Mary and Larry Collette found themselves disappointed in the available programming and employment opportunities out there for their autistic son, Greg when he completed his public school education at age 26. They had a difficult time finding meaningful work that would allow Greg to grow socially and interact with others. In their program search for Greg, they learned about a working farm for autism in the Toledo, Ohio area called Bittersweet Farm. After several visits to the farm and a lot of thought, Larry, Mary, and several other parents and professionals decided to establish a similar program to serve the Macomb and St. Clair county areas. However, this farm would serve all developmental disabilities.
The first meeting was held in 2004. Officers were elected, and the first year would be dedicated to establishing a mission statement, by-laws, incorporating, non-profit status, bank accounts, insurance, brochures, and strategies.
In 2006, Special Dreams Farm was allowed to start their first program on a private farm in Ira Township. Though it was a one season agreement, the farmers planted, harvested and enjoyed their new job.
2007 brought the invite from the learning farm, Wolcott Farm in Ray Township. SDF was given a garden space and were taught to care for small animals.
In October of 2008, Special Dreams Farm found its permanent home, with the purchase of the farm on Fred W. Moore Highway. The pre-1900 farmhouse and outbuildings on the 31-acres of land was a classic Michigan dairy farm. It had been unoccupied for nearly four years. With the donation of time and materials from the Detroit Area Construction Agency, along with the hard work of the board of directors and friends, the property underwent a huge transformation in the first year. The first full-time program director was hired in February of 2010. The program director supervises the day to day operation of the farm and is responsible for scheduling and programming. We are now creating an environment at Special Dreams Farms that is being well received by farmers, parents, caretakers, and other special needs agencies. With the proper support and funding, we expect Special Dreams Farm to be a model for the special needs community for years to come.