has,” Brown said.
Sisson says he has seen Brady grow a lot and enjoys watching him interact with the others.
“Watching Brady work with those guys. He told me one time, ‘I love the clients at Black Hills Workshop and that’s a big step because he then is mentoring them to some degree,” Sisson said.
Mullens says LMB Farms is intended to provide a space for those kinds of relationships to take place.
“If they have autism or if they have a neurodevelopmental difference, one of the things that’s recommended is that they work on their social skills and our goal here is to provide as natural as possible a place for them to work on those social skills,” Mullens said.
“When I get to work with people that are like me, it gives me the sense of feeling that I’m not alone and somebody else is going through the exact same thing as me,” Brown said.
Come harvest season, the produce grown at LMB Farms is shipped off to the community.
“To be able to see them grow grow grow and then by the end, these big lettuces that are being shipped off to the farmers market, community action, or the hospital, it’s exciting to us,” Mullens said.
While summer has now ended for Brady, the pumpkins he grew this summer are growing just in time for fall.
“I was definitely excited when I heard we were going to plant some pumpkins,” Brown said.
LMB Farms will be hosting a pumpkin patch event later this month or early October. The teens who work there over the summer will return to give out pumpkins they planted.
Stay updated on the events and activities happening at LMB Farms via their Facebook page.