Angie Korkowski believes that farming can be beneficial to healing addicts.
When a man who has been drug-addicted on the Downtown Eastside bottle-feeds a calf, “a softening takes place,” she says.
But a project that would combine supportive recovery and farming for 20 men in Abbotsford will not go forward due to issues with the land.
Despite the project being approved by council in October, Joshua House – a Christian organization that currently runs recovery homes in Abbotsford for men with addictions – cannot proceed with plans for two 10-bed recovery homes.
The owner of the land can no longer offer the organization a lease renewal past February 2015.
Now Joshua House is looking for a new land option for helping the men in need – but even a new location will still slow the process and potentially leave 20 men without a recovery resource.
Korkowski, executive director of Joshua House, has been living on the farm in the 29000 block of Fraser Highway with her husband Richard, preparing the site.
She said they felt it could be up and running in a few months with the first home filled right away.
“It’s a sad day for Joshua House.”
The organization began its application in 2010. The project went to public hearing and was approved by council.
Korkowski said the application process was expensive for the non-profit group, not to mention the cost of the many improvements done on the property, and now they are back at square one.
She said there is no malice towards the landowner who cannot renew the lease, but “now there is nowhere for us to go.”
Korkowski currently has many animals on the farm – including 100 chickens, four pigs, three cows and numerous baby and mature goats – which she imagines must be sold if they can’t find a new location soon.
In addition to group therapy and 12-step programs, the men would be involved in taking care of the animals and the gardens.
That would also help the organization become more self-sufficient, with the food being grown to feed the men on the farm and in the recovery homes located within Abbotsford. The farm also adds to Joshua House’s income by selling eggs and free-range beef to the public. It would also give the men skills they could use to find employment after recovery.
“We are an agricultural community – there are a lot of farm jobs that the men could get potentially, once they graduate the program.”
Some of the men who are in the in-town facilities have requested to be on the farm, and Korkowski said she has heard from a local street ministry that some homeless men have inquired about going to the farm.
For now, Korkowski is concerned about the impact on men who could have started their journey to recovery.
“It’s going to be a huge loss. We had a waiting list and we have to keep turning (men) away because our houses are full and the farm isn’t up and running yet.”
Korkowski said it is difficult to find a location because they can’t just purchase land for recovery homes. They must once again bring the application through the municipal government, including neighbourhood meetings and a public hearing – and there is always a possibility the plan will be rejected.
Joshua House is now looking for a four- to six-acre farm with a long-term rental, or lease with an option to own, as soon as possible. The site would preferably have two homes and must have a barn to keep animals.
She said the ministry is ready to do modifications, remodelling and everything else necessary to get the site up and running.
“We don’t mind hard work. We’ve done that all our lives.”
For information visit www.yahwehsavesrecovery.ca.