At Allaire Community Farm in Wall Township, New Jersey, the first thing I noticed was this calm feeling that I was somewhere special. The adorable well-kept red barns, super friendly animals, and the interactive kid-friendly environment made me feel right at home. But the farm is more than a place to visit—Allaire Community Farm gives special attention to teens facing mental health issues, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, special needs adults and children, and families battling cancer. It’s a place with meaning and purpose with a unique blend of equine therapy, organic gardening, animal therapy, and vocational training. The non-profit farm is open to visitors, and in addition, there are volunteer programs, animal sponsoring opportunities, and you can even book a birthday party at the farm. Read on to learn more about Allaire Community Farm, and if you’re looking for more places to go, check out our guide to petting zoos too.
Feature Photo Taken at Allaire Community Farm
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Allaire Community Farm: “We Nurture Through Nature”
Explore the farm
The farm, founded by JoAnn and Sean Burney, was a dream of Sean’s that turned into so much more than he ever imagined in 9 1/2 years. Then when the Burney’s started to see visitors with special needs respond positively to the farm environment the founders knew they were on to something. Now the farm aims to utilize their rescue animals and working farm environment to “nurture through nature” while focusing on teens facing mental health issues, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, special needs adults and children, and families battling cancer.
When you first enter the farm, you walk through an adorable barn with a farmers market that includes everything from fresh honey to flowers to Allaire Community Farm apparel. There’s a small fee to enter, and you can also purchase special food to feed a majority of the animals on the farm. My kids noticed the tractors and outdoor play equipment that they could climb, sway, and spin on. Next, they saw a huge mechanical cow they could actually “milk,” giving a very accurate representation of what it would be like to milk one. They then made their way into the first barn filled with goats, chickens, ducks, and more. The ducks were very lively, and the goats were so fun to watch as they climbed and said hello. My kids were even more excited to find another barn filled with adorable ponies. We then visited the cow, Tilly the pig, and many other animals that were outdoors. The animals were so playful and friendly, and they were more than happy to be fed the feed we purchased in the barn.
Get on the saddle
When my kids saw the horses, the assistants told us about the equine care and horseback riding programs. Through the equine programs, your kiddo can gain independence and problem-solving skills by learning how to ride a horse, identify the parts of a horse, how to groom, and more. Both English riding lessons and Western riding lessons are available for children ages 6 and up. There are even classes for adults looking to get back in the saddle. The hour-long class covers horse care, grooming, riding, and tacking. PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) certified horseback riding classes for special needs populations are available too.
Be a party animal!
Birthday parties are big at Allaire—kids can visit the petting zoo, feed the animals, gather eggs in the hen house, and even milk a mechanical cow. The two-hour party includes a wagon ride around the 25-acre property. There are also fun add-ons like the barrel train and party favors. My kids were thrilled to learn this and hope to have a party there one day soon.
Sponsor an animal
When you interact with the animals, it doesn’t take much before you start developing a bond with several of them. My kids quickly attached to Jack and Jill, two goats that were so gentle and a joy to spend time with during our visit. We were happy to learn that we could directly support an animal of our choice on the website like Penny the horse, Lilly the pig, or Reese the goat. All funds raised through the sponsorship program will be used to support the care of the animals, which includes food and medical costs. There is a monthly subscription for $10 and an annual subscription for $100.
Volunteer at Allaire Community Farm
Are you looking for a great place to volunteer? Allaire Community Farm has over 200 volunteers working in the market, cleaning the stalls, feeding the animals, becoming a party and event horse assistant, or guiding others through the petting zoo. If gardening is more your speed, there is a garden green thumb volunteer position available too. Sign up to volunteer here. Volunteer opportunities are for those passionate about the farm, and they even hire teens to help. I know my kids would love to be a part of this opportunity someday when they get a little bit older.
You can’t help but feel the positivity and love at Allaire Community Farm—the environment supports everyone from the animals to the visitors to the volunteers and more. And it’s their program, the Harvesting Occupational and Personal Excellence (HOPE), that strives to provide a welcoming place for the aged-out special needs population to gain skills and independence. The participants are interns who complete meaningful work like animal care jobs and gardening to help run the farm and learn basic job skills. The program was developed by a special education teacher and a speech-language pathologist. While walking through the farm, it was so inspiring to see how hard the founders, JoAnn and Sean Burney, worked not only to keep the animals happy and healthy but how they strived to help others in need of support.
Upcoming additions to Allaire Community Farm
One of the great things about Allaire is they are constantly adding more to enhance the experience for all. They are currently building a butterfly house and an indoor riding area to hold riding lessons, therapeutic lessons, and more all year round. Another building in the works will be a produce processing facility where volunteers and interns will learn skills such as canning on the farm. They are also planning a path to independence so that wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers can easily access all farm areas.
What to know before you go
Dogs and picnicking are not permitted on the farm, so leave the coolers and food at home. Also, the animals are on specialized diets, and animal food is available for a small fee. Don’t miss the farmers’ market and organic produce market before you leave. Farm hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM-4 PM and Sundays from 12 PM-4 PM; the farm is closed on Mondays, rainy days, and major holidays. Admission is $5 for adults (16 and over) and $3 for children over 1. If you are looking for fun events on the farm, there will be an ongoing Harvest Festival from mid-September to Halloween with hayrides, pumpkins, cider, donuts, and more. And from Thanksgiving to January 1, there will be a Christmas on the Farm event. The holiday event will feature holidays lights throughout the farm, and families can take a hayride to see all of the scenery throughout the farm.
Allaire Community Farm
1923 Bailey’s Corner Road, Wall Township, NJ 07719