Erin Helms, an independently licensed chemical dependency counselor, has worked in a number of different recovery settings throughout the country. In early 2017, Erin was working in the Cleveland area, placing women in recovery housing after treatment. The options for placement were not what she had hoped for. She was looking for a place that could teach women a new skill, possibly something with agriculture, a place that could offer a home-like setting, with a long-term approach to recovery and reentry. From these ideas and desires, and when her search proved fruitless, Erin created Ellsworth Acres in North Royalton. Ellsworth Acres is a three-and-a-half acre, six-bedroom recovery home that houses eight residents and a house manager.
The facility provides housing and training for women in recovery from addiction, offering agricultural training opportunities and treating residents with respect and dignity as they learn to live sober. The training program aims to help them gain tangible skills that are transferable to a multitude of employment opportunities in the larger world.
Women learn many skills while in the paid training program: how to plant and take care of seeds that grow into produce and how to use that produce in baked goods and other items that are sold at markets and on the farm for a profit. They also learn about accounting and financial risks/rewards. “This type of training is done in part to help break the cycle of instant gratification that often occurs within addiction,” Erin explains.
The land at Ellsworth Acres is new to agriculture, so residents work to discover what grows best. The farm manager and the accountant teach the residents about the ins and outs of making and selling produce and baked goods (including vegan and non vegan pies, jellies and jams) at the Old Brooklyn Farmers Market, as well as supplying three Cleveland area restaurants with produce. Erin hopes that in the near future, Ellsworth Acres will be self-sustainable through these practices. The farm is currently subsidised with a number of grants that the staff has pieced together.
This summer, Ellsworth Acres is hosting monthly yoga classes on the farm.The classes were created “for fundraising purposes, as a way to bring awareness to the program, break down social stigmas, and as a venue for residents to sell their goods,” Erin states. It’s an opportunity for womxn of all types to breathe, move, and support one another. The next class is August 24 at 10 a.m; you can sign up here.
On Saturday, October 12, Ellsworth Acres will host a womxn only, full moon, farm to table dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Her Table event is designed to provide a unique experience to support and elevate womxn out loud. Erin expects that it will be “a special, purposeful evening with genuine fun.” Evening activities will include music, tarot card readings, a braid bar, tincture takeaways, market goods, a flower bouquet-making station, and more. Mocktails will be served, as this is an alcohol-free event.
There’s so much going on at Ellsworth Acres, all of it worthwhile, all of it exciting. If you would like to join in the excitement, visit https://www.ellsworthacres.org/donate for ways to donate and become involved.