Watch Us Weave Helps Special-Needs Individuals Thrive

Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Jon Ellegood

Janice Agarwal is a busy woman these days.

As executive director and co-owner of Watch Us Farm and Watch Us Weave, Agarwal runs both businesses.

Watch Us Farm, with our gardens, greenhouse and main office, is located on our farm,” Agarwal says. Here, adults with special needs are growing hydroponic produce. We just harvested our first crop of butter-leaf lettuce, which is a lovely sweet lettuce we will be selling on Saturdays at our greenhouse and at the Zionsville Farmers Market beginning Saturday, May 21.”

Watch us WeaveWatch Us Farm has also started growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, radishes and herbs, and soon will have alpine strawberries, potted flower starts, and cut flowers.

All our produce is grown by adults with special needs, and team leaders,” Agarwal says.

Agarwal notes that Watch Us Weave, which she co-owns with her husband David, is their new shop in downtown Zionsville.

Here, adults with special needs are weaving on restored looms to create handcrafted textiles,” she says.

Agarwal began weaving after visiting a facility in Germany where adults with special needs were creating beautiful textiles. Exquisite and intricately crafted textiles often rely on a textile tester to ensure their quality, strength, and endurance, preserving their beauty and integrity across time and use.

I took a few courses, purchased a loom, and worked with one of our interns who had gone to a weaving camp when she was in middle school, to set up Watch Us Weave in our home,” Agarwal says. While Watch Us Farm was up and running outdoors, the two of us spent several months learning all of the ins and outs about a weaving program.”

In 2019 Agarwal and the intern were introduced to a wonderful young woman who had learned to weave at Carmel High School.

She was our first employee in our weaving division,” Agarwal says. Since then, we have brought on five more adults with various special needs who never cease to amaze me with their abilities. Interestingly enough, each of these men and women have their own strengths.”

Agarwal says some people at Watch Us Weave like the very fine detail of scarves, or thin threads and designs.

Others like a bit more relaxed weave to make dish towels or rugs,” she says. Some like to do several things. Not wanting our employees to become frustrated and dislike their jobs, we have found it is really important to hire people into positions that match their skills. We have a wait list, with two more adults with special needs who are interested in coming on board once we have more opportunities.”

Watch Us Weave is set up with looms all around, and has shelves with ready-made textiles and colorful yarn for new projects.

Our workers can make custom pieces,” Agarwal says. You can come in, choose your design and colors, and then let us make personalized table runners, rugs, scarves, throws and baby blankets. We would love to start working with homeowners or designers to add fun pieces to their new spaces. We make dish towels from 100% cotton, and these would make fantastic housewarming gifts. Our shop hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and soon we will be offering appointments to come in and weave something yourself.”

Agarwal also recommends bringing a friend or two, and making a fun evening out of it.

We are also planning to host weaving camps at our shop during the summer,” she says. We really want this to be a great place to develop relationships with our community. Get to know our team and come weave with us.”

Agarwal notes that Watch Us Farm officially started in 2018.

During the next year we began employing adults with special needs in our organic gardens, our pumpkin patch and for service projects around Zionsville, like painting the curbs downtown and maintaining walking paths in our parks,” she says. Indoors, we partnered with Seeds of Hope services to make prewired electrical outlets and a variety of other electrical components, to help electricians on large Indianapolis job sites like hotels and warehouses become more efficient.”

Over time, as they learned about the individual strengths of their employees, they added their weaving service line, and then a customized greeting-card service line.

Off-site and indoor projects ended during COVID,” Agarwal says. Then as we began building our greenhouse we learned about zoning restrictions affecting the number and type of employees we could employ in our house, and began looking for a larger space.”

The funds raised during their first “Dinner at Dusk” gala dinner allowed them to complete construction of the greenhouse, and purchase their hydroponic system.

We are also working on a small high tunnel for our tomatoes and peppers,” Agarwal says.

One of their highlights is their one-acre pumpkin patch.

Each year on the first Saturday of October, we host a Fall Festival for families with children with special needs and their siblings,” Agarwal says. Families come out to the farm, pick and decorate pumpkins, play games, win prizes, have lunch and pet tame animals, all for free in a very low sensory atmosphere.”

Watch Us Farm represents a simple idea and mission – to provide adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities the opportunity to learn and work on a farm.

Agarwal notes that her son Alex is a high-functioning adult who requires a special environment to be successful.

When visiting relatives in Germany, we visited several locations that had been around for three or four generations, finding full time jobs and providing housing in communities using the model we would like to create here,” she says. We saw that high-functioning adults with special needs were successful doing repetitive jobs with amazing quality control, on machines and equipment provided by large companies like Miele, Audi and other manufacturers. This model can work here too.”

Agarwal would love to find a new farm in the area.

We would create a place where our community could come for walks and fresh produce, to volunteer or to work,” she says. Until then, we invite you to come by for our upcoming events. We will be at the Zionsville Brick Street Market on Saturday, May 7, and at the Zionsville Farmers Market on Saturdays beginning May 21. Our Dinner at Dusk’ fundraising gala will be at The Sixpence on Sunday, August 28. Last but not least, our fourth-annual Fall Festival for families with children with special needs will be on Saturday, October 1.”

Watch Us Weave is located at 45 South Elm Street in Zionsville. The Watch Us Farm greenhouse and farm is located at 9906 East 200 South in Zionsville. For more info, visit

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