GardenLast spring, Strides Program participants and staff began keeping a vegetable garden in the grounds of HorseAbility, on the SUNY Old Westbury campus where the Goodwill program operates in Long Island.

And now, they are enjoying the benefits of their hard work: they are eating the vegetables and given them away to friends and whomever want some.

Garden“We requested HorseAbility a small plot of land near our front door to grow a garden,” comments Program Supervisor Alix Sugarman. “The ground was very uneven and full of weeds. Before adding new top soil and planting seeds, we raked, weeded and turned up the soil. We watered the plot daily and weeded incoming grass and dandelions.”

GardenSugarman says that the crew was concerned about being unable to grow anything due to the unpredictable spring weather, but at last, some vegetables have blossomed. So far, the team has noticed squash, gourds, cucumbers, snap peas, string beans, asparagus and marigolds. Experts have helped identify what produce is eatable.

GardenThe first products turned out to be inedible decorative gourds. Strides’ daily art group used the first gourds and snap peas as inspiration for artwork. They examined the shapes and colors of the vegetables.

Last spring, John, a HorseAbility volunteer helped find some wood to close off the plot. The program participants made “Thank-you” cards to express their gratitude to John.

Garden“This fall, we grew turnips, basil, marigolds, and anemone with the help of David, Strides new Rehab Tech, who has quite a green thumb!” notes Sugarman. “Our group has seen how each of these plants grew from seed. They water and pruned the plants each morning.”

GardenGoodwill NY-NJ partners with HorseAbility to operate Strides, a non-traditional Day Habilitation program at a working horse farm, to teach individuals with Developmental Disabilities the necessary skills to lead self-sufficient lives. The Long Island Day Habilitation program incorporates Equine Assisted Learning to help participants reach their training and employment goals. Through work with horses, these individuals are finding ways to improve their quality of life by learning new skills and a trade.

Empire State College- SUNY Campus
223 Store Hill Road; Old Westbury, NY 11568

From Manhattan, take the LIE to exit 41 N (106/107). Stay LEFT and take Rt. 107, entrance to the college on the left. Follow the “HorseAbility” signs and red arrows.

For more information about Goodwill at HorseAbility in, please contact Alix Sugarman at (917) 769-4387 or


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