Greens Do Good

News &

Neurodiversity in vertical farming: bringing an overlooked workforce to the forefront

This story was originally posted on Vertical Farm Daily.

Neurodiversity in vertical farming: bringing an overlooked workforce to the forefront

“We want to demonstrate the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace, and now have 60 participants learning the process of agriculture. Our participants end up with excellent work experience setting them up for future employment,” says Jen Faust, Operations Director at Greens Do Good.

Lisa Goldstein and Jen Faust 

The New Jersey-based vertical farm is part of the REED Autism Services family of programs that provides support to individuals with autism, according to their website. Through its Workforce Development program, the farm provides 800+ hours of work-based learning to teens with autism per year and offers paid employment opportunities to adults. The farm sells basil, micro greens, and lettuce direct to consumers, local restaurants, markets, and food service providers.

Four container farms have been added to the portfolio
Given the demand for the program, Greens Do Good is expanding to four hydroponic container farms supplied by Amplified Ag, with production on one side and education materials on the other side. The educational farm pods contain NFT and flood & drain systems to produce 1.200 plants, a proprietary IoT control center, full-spectrum LED lighting, water filtration, precision fertigation, HVAC, and a non-slip floor coating. The system is food-safe and meets USDA approval for incidental food contact.

“We are not trying to automate everything but are improving efficiency with remote capability. Even with this automation, we still provide enough labor opportunities and jobs,” Jen explains.

“Food production is the industry of this century”
According to Jen, the public interest in Greens Do Good has been astounding and has led to various partnership opportunities. For example, this CEA is working with other farms to accommodate individuals on their waitlists and increase their capacity. Greens Do Good also partners with the Head Start program to provide food and nutritional education to kindergartens.

The organization will also be presenting its concept at a conference at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders. If Greens Do Good’s concept is well received, the goal is to trademark their curriculum and bring vertical farming education for neurodiverse people even further.

“Food production is the industry of this century, and we want to be part of the solution and help others build vertical farms and grow healthy produce,” says Jen.

Stories That Matter: Championing a Cause Close to Heart

nspired by Her Brother, Tate Ban Is Raising Awareness for Greens Do Good

Growing up with an autistic brother has been a journey of learning and growth for high school student Tate Ban. As she’s gotten older, she has come to understand the challenges and barriers that exist for individuals like her brother Finn as they transition into adulthood.

Many young adults with intellectual disabilities “graduate to the couch,” as Tate puts it, and do not go on to college or establish careers.

Finn has been fortunate to work at Greens Do Good since 2021, where he’s thrived as an assistant coordinator taking on tasks like seeding, harvesting, and packaging.

As Tate explained, “Finn is extraordinarily proud of being a hydroponic farmer.”

This passion and purpose Tate saw in her brother inspired her to start the Greens Do Good Club at her Ridgewood, New Jersey, high school. Tate, along with a friend and a teacher sponsor, founded the club with approval from the school administration. With more than 30 members, the club has been actively involved in community events, including the Ridgewood Daffodil Festival, and has generated awareness about Greens Do Good and its mission.

Now a high school senior, Tate inspires others to support Greens Do Good by buying their produce and encouraging local restaurants and grocery stores to do the same. She hopes students from other high schools will start similar clubs and help create positive change in their communities.

“Having a brother with special needs has made me more aware of people’s unique qualities, and I think it has made me a better person,” said Tate. “I’ve learned from Finn that we all need to help each other.”

Learn more about Greens Do Good and our mission at

Stories That Matter: Working Toward the Future

At Greens Do Good, We’re Preparing Students with Autism for the Workplace

Five days a week, Greens Do Good Workforce Development Coordinator Jessalin Jaume stands at the farm entrance, ready to greet students. These young people, ages 16 to 21, are transition students with autism who come from surrounding schools to receive job training at the indoor farm in Hackensack, New Jersey.

First up is a review of their individualized work plan. Accompanied by job coaches, the students start working on any number of skills, including inventory, seeding, measuring nutrient levels, harvesting, packaging, post-harvest cleanup, and more. In total, there are 84 different skills that students can learn at the farm. Each works at their own pace and ability rotating through tasks as they are mastered.

Jessalin Jaume
Greens Do Good Workforce Development Coordinator

“At the farm, there’s a job for everyone,” explained Jessalin. 

High rates of unemployment among adults with autism are startling. In fact, nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. Our services are designed to prepare these individuals for employment upon graduation from school. Greens Do Good is an approved provider of Work Based Learning Experiences, part of Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) of the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (NJ DVRS).

The hydroponic, vertical farm is located in a 3,500-square-foot warehouse space using sustainable farming methods, including energy-efficient watering and lighting systems to nurture the crops, which are planted in space saving stacked trays. The farm grows 30 varieties of microgreens, plus basil, baby arugula, baby kale, butterhead lettuce, and spring mix.  Produce is sold to regional grocers, small local markets, restaurants, country clubs, and direct to consumers. 

Core to the program is a customized curriculum developed in collaboration with board-certified behavior analysts. Each skill is broken down into prerequisite skills, targeted goals, and overall skill mastery, and independence. The practical skills learned on the farm are just one benefit of the Workforce Development Program. Working alongside neurotypical peers, students receive additional opportunities for social interaction, learn how to communicate in the workplace, and practice self-advocacy and workplace readiness. 

One of the highlights of the job for Jessalin is watching the students’ progress.

“They often come in reserved and timid, and over time, I watch them flourish, gain independence, and engage with the Greens Do Good team. Our greatest hope for these students is that this opportunity provides a pathway to a job,” she said.

With nearly 60 students coming through our doors each week, the Greens Do Good program currently has a long waiting list. “Given the high unemployment rates among adults with autism, it’s no surprise that demand for our program is so strong.

With future expansion plans in place, our goal is to open our doors to more students,” said Jen Faust, Director of Operations, Greens Do Good.

Students take on tasks like seeding and measuring nutrient levels.

To learn more about Greens Do Good and our Workforce Development Program, click here.

A Champion Among Us: Sean Allen

Sean Allen, Facilities Manager for the REED Autism Services family of programs, has been named a REED Champion Among Us!

In our work, there are those team members that excel in their interactions with students, clients, and fellow colleagues, who build community with energy, enthusiasm, and the highest of standards, all while demonstrating new ways to enhance the lives of those around them.

About our honoree: “Sean is a great guy and a super hard worker. Since joining REED just a few months ago, he’s had an enormous and positive impact at our schools, our homes, and at Greens Do Good. He goes above and beyond to ensure all facilities are in excellent condition.”

“Sean was instrumental in the opening of our new Franklin Lakes campus,” explained Chantelle Walker, CEO, REED Autism Services. “From the moment he joined REED Autism Services, he’s made good things happen. I’m not sure how we managed before him!”

Want to nominate a staff member? Click here. Winners will be selected monthly.


REED Academy began in 2003 when a small group of parents came together, desperate to find the right education for their children with autism, one that was innovative and forward-thinking and opened new possibilities. That same passion and commitment have shaped the past two decades for REED.

“REED has always been relentless in its pursuit of innovative solutions that enrich and improve the lives of those with autism,” explained Chantelle Walker, CEO, REED Autism Services. “This is an opportunity to not only celebrate REED’s 20-year history but to also look ahead to our next chapter. We will continue to push boundaries – all while remaining singularly focused on the very best in education and services for individuals with autism.”

From special events to community engagement activities, we’re inviting the REED community to join us in celebrating this important milestone!  Be sure to check back here and visit us on social media for ongoing updates and more. 


REED Autism Services has released new episodes of the “Changemakers in Autism” podcast.

In the first episode of season 2, “Taking a Lens to Autism,” hosts Chantelle Walker and Jen Faust are joined by Filmmakers Caren Zucker and John Donvan for an in-depth discussion on history’s portrayal of autism and their groundbreaking documentary, “In A Different Key.” 

In the next episode, “Athletes & Philanthropic Initiatives,” MALKA Sports President/CEO and REED Board Member Pat Capra talks about the intersection of athletes and philanthropy and how he’s working with athletes to develop initiatives that align with their passions and elevate the causes they support.

As Walker explains, “We’ve been fortunate to meet many incredible people through our work at REED Autism Services. We’re excited to continue introducing our audience to the people pushing the boundaries of what’s accepted, expected, and possible for individuals with autism.”

Season one covered a range of topics, including innovative and inclusive housing, sex and relationships, and more. Additional episodes in season two will continue to be released over the coming weeks. To learn more, visit

Your Support Means the World to Children and Their Families

Dear Friend,

Diagnosed with autism by age three, Adrianna spent her preschool and early elementary years thriving. Adrianna, who is nonverbal, loved learning and progressed steadily, mastering goal after goal.  But over time, the critical support she was receiving at school diminished—and when she got to fourth grade, her parents started to see a change in their once-happy child.

Imagine the heartbreak, as a parent, of watching your child indicate “sad” on her iPad day after day. Adrianna’s parents feared that on top of the emotional upheaval, she was also in danger of losing all her incredible gains. They knew there was only one place for Adrianna, and that was REED Academy. 

When she was accepted to the school, the whole family felt like they won the lottery. Today, 11-year-old Adrianna is all smiles on weekday mornings, eager to attend class in a caring environment with educators who nurture her abilities so that she can continue to grow and thrive.

Stories like Adrianna’s are what fuel us here at the REED Foundation for Autism—and that’s why we’re asking for your crucial financial support today.

New Jersey has the second-highest rate of autism in the country, and countless other families are in desperate need of a program that will guide their children to reach their full potential.

REED is doing all we can. Right now, we’re preparing to open our new campus in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, where we can support Adrianna and so many more students like her. As with our Oakland campus, the new building will be equipped with the right tools, technology, and spaces to facilitate learning both academic and life skills.

Providing specialized education and programming is costly. For nearly two decades, REED has been relentless in our pursuit of innovative solutions that enrich and improve the lives of those with autism—and we’re able to do it because of you and your generous contributions. We’ve launched programming in adult services, severe challenging behavior, and supported employment through indoor farming, just to name a few.

Won’t you help us continue to expand our programs to offer the most comprehensive services for children and adults with autism? Your gift enables us to secure a brighter future for Adrianna and others who urgently need our services.

When you give to the REED Foundation for Autism, you’ll help support our mission to provide individuals with autism the opportunity to learn, live, work, and thrive at every stage of their lives. Please take this moment to give as generously as you can. Together, I know we can make a vital difference in the lives of so many.

With heartfelt thanks,

Chantelle Walker
CEO, REED Autism Services

How to make your tax-deductible gift today

Visit or mail your check to REED Foundation for Autism
Attn: Year-End Appeal, 25 Potash Road, Oakland, NJ 07436, by December 31, 2021. 

Thank you for your support!

‘A Little Utopia’: Greens Do Good employs people with autism at a sustainable vertical farm

Looking from the outside at a 3,000-square-foot warehouse in an industrial area of Hackensack, New Jersey, you’d never guess what was happening inside. Take a step through the doors and you’d find towers of green, fresh produce being grown by a group of people as part of an organization called Greens Do Good (GDG). GDG has a job training program for teens and adults with autism based around a hydroponic, vertical farm.

Read the rest of the story >>


Tyler Hall, Assistant Farm Manager at Greens Do Good, has been named a REED Champion Among Us!

In our work, there are those team members that excel in their interactions with students, clients, and fellow colleagues, who build community with energy, enthusiasm, and the highest of standards, all while demonstrating new ways to enhance the lives of those around them.

About our honoree: “Tyler has become an integral and vital member of our team. He advocates for and is a friend to people with autism. His dedication to providing a positive, meaningful experience to all learners has been amazing! He exemplifies everything that REED stands for on and off the farm.”

Tyler joined Greens Do Good in 2021 as a Farm Technician. Since then, he has served as Interim Workforce Development Coordinator and was promoted to Assistant Farm Manager in September 2022.

“Tyler brings a special energy to the farm,” explains REED Autism Services CEO Chantelle Walker. “He exudes kindness and patience and always goes above and beyond what is expected to ensure those around him feel included, valued and successful.”

Want to nominate a staff member? Click here. Winners will be selected monthly.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping