Women with disabilities in a berry fieldAfter a few weeks in Chelsea, the non-native Notre Dame Interns, Camille Patton and Angela Ly, began to brainstorm activities to do in the area. After several minutes of dedicated Google research, they decided upon berry picking. They thought, “why not share the fun with the residents? It should be easy to plan.”

a man with developmental disabilities
Let the Planning Begin

Little did they know what laid ahead of them. They overlooked the simple fact that to pick berries, they needed to be in season. Apparently, the only thing in season close by was asparagus. Although it was tempting, for some reason, asparagus pie just didn’t have a ring to it.

The interns made an executive decision to look for other farms with better things to pick.

people picking berries in a field
Forging a New Plan

After days of researching and endless calls, the interns eventually settled on strawberry picking at a farm not too far away.

The day finally arrived, and the residents embarked on their strawberry picking adventure. It was a successful morning of picking, perhaps too successful. Residents took proud roles as berry pickers and bucket holders, collecting quite a bounty. By the time everyone got back, the residents were faced with the problem of what to do with all these strawberries. But never fear, the interns are here!

We have Berries … Now What?

With the help of dedicated residents they ended up washing/cutting/packing 20 bags of strawberries, baking 4 pies, making 4 pots of jam, and freezing 2 bags of residual strawberries to distribute to the whole center. Were the red-stained hands, sticky counters, a kitchen that looked suspiciously more messy than any normal day, and piles of dirty dishes worth the effort? Absolutely. Seeing the smiles and content bellies of the residents and staff made it all worthwhile!

It was definitely an adventure for the two interns 🙂 But they hope that residents will keep picking produce, and maybe go for asparagus next time …

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of St. Louis Spirit newsletter.

You can read it online or download the issue in its entirety here.

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