Smile Farms in Moriches, NY, is the most incredible farm I’ve ever visited. It’s not what they grow, farming technology they use or size of the operation. It was the people who work there that make it special. Smile Farms in Moriches and four others like it in the state of NY provide jobs, opportunity and a sense of purpose for our neighbors that need it most — developmentally challenged adults.
Presently, Smile Farms employs more than 70 adults with developmental disabilities in these five locations. Here are some numbers straight from their website regarding adults with developmental disabilities:
- 80 Percent of adults with developmental disabilities are unemployed.
- 15 Percent of children born in the US are born with a developmental disability, including those in the autism spectrum.
- 4.6 million in the US are diagnosed with a developmental disability.
My visit was part 1800Flower’s Emerald Leadership Program. Accompanying me were 20 of our company’s best and brightest to visit, volunteer and, most of all, help spread the word about Smile Farms. As you can tell, I was inspired as a result of what I witnessed.
Many thanks to Monica Martinez, Smile Farms Development Manager for providing our group a great tour of the Moriches farm and introducing us to its employees. It was truly a treat to meet them and learn about what they did that morning. There was great pride and pleasure in their responses! It was also wonderful to continue chatting with Monica and Smile Farms Senior Director Jodi Taggart, whom both joined the Emeralds for dinner later that evening and shared more insight about the program.
If you live in New York (or plan to visit as a tourist or on business travel) visit one of these farms! Click here for a complete list of locations with descriptions of offerings. Please buy from them, request how you can help, donate and, especially, engage with those they employ. Personally, I look forward in contributing time and energy in supporting Smile Farms into the future.