Fostering meaningful connections between children with disabilities and nature.

Charlee in a Field

Our Mission

Spreading our daughter's joy of life through the planting of fruit trees and flowers. Charlee's Orchard promotes meaningful connection between kids with disabilities and nature for the purpose of enjoying the fruits of their labor. Funds raised will be used for growing Charlee's Orchard, planting, upkeep, decorations, events and opening new locations.

Our Vision

Charlee's Orchard envisions a future where all children, regardless of ability, thrive in a nurturing environment surrounded by nature's beauty. Through our dedication to community, compassion, and empowerment, we strive to create opportunities for growth, connection, and joy for every child and family we serve.

Our Story

Ever since Charlee died, her parents and family have been working together on a plan for honoring her legacy through Charlee’s Orchard: We initially created the orchard as Charlee's final resting place, we wanted to bring her home. After bringing her home, we realized we wanted to do more. We want to take a minute to explain what we’re doing next, and what you can do to help. Charlee’s Orchard started as a place for family and friends to donate money in Charlee’s memory after she died. Instead of flowers at a funeral, we wanted to plant a whole orchard on our farm in her name. We wanted fruit trees and flowers and a gazebo for her final resting place. A beautiful space for a beautiful little girl. With your help, we’ve done just that. And it’s perfect. We’ve spent the last year planning what we want to happen next. We want her name to live on. Anyone that has lost someone, especially a child, can tell you how important that is to the grieving family. We want her to be remembered for the life she lived, full of beauty, music, dancing and love. Our arms are empty, but our hearts are full. Her memory fills the pieces of our broken heart. We want to continue to grow Charlee’s Orchard. We want to have children with disabilities come and learn about growing fruit, planting seeds, meeting baby animals, and a chance to dance in the flowers in a safe and accessible environment. We would also like to use Charlee’s Orchard funds to help other grieving families. Child loss in the Down Syndrome community is devastatingly common. Too many parents have to bury their children. Most of these losses are unexpected and earth shattering and families are left struggling to survive. Something not commonly known, is that most life insurance companies won’t cover children with Down Syndrome. We would like to give bereavement grants to help families after their loss. To help assist in funeral or cremation expenses. This would be specifically for families that have lost a child with Down Syndrome. We would also like to assist families of children with Down Syndrome get medical equipment that they can’t afford on their own. Not everyone qualifies for disability Medicaid and the cost of therapies and medical equipment can become overwhelming. Our future plans are, spreading her Orchard to other locations (like schools to help raise awareness of Down Syndrome), helping her preschool financially with field trips and other activities for World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. Hosting events on our farm for Charlee’s Orchard. We can’t do all of these things without your support. We’ve been so blessed with such wonderful friends and family. If you could consider partnering with us at Charlee’s Orchard and help share our vision, it would mean everything to us. We have been officially recognized as a nonprofit organization (501(c)(3)). If you choose to donate, it will be tax deductible and you will receive a receipt for tax purposes. Thank you so much in advance!

What We Do

Bereavement Grant Image

Bereavement Grants

In times of loss, Charlee's Orchard is here to offer compassionate support through our bereavement grants. We understand the emotional and financial toll that comes with the loss of a child, especially one with Down Syndrome. Our bereavement grants aim to ease the burden by providing assistance for funeral expenses and other associated costs during this difficult time.

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Medical Equipment Grants

Access to necessary medical equipment is crucial for children with Down Syndrome. Charlee's Orchard is dedicated to helping families acquire the essential medical equipment required for their child's well-being. Our medical equipment grants aim to ensure that every child has access to the resources they need to thrive.

Sensory Farm

Sensory Farm

A sensory farm dedicated to providing a free and accessible experience for children with disabilities. This unique initiative allows all kids to explore agriculture, play in an inclusive playground, and participate in activities like fruit picking. In addition to creating an inclusive space, the farm promotes meaningful employment by hiring young people with Down Syndrome, fostering a supportive environment for skill development and community integration.

Board of Directors

Picture of Abigail Olmstead

Abigail Olmstead


Abby, Charlee’s mom, shared a beautiful love and connection to her that was beyond this world. She is a retired paramedic, mother to a blended family of 8 kids, was a foster mom to 13 more and runs their farm with the help of her husband. She is a strong advocate for children with disabilities and differences. She is known in the Down syndrome community as a friend and resource for other moms and their children. She is a voice for grieving mothers and shares her own experience throughout her grief journey. She continues to foster medically complex children because of her experiences with Charlee and the love and joy she can share. She enjoys spending time in the orchard, tending to the trees and flowers and remembering Charlee’s beautiful life.

Picture of Matthew Olmstead

Matthew Olmstead

Vice President

Matt is a retired firefighter, paramedic, father to 8 children and Charlee’s dad. He bought the family farm in 2021 with the intention of making it a sensory farm for kids with disabilities and children like Charlee. He was Charlee’s joy. She’d wait at the back door for him after he’d come home from work and excitedly squeal until he picked her up into a giant hug. He loves to share the story of Charlee, her life, her love, and her legacy. He’s open about his grief journey and isn’t afraid to support other fathers that have lost a child. He enjoys working in the orchard, making it more accessible and welcoming for children with disabilities. He wanted Charlee’s life to be remembered and shared. Her love of nature, flowers, and fruit can be a wonderful gift to other children as they visit the orchard.

Picture of Virginia Smits

Virginia Smits


Ginny is Charlee’s grandma (known as Meema) and was her best friend. They shared a beautiful bond with singing to Disney songs, swimming, and playing games. Ginny is the mother of 2 daughters and grandma to 8 grandchildren. She is a retired attendance clerk at a middle school, was a treasurer for the high school band, and is now enjoying retirement with her family close by. She felt the devastating loss of her granddaughter Charlee and still managed to take care of her daughter and son-in-law during the worst moments of their lives. She visits the orchard often and loves to talk about a girl named Charlee.

Picture of David Smits

David Smits


David, Charlee’s grandpa also known as Puppa, is a father to 2 daughters and grandpa to 8 children. He brings the fun to his grandchildren, always ready to play games, go swimming, fishing, play a rowdy game of ping pong and cards. He is an engineer and businessman, retired from IBM and now working for a similar company. He managed to hold his family up when they needed it the most. He’s our hard worker when the orchard needs trees and flowers planted. He helped Matt work on the winding path through the orchard and he’s our go to guy when the weeds start to take over. He loved Charlee fiercely as he does all of his grandchildren.

Partners and Friends

At Charlee's Orchard, we proudly acknowledge the collaborative efforts of our partners and friends, whose dedication strengthens our mission to serve children with disabilities.

Blossom Hope, Cultivate Change: Donate to Charlee's Orchard and Grow a World of Joy.

Get In Touch

We'd love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out to us at the address below or at any of our social media pages.


Charlees Orchard, Inc. P.O.Box 502 Harrodsburg, KY 40330
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Charlee's Orchard is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible.

EIN: 93-1865493