On Saturday, October 28, OpenSky Co-op put together an outdoor concert featuring headliners Fiver and the Atlanticks, along with local artists Blue Horse, Jon McKiel and Harris McSheffery. The event was open to the public, free of charge, family-friendly, and accessible. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the crowd gathered around the stage with seats and picnic blankets to experience the many wonderful performances. Tours were also offered on the farm, allowing people of all ages to interact with the animals, and enjoy the beautiful Tantramar views.
Sackville residents are likely familiar with the OpenSky Co-op, a commune that provides a strong sense of community to those living with disabilities. The 11-acre farm holds a five-bedroom house, a barn, greenhouses, a large open lawn, gardens, and a pasture. It is a humble home to participants enrolled in their programs. They provide training on social, functional, and general life skills, as well as vocational assistance and community connections. OpenSky was founded in 2011, with a vision to ensure that individuals with autism spectrum disorder and/or other mental health challenges have the resources to improve their quality of life. The farm is a therapeutic environment and offers jobs involving animal care, organic gardening, and food preparation. Temporary lifestyles, such as this, greatly facilitate those with disabilities and mental health challenges in building their skill sets for life. A range of volunteers and workers are also welcome at OpenSky, with jobs such as farming, hosting workshops, household maintenance, business and coordination, creative projects, and events. Aside from OpenSky’s usual programs, events are occasionally hosted and open to their residents, as well as town locals and university students. These activities include farm visits for students, movie nights, community walks, and for the first time, a concert that is completely open to the public.
The weather was picture perfect on Saturday night, in contrast to the weekend before, when the show was originally planned. There was a great turnout for the co-op’s first public concert, and plans for future events such as this are already underway. Glen Barrington is a current community social outreach coordinator on the OpenSky team. He is working on a pilot project and is responsible for creating engaging social events that make connections between the communities stronger. “We have Glen for at least the next 12 months or so,” says an OpenSky manager, Michelle Melanson. She adds “he’s done a couple of things already. This is one of his events that he’s planned and completely coordinated, and he’s done a great job.” Information regarding upcoming events that are happening at OpenSky is available on their Facebook and Instagram page.
“We’re here to be a holistic healing center — we attract people that want to help people and do well in their community,” Melanson comments on the importance of working at OpenSky and its role in the community, “we have a great staff team, wonderful volunteers that come and help out — our participants are lovely people, and it is exciting to bring out their brilliance and give them a chance to share with the world too.” Melanson shares that the co-op is continuously working to develop a more welcoming environment, such as a “mental health path” which loops around the garden. Additionally, a retail greenhouse was started last spring, which was passed down from the Anderson’s business.