We have been fans of Cape Abilities for years. Not only is their mission to serve individuals with disabilities on Cape Cod through multiple programs of support incredible, but they also employ many of their clients at their farm on Route 6A in Dennis where they not only grow their own vegetables and seedlings, but they also sell the products from a variety of local makers and artisans we love. This is why, when we collect our suggested $5 donation at the entrance of the LoveLocal Fest :: Holiday Edition, we have chosen to donate the proceeds to this amazing organization.
In the meantime, we caught up with the Farm manager, Tracey Fraser to learn more about her and the organization she so proudly represents.
What is your connection to Cape Cod? How did you end up here?
I’m a very lucky wash-ashore. My grandparents, who first traveled to the Cape, Chatham, in the early 1940’s, started what has grown into an annual tradition for four generations strong – summer family reunions on the elbow of Cape Cod. This summer we guessed my mom has sat on Hardings Beach, in the same spot, for 75+ years. My family jokes that the activities, heck even the menu, hasn’t changed over all those decades. Days are filled with sand, surf and immense gratitude for this arm extending out in the sea. It’s the precious things the shops don’t sell, the simple gifts of this land that we all love. My grandmother often said, “Before you reach your journey’s end, go find the simple gifts on beautiful Cape Cod.”
As a very young child I said I would live on the Cape and after many years that dream came true in 2014. My husband and I decided the rat race of living/commuting in the New Jersey/New York area was no longer the life-style we enjoyed. Over the years, we had developed a mutual love for the Cape, beyond summer family reunions. September thru May stole our hearts and we decided to make a change.
Tell us about your position within Cape Abilities. What is your favorite thing about working for the organization?
I am the manager of Cape Abilities Farm, one of our social enterprises. The farm and all of our social enterprises exist to provide meaningful skill/vocational training and jobs for people with disabilities, to raise revenue for all Cape Abilities programs and to promote awareness of our mission. At the farm, we strive to serve as a hub in the community to promote local sustainable farming by producing high quality food and products. We grow and provide fresh produce – tomatoes, lettuce & greens, cucumbers – and beautiful flowers – annuals and perennials – and herbs – available to the community thru the farm store, our Chatham store, farmer’s markets, local restaurants and food pantries.
We also strive to support local businesses that have a positive impact on the local economy by offering products from over 25 Cape Cod entrepreneurs – 100% Cape Cod made merchandise. I am fortunate to interact on a daily basis with such talented entrepreneurs, our vendors.
My position as farm manager is a union of very diverse experiences – a university administrator, educator and horticulturalist. The greatest satisfaction working for Cape Abilities is the opportunity to use knowledge from very different life experiences as we create opportunities for individuals to grow. We “plant seeds,” cultivate & nurture growth and promote the well-being of empowered adults thru meaningful and educational experiences. I recognize individuals with disabilities as people first. The disability makes no difference and there are immense opportunities to learn from the individuals we serve. They teach me true diversity and understanding, perseverance, how to think and learn “out of the box” and how to live in the moment. They teach me about potential and opportunities to grow.
It is also immensely rewarding interacting with the community at-large. We are blessed with customers, from all over the world, who understand and value our mission.
What do you hope the impact of Cape Abilities is on the local community?
In my heart of hearts, I hope the community recognizes that individuals living with disabilities have skills, knowledge and a desire to live meaningful and active lives. That individuals living with disabilities have much to offer and fulfill valued roles in the community.
Describe your perfect Cape Cod day.
Wow – this is a challenging question. There are so many wonderful Cape Cod days. Maybe it includes a beach walk or an afternoon in a beach chair. It may be watching sandpipers run up and down the beach or finding a conch shell for the one millionth time. It may be a morning kayak adventure or time in the garden. It may be a picnic at Nauset Beach or taking the dog for a swim at Jack Knife Cove or Muddy Creek. It could be digging clams for supper or enjoying the myriad of cultural and community opportunities. It may be bundled in front of the fireplace with the power out and candles lit listening to the howling winds. And, every opportunity to share Cape Cod with friends, families and the many visitors who choose to explore this beautiful peninsula makes for a perfect day.