ELIJA Changes Lives One Day At A Time

Planting day involved the help of farmers, instructors and of course, the kids.

A unique collaboration in the front yard of a local school is happening between farmers and students. The ELIJA School for Autism—a progressive nonprofit organization in Levittown—and the Fox Hollow Farm have come together to change lives. In the first step of a larger, long-range plan to offer options for people with Autism, this week farmers/educators from South Huntington’s Fox Hollow Farm, Larry Foglia, Heather Forest and Dylan Licoploi, came to The ELIJA School in Levittown to build garden beds. The garden will provide a place to help teach students math concepts such as measuring and counting; science skills such as identifying fruits, vegetables and herbs, harvesting crops and making healthy meals; and the vocational skills of packaging and distributing items to customers and people in need. 

In addition, Randy Horowitz, the school’s associate executive director of program development, said the school based garden project is the first phase of The ELIJA School’s longer-term plan to acquire the 10-acre farm property that Foglia and Forest have lived and worked for decades.

Children from the ELIJA School enjoyed planting and gardening on May 17.

“Through (CSA) people wi th Autism can integrate into the life and community of the farm, and establish connections to surrounding local businesses,” said Horowitz.

Debora Thivierge, founder and executive director also added to the upcoming plans for the school.

“We plan to create job opportunities for individuals with Autism, who would otherwise struggle with finding meaningful employment,” she said.

Foglia is a second-generation farmer whose energy is out-matched only by his generosity. He and his wife, Heather Forest, and Licopoloi, run Fox Hollow Farm in South Huntington, a two-acre plot used to grow vegetables for donations and a vegetable and egg Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. They are dedicated to promoting gardening and farming and preserving farmland on Long Island. Foglia and Forest will be the farm’s primary agricultural consultants, and with a skilled and dedicated team the school plans to raise some 100 varieties of organically grown vegetables for CSA members, farmers’ markets and the local community.

—Submitted by Ellen Christie, The ELIJA Foundation and School

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