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May 31, 2021

Helping Residents Heal at Ellsworth Acres

In 2017, Erin Helms worked in the Cleveland area, providing recovery housing to women after treatment. Erin wished for something more for the women: a learning sanctuary with a long-term approach to recovery. 

For anyone, an opportunity to work with the soil and grow food can provide more than just sustenance but also a chance to heal and learn. This is recognized at Ellsworth Acres—a working farm that Helms now directs. Ellsworth Acres is also a training farm for women in recovery from substance abuse disorder, including a recovery home that houses eight residents.  

Owned and operated by The Briermost Foundation in  North Royalton, Ohio, Ellsworth Acres is committed to helping residents learn how they can heal their self-worth, be productive members of society, and give back. The farm believes that for residents, developing purpose-filled lives is a critical part of the recovery process. 

Residents and staff at Ellsworth Acres work to ensure that both humans and plants on the farm thrive. The farm improves and grows every year, thanks to its farm manager and the women who live and work on the farm every day. The residents come from all kinds of backgrounds; some are familiar with farming and gardening while others have never planted anything. They are all taught how to care for the crops from seed to harvest and share responsibility for the success or failure of the plants.  

Erin and her team will use a grant from the Brighter Future Fund to build an additional hoop house. This hoop house will give them more control over growing conditions to grow better yields, and extend their growing season, allowing them the opportunity to participate in the full local farmers market season.  

American Farmland Trust, with the help of Tillamook Creamery, launched the Brighter Future Fund to support farmers in the face of pressing challenges like climate change and COVID-19.  

An extended growing season also allows the farm to expand their training program. Of the 37 residents who have engaged in the program since 2017, 94% moved into stable living environments and 98% are connected to their chosen pathway to recovery. The additional hoop house will bolster the farm’s capacity and allow more women to develop the kind of skills they need for a happy and successful future.  

Brighter Future Fund

Informed by farmers, built on experience, and inspired by you. AFT’s Brighter Future Fund carries forward AFT's commitment to addressing inequalities in our agricultural system by providing grants up to $5,000 to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or women farmers nationwide. Help us support another round of inspiring farmers by donating to the fund today! 100% of all funds raised will go directly to farmers to strengthen farm resilience, enhance farm viability, and improve access to land.