Freedom Farm breaks ground in Coker, will offer safe haven for children in need

Children in need of a home away from abuse, neglect or trauma will soon have a new space in Tuscaloosa County in which they can live, learn and grow.

On Monday, organizers turned the first mound of dirt and got one step closer to opening up the Freedom Farm.

“The greatest beneficiary are these children, but we are also hoping to help our state that has a tremendous job and responsibility for the 6,000 or more children (in foster care), so we want to make a dent,” said founder and CEO John Waits.

Freedom Farm will sit on 60 acres of land in Coker and will feature a chapel, seven group homes and an activity center.

“We want to give them an anchor so they feel safe and secure,” Waits said. “A compass so they know the right direction and hope and the best symbol for hope is the cross.”

The Freedom Farm will be similar to Big Oak Ranch in Gadsden, which is run by former University of Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle.

In fact, Big Oak Ranch is offering mentorship services for those at Freedom Farm.

“I have an affinity for Tuscaloosa myself,” Croyle said. “So, to see (these services) here in this community and see it so close to the university, it’s really awesome.”

Once completed, the farm will be filled with children who can learn from mentors how they can best succeed at life.

“I was blessed to have a mom and dad that loved me unconditionally,” said Freedom Farm Board Chair Weldon Cole. “I think all little kids should have that opportunity, and that is what we are trying to provide.”

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