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In face of rising demand, Farm in the Dell looks to open more farms


As the housing need for individuals with disabilities grows, Farm in the Dell offers a solution.

Farm in the Dell, a Montana-based organization that builds farms where individuals with developmental disabilities can live and work, is expanding to meet the rising demand for its services.

“As parents get older, they can no longer take care of their child with disabilities,” said Lowell Bartels, Farm in the Dell co-founder. “Other times, these children are born to parents who have drug or alcohol addictions, and they’re abandoned. It’s not right.”

This is the need Lowell and his wife Susan saw in 1982, when they decided to open the first farm in the Flathead area of Kalispell, Montana. Their mission was clear—to create a place where individuals with developmental disabilities can live and work in an agricultural setting.

One farm became two farms, and the idea for Farm in the Dell quickly expanded nationally and internationally. Today, the farm in Kalispell is home to 15 residents where they raise miniature Herefords. There are also individually operated farms in Helena, Butte, Broadus, Fairfield, Great Falls, Lewistown and Ronan, MT; Platteville, WI, Moorhead, MN, as well as two farms in Saskatoon, Canada and one in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Lowell is currently working to launch farms in Bozeman, MT, and Buffalo, NY.

“A farm can be such a healing place for the people who work here,” said Alyssa Knecht, Executive Director of Farm in the Dell in Moorhead, MN. “They are often overloaded with sensory stimuli—here, it’s calm, quiet, they’re accepted for who they are.”

The farms have also become gathering places for the local community. Pumpkin patches, harvest sharing, outings with residents from local nursing homes, and student field trips are all ways that the community stays involved. Lowell hopes that it helps erase the stigma around people with disabilities, too.

“People have these misconceptions about people who are different from them. But we just need to listen to them,” he said. “They expand your life. They show you what love really is.”

The waiting lists continue to grow for a spot at the farms. In order to meet this growing need, Farm in the Dell is in need of land donations and financial support. Learn how you can help support the upcoming farms in Bozeman and Buffalo, or start a new farm at or contact Lowell at (406) 437-1972."

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