FALLBROOK – The Batali Ranch Work program is dedicated to providing opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. It is a private-public partnership between Brent and Lenila Batali and the Fallbrook Union High School District as well as the local Care Rite Vocational Services Day Program.
Sitting on a hilltop overlooking Bonsall, Batali Ranch is in its fourth year partnering with the district’s WorkAbility1 program to provide pre-employment skills, hands-on training, and transition planning for students with Individualized Education Plans and career interests in agriculture, art, and business.
Student workers at Batali Ranch have academic support needs ranging from mild learning challenges to severe developmental disabilities. Batali Ranch works closely with Joyce Jones, the Fallbrook WA1 Employment Training Specialist, to identify and assign tasks that meet the training and support needs for every ability level.
In addition to work readiness training, Batali Ranch and WA1 staff members incorporate academic, life skills, and social skills goals into job training. Batali Ranch provides training, meaningful work and skills through hands-on field work in the vineyard, horticulture: cultivating bromeliads and succulents, as well as wholesale experience in product packaging and sales. The student workers also supply bromeliads and stationary to local stores.
Since adding 500 vines, Batali Ranch is positioned to add viticulture and hospitality training, which given the number of vineyards, wineries, and hotels locally and in neighboring cities, will assist students to be competitive for gainful integrated employment and help secure meaningful vocational outcomes.
The Batali’s, also parents of Tiana, a 24 year old young lady who lives with autism, understand the importance of providing these young adults with purpose and meaning in their lives. It fuels Lenila’s passion for helping students when she sees the joy and satisfaction they get from working outside surrounding by nature.
The work is relaxing and slower paced, making it easier for people with a disability to adapt. There are many farm activities that can be used as vocation and skills training. Lenila said, “It has been a wonderful and satisfying experience for the students, as well as my husband and myself. We absolutely love it!”