Farm-Based Education Helps Children Develop Critical Skills


Green Chimneys was founded on the belief that children will benefit from their interaction with nature and animals. The Green Chimneys Farm & Wildlife Center is home to over 300 farm animals, horses and unreleasable wildlife. As a core component of our programming for children with special needs, the main criteria for each animal’s presence are that they thrive in our care and play a supportive role in education and animal-assisted therapy for the children.

Therapeutic animal-assisted activities range from meeting a dog, cow or rabbit during a session with a trained adult, to assisting with the everyday tasks of feeding, grooming and collecting eggs, to more comprehensive activities such as therapeutic horseback riding, and a dog care and training program to help prepare rescued dogs for adoption. Over time, these animal interactions help children develop critical skills such as trust, self-esteem, empathy, emotional regulation, and responsibility.

Horticulture also plays an important role in the lives of our students, both in the Educational School Garden on the main campus and the multi-acre Boni-Bel Organic Farm. Our garden instructors collaborate closely with the Life Skills class where students cook the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors and incorporate healthy eating habits. During the spring, summer and fall months, students participate in planting, maintenance and harvesting of the crops. In the winter, students learn about the scientific side of horticulture, including plant anatomy and seed propagation in our 600-square-foot greenhouse. Students also learn vocational skills such as making honey and maple syrup, and get involved in basic retail sales at the Country Store at Boni-Bel.

Learn more about our diverse nature-based programs to support education and treatment goals.

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