Sometimes something that doesn’t sound particularly intriguing turns out to be a real gem. So it was with a Foodie Adventure visit to La Fageda, an enterprise that makes yogurt, ice cream, jams and jellies.
It wasn’t so much the products that were interesting, it was the story that began in 1982 when Cristobal Colon began turning a dream into reality. Colon, a psychiatrist who worked in a mental hospital, was intrigued by the notion that some mentally impaired people could have productive and meaningful lives rather than languish in a hospital where the only treatment was medication.
Initially he bought a few cows and property in a sun dappled forest in the Garrotxa area of Catalonia. With 17 patients that he considered able, he began a dairy farm. Today it is a large operation with 500 cows and 280 employees, 160 of whom are mentally challenged.
There is ample opportunity for the workers to be successful. Some are involved in production and packaging. Others may tend the 500 milk producing cows or work in the gardens that provide food for residents as well as ingredients for products or tend the grounds. Every effort is made to connect the individual with a job that matches his/her ability resulting in a sense of self worth and contentment.
Not only are these people cared for as employees, Colon created a residential care facility for those who at age 65 have no family or caregiver. When they are no longer able to work, they have a safe and nurturing place to live. Too, they can return to the property, roam the grounds and enjoy the benefits of nature.
La Fageda is an incredibly touching success story and a model for like effort. It hosts visitors from all over the world who want to learn how combining professional and mentally challenged people meshes to form a viable business as well as opportunity for those who are not always considered useful.
Without question, Colon’s dream is one that in becoming real has made incredible difference in the lives of people who otherwise would have little opportunity and their families. It is this kind of innovative thinking that helps the world become a better place, and these days that is something to which not too much credit can be given. I love the story.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind