Greens Do Good
Greens Do Good Awarded Grant From Someone Else’s Child to Support Workforce Development
An anticipated one million teens with autism will age out of their school entitlement programs in the next decade. They’ll be entering a job market where the unemployment rate for adults with autism is a staggering 85%. This type of job landscape is what makes a grant from Someone Else’s Child (SEC), to support the Greens Do Good Workforce Development Program, so critical.
At our indoor, hydroponic farm in Hackensack, New Jersey, program participants are exposed to all aspects of farm work, including seeding, nursery care, harvesting, packaging, planting, customer service, and maintenance. Our curriculum focuses on teaching environmentally sustainable practices and essential job skills to lay the foundation for future employment.
Since launching in early 2021, Greens Do Good has grown from three to 50 participants from 10 districts and private schools and has provided them nearly 1,000 hours of work-based learning experiences. “It is clear that vocational opportunities are in high demand,” explained Chantelle Walker, CEO, REED Autism Services. “We are incredibly thankful for the recognition and ongoing support of Someone Else’s Child, which will allow us to serve more individuals with autism in our community.”
SEC is committed to improving the lives of underserved children in the United States and globally by supporting programs that address economic disparities and drive systemic change. With an emphasis on education and literacy, economic justice, and children with disabilities, SEC looks to break the cycle of inequality through innovative approaches that empower youth to learn, grow, and fulfill their potential to live meaningful lives.
Greens Do Good is part of the REED Autism Services family of programs, which are registered 501c3 organizations.
Learn more at greensdogood.com
You’re invited to join us for an afternoon of celebration at Greens Do Good. We would like to welcome all of those who are interested in learning about our hydroponic farm and workforce development program for teens and adults with autism.
Wednesday, June 1, 2022 / 1:00 – 2:00 pm
65 Oak Street, Hackensack, NJ
Valet parking will be provided
We are excited to announce that we will be offering tours of the Greens Do Good farm!
Schedule a one-hour tour of our hydroponic vertical farm located in the heart of Hackensack, NJ. During this interactive session, we will explore:
- The science of how plants thrive in controlled indoor environments
- Energy efficient technology and water conservation
- Soilless growing and growing mediums
- Avoiding pests without pesticides
- New ways of thinking about the importance of locally grown produce
View the flyer for more information and to book your visit.
A recent visit from the Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA) on a cold winter day warmed our hearts.
Despite the freezing temperatures, Greens Do Good provided more than 150 heads of butterhead lettuce to support GBCA’s mission to improve the lives of low-income families.
The Greater Bergen team arrived ready to fill their truck and quickly got to work loading heads of lettuce — an impressive example of people coming together to create more sustainable families and healthier youth, starting with GBCA’s Head Start/Early Head Start program, which prepares students for kindergarten by offering extensive resources to support the entire family. Thanks to this coordinated effort, students in the Paterson, Jersey City, Hackensack, Bergenfield, and Cliffside Park programs enjoyed a tasty, nutritious lunch featuring our fresh butterhead lettuce, while learning about the benefits of eating healthy. With a focus on the whole family, each child also went home with the recipe for the dish and nutrition facts.
“We were honored to provide this enriching and nourishing experience thanks to our hydroponic, vertical farm in Hackensack, New Jersey,” said Lisa Goldstein, Vice President of Development.
When you walk into Greens Do Good, you’ll be struck by the beauty of stacked trays of basil, microgreens, and lettuce, unexpected in an old warehouse space. And you’ll be struck again by the beauty of seeing teens and adults with autism hard at work — planting, seeding, packaging, and harvesting. “We provide job training and employment to these individuals, teaching them environmentally sustainable practices along with essential skills,” Goldstein added.
This fulfilling visit was our latest endeavor in growing community partnerships, which helps us fill the local area with healthy produce. We’ve also been busy assisting Feed the Frontlines New Jersey distribute free meals for hospital workers, providing fresh produce to food pantries through Bergen County’s Food Security Taskforce, and donating surplus produce to Eva’s Village, which provides support to people in need.
“I cannot think of more meaningful work than teens and adults with autism growing produce to help nourish and educate underserved communities,” said Chantelle Walker, CEO of REED Autism Services.
Interested in becoming a Greens Do Good community partner? Contact Lisa Goldstein at email@example.com. Greens Do Good is part of the REED Autism Services family of programs, all 501c3 organizations.
In this true story of “love, difference and the fight to belong,” a mother tracks down the first person ever diagnosed with autism, now an elderly man in rural Mississippi, to learn if his life story holds promise for her own son with autism.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2022
- VIP Access Cocktail Reception: 6:00PM
- Movie Screening + Panel Discussion: 7:15PM
Montclair State University, The Presentation Hall, School of Communication and Media Building
A panel discussion on the importance of building community will immediately follow the movie screening. Panelists include:
- Filmmakers Caren Zucker and John Donvan
- Amy Silna Soukas, REED Board member
- Amy Gravino, MA, Autism Sexuality Advocate and Relationship Coach
- Law Enforcement Member
Space is limited, please register by March 7, 2022. All proceeds benefit the REED Foundation for Autism.
Greens Do Good has named its onsite nursery the Nadison Nursery in honor of Jill Nadison, former executive director, and CEO, for her years of service with the organization.
All Greens Do Good produce starts as seedlings in our nursery, where they are nurtured until ready to be planted. “We wanted to find a unique way to thank Jill and show our appreciation for opening the farm doors and helping us bring meaningful job training and employment opportunities to teens and adults with autism,” explains Lisa Goldstein, Vice President, Development, REED Foundation for Autism and Director of Sales, Greens Do Good.
Join Us at the REED Foundation for Autism Golf Classic honoring Edgewood Country Club Executive Chef Anthony Villanueva
Help Us Support & Employ Individuals With Autism
The daily structure and personal fulfillment of a job well done is an integral part of life—one that is just as essential for individuals with autism as it is for any other adult. Yet, nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. Funds raised from REED’s Golf Classic will provide crucial vocational training and meaningful employment opportunities to teens and adults with autism.
Register to attend or sponsor the Golf Classic held on Monday, July 19, 2021, at Edgewood Country Club in River Vale, NJ. Edgewood’s 18-hole golf course consistently achieves the highest ranking in the annual “Best of Bergen” competition is due in part to their reputation for tournament-quality conditions maintained year-round. The layout is defined by panoramic fairways, challenging bunkers and water hazards, and manicured greens that roll consistently true and fast. This is a golf experience that is meant to be…experienced.
The REED Foundation for Autism Golf Classic will feature four-person teams. Shot gun start scheduled for 1 pm. Can’t make it for golf? Join us for dinner.
Greens Do Good and Finn Ban, our Workforce Development Program intern, were recently featured in NJ Spotlight News
REED Next is a nonprofit that provides assistance to adults on the autism spectrum. One of its latest initiatives is Greens Do Good, a vertical hydroponic farm in Hackensack.
“Greens Do Good launched in 2019 and we really understood that there was a huge need to provide employment opportunities for adults with autism and training opportunities for teens with autism to gain valuable work skills,” said Chantelle Walker, CEO of the REED Foundation for Autism.
Greens Do Good recently established its hydroponic farm in Hackensack, NJ, bringing sustainably grown produce to the local community. However, eco-conscious harvesting isn’t all that they’re known for. Their “Produce with Purpose” mission provides autistic adults with employment opportunities. In doing so, Greens Do Good is slowly expanding the possibilities within agriculture.
When speaking with Jen Faust, the director of operations, she emphasized the goal for the farm is inherently layered. The team is looking to transform local sources for produce, offering a healthier and socially-conscious food supply. Despite their 2019 opening, the farm’s objectives are quite ambitious, although not impossible. To increase the quantity of healthy and fresh foods available at local pantries.
In partnering with Bergen County Food Security Task Force, the farm can work toward its goal of bringing fresh goods to families in need. The indoor, four-season farm sits in a warehouse of an urban environment. This allows for green-collar jobs that are not available outside the typical rural setting. I was able to speak with Faust to learn more about the farm and the faces behind the project.
1. Can you tell me a little bit about the farm and why you chose Hackensack for the location?
Greens Do Good is an indoor, hydroponic, vertical farm located in the heart of Hackensack, employing and supporting individuals with autism. Essentially, we have created a farm in a warehouse in the middle of a very urban environment. This unique model provides green-collar jobs that would be otherwise unavailable outside of a rural setting.
The Greens Do Good farming method allows for four-season growing across a smaller footprint than most traditional farms. It’s using less water and energy and minimizing the impact on the environment. Each day brings a new crop of basil, baby kale, butterhead lettuce, and over 20 varieties of microgreens—all hand-picked and packed at the height of freshness, then sold to local restaurants, country clubs, supermarkets, food service providers, and through home delivery.
2. What inspired your “Produce with Purpose” mission?
One of the leading issues for adults with autism is the lack of employment opportunities. In fact, nearly half of all 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. The daily structure and personal fulfillment of a job well done is an integral part of life—one that is just as essential for individuals with autism as it is for any other adult. At the farm, teens and adults with autism work alongside our farmers to help seed, plant, water and harvest the produce. Greens Do Good provides these individuals the opportunity to work alongside our farmers so that they can develop essential skills, achieve greater independence, and participate meaningfully in their communities.
3. What’s the connection, if any, between autism and agriculture?
The repetition in farming requires highly focused, reliable, and detail-oriented workers, which makes individuals with autism so well-suited to work at the farm. Individuals with autism often have the ability to concentrate on one task for long periods of time without getting distracted. Task completion is very important and that makes them very persistent workers. They are comfortable with repetitive tasks that others may find tedious. Individuals with autism are also inclined to diligently follow schedules, pay close attention to detail, and have a keen ability to identify errors that other people may overlook.
The adults we employ and teens in our workforce development program work with our Farm Manager and Farm Technicians in a variety of roles across the farm including seeding, planting, harvesting, and packaging products. Each individual can take on responsibilities that suit their inclination and ability—working at a pace that is tailored to their needs so they can do it successfully and independently.
4. How has local support helped to kick start your business?
We are very fortunate to have the support of the local community and individuals like Anthony Villanueva, executive chef of Edgewood Country Club. Villanueva began getting weekly deliveries soon after the farm opened its doors in early 2019—making him the first Chef-Partner of Greens Do Good.
We have since caught the attention of other individuals who support our mission, including Chef Chris Migton from Chez Catherine in Westfield, NJ. Chef Migton not only purchases our produce for her restaurant menus but she opens her doors and serves as a Greens Do Good pick-up location for customers in her community.
We are also fortunate to have received a grant from Someone Else’s Child (SEC), which will support our efforts to provide crucial vocational training and meaningful employment opportunities for teens and adults with autism. SEC is committed to serving underrepresented children and teens by sponsoring programs and initiatives to support and empower their lives. With an emphasis on education, literacy, children with disabilities and economic justice, SEC looks to break the cycle of inequality through innovative approaches that offer meaningful opportunities for vulnerable children and teens.
5. What does the future look like for you guys?
We have recently launched a pilot program to offer vocational training to teens with autism. Social distancing required by the pandemic has kept this workforce development program small to this point. It currently serves Ridgewood High School transition students and REED Academy’s SLE students. We are now opening our doors to additional districts and volunteers who are interested in gaining agricultural experience.