We Are Growing Opportunity
At Blawesome, we grow over 75 varieties of beautiful, seasonal, organic cut flowers, perennials, and herbs. We work hard to create arrangements that inspire joy and positivity, and we specialize in custom designs that incorporate the free spirit of native wildflowers into the more reserved romanticism of cultivated botanicals. But what truly makes Blawesome special is not just our beautiful flowers; what is most unique about our farm is the community building spirit that our flowers represent.
In the fall of 2015, just ten days before the first day of school, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction shut down a local Charter High School that served at-risk students, and students with disabilities. The decision left hundreds of vulnerable high schoolers with no plan and no place to go. One of those students was my son, Raimee Sorensen.
In the wake of this unexpected and life-altering event, my husband and I decided that Raimee’s next transition should be one that put him on the path towards a life lived as fully and independently as possible. Drawing from past experiences that both inspired joy and showcased Raimee’s skill-sets, we decided to help Raimee start a farm. And not just any farm, but a small, sustainably operated flower farm that would use the beauty of fresh flowers to lift up the community, while simultaneously challenging harmful stereotypes about what it means to live and work with a disability. It was out of this desire that Blawesome Farm was born.
This decision led to a unique partnership with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the creation of Blawesome Farm, which Raimee co-owns and where he currently works full-time alongside three social care farmers who have a passion not just for growing and cultivating the natural beauty that flowers bring to any environment, but for the power that that beauty has to promote positive visibility for some of our most disenfranchised and marginalized community members.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines social determinants of health as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between populations. Health is greatly determined by access to social and economic opportunities, the resources and supports available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities, and the quality of our social interactions and relationships. For individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities, access to quality social and economic opportunities are few and far between. The WHO identifies employment conditions and social exclusion as two key concepts that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.
Farming is an innovative solution to address multiple social determinants of health. Farming provides opportunities to engage in purposeful work, demonstrate competence, test limits, establish meaningful connections (both with nature and people), establish autonomy in a safe and semi-controlled, but not clinical or institutional environment, take risks in a space where there is some measure of predictability in the variables around you, be seen as someone who has worth, and value, and potential.
For everyone, but especially for individuals with I/DD, these are the things that foster growth and positive outcomes, and that impact mental and physical health. Blawesome Farm is working to alter societal perspectives about the potential and capability of individuals living with disabilities.