Greens Do Good

News &
Updates

REED Launches New Employee Recognition Program—Champions Among Us

At REED, we place our students and clients at the center of everything we do.

It is thanks to our dedicated staff that we deliver quality support and services for individuals with autism so they can thrive and achieve their full potential throughout their lives. We value the contributions of each and every employee — day in and day out.

In our work, there are Champions Among Us — 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.

Nominations can be made by a member of management, a fellow colleague, or family member. To submit your nomination, answer a few simple questions. One employee across our organizations will be selected monthly and will be recognized on our social media and websites.

If you know a staffer that fits the bill, we invite you to nominate them. Click here.

“Defying All the Odds: REED Foundation Paves The Way For Education and Independence”

All it takes is one small idea and a whole lot of passion to achieve something great. When it comes to parents and their children, this passion knows no bounds. The Bergen County community experienced this first-hand back in 2003, when a small group of parents came together to create opportunities for their children, all of whom were recently diagnosed with autism. In response to the lack of appropriate educational facilities available, they created a small private school for autistic kids known as REED Academy.

Read the rest of the story >>

Creating job opportunities in sustainable farming for individuals with autism

Story originally appeared in Vertical Farm Daily

Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never held a paying job. Greens Do Good, a hydroponic, vertical farm in Hackensack, NJ, is doing its part to help change that.

The trainees working on packing and transplanting practices at the farm

“We have an easily reproducible concept that creates a pipeline of qualified, talented, and focused employees for controlled environment agriculture,” says Jennifer Faust, Operations Director at Greens Do Good.

It’s not about high-tech for Greens Do Good, but the practicality of tasks at the farm

Greens Do Good is driven by the social mission of producing local food while providing meaningful job training and employment opportunities for individuals with autism. Through the farm’s Workforce Development Program, Greens Do Good provides more than 1,000 hours of training to teenagers and young adults with autism each year.

“Since launching in early 2021, the program has been met with high demand. We currently see 50 participants from 10 districts and/or private schools per semester. Given the space limitations of the farm, the program is now curating a waitlist,” says Jennifer.

Lisa Goldstein and Jennifer Faust

Greens Do Good is part of the REED Autism Services family of programs that aims to support individuals with autism and help them thrive throughout their lives. Greens Do Good provides each person with the opportunity to perform tasks that match their interests and abilities, whether that be seeding, harvesting, packaging, and delivery.

Products are packed in sleeves for retail

“With the anticipated growth of the global hydroponics market approaching 22.5% through 2025, Greens Do Good provides a unique opportunity for job training within an expanding industry,” says Chantelle Walker, Chief Executive Officer of REED Autism Services.

Chantelle Walker

Delivering sustainable produce through various distribution channels
As Lisa Goldstein, Sales Director, explains, Greens Do Good has multiple distribution channels that include three ShopRite locations within a 20-mile vicinity, numerous restaurants and country clubs, direct-to-consumer sales, and partner organizations like Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA), which works to give young children a head start. Through GBCA and Greens Do Good, children learn about the benefits of eating healthy.

Basil

A range of microgreens and edible flowers are cultivated as well, based on client requests

In a 3,300-square-foot indoor farm, Greens Do Good produces approximately 2,400 units of basil, more than 1,000 heads of lettuce, 40-50 lbs of baby arugula, kale, and spring mix, plus 40-50 lbs of microgreens per month.

According to farm technician Tyler Hall, the process begins by seeding in either coir-based IHORT or Rockwool propagation cubes, which are placed in a dark rack for 2-3 days until the seeds begin to sprout. The seedlings are then transplanted into an LED light tower and grown there until they produce their first true leaves. Finally, the seedlings are transplanted into foam boards and grown there until harvest.

The germination room

“We are not just socially conscious but also environmentally focused. We pay close attention to nutrient usage and water consumption, and whenever possible, we reuse and recycle all of our growing boards. We’re controlling all of the factors,” explains Tyler.

Another range of microgreens

Expansion planned in partnership with Ramapo College and NJSEA
Greens Do Good is eager to expand its footprint in the near future through its impending collaboration with Ramapo College of New Jersey and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA). Through this collaboration, Greens Do Good will expand its farms to the Meadowlands Environment Center, which is the property of the NJSEA, and will create a higher education program for individuals with autism in collaboration with Ramapo College.

Butterhead lettuce

“We are going to bypass the typical college entrance qualifications and create a system where individuals with autism can take higher education courses in sustainability, earth science, and biology. They will gain practical experience at the farm and a graduate certificate upon completion,” says Jennifer, who also says that the program could be live as early as January 2023.

Expanding Our Impact Through Partnerships

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

 

Register today for Friends & Family at the Farm

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
Click here to register.

Valet parking will be provided

Book a Tour

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.

Stories That Matter: Cold Hands, Warm Hearts: Finding Purpose Through Giving

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 lgoldstein@reedfoundationforautism.org. Greens Do Good is part of the REED Autism Services family of programs, all 501c3 organizations.

Join the REED Foundation for Autism at the New Jersey Premiere of “In A Different Key”

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.

Register now!

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