Smile Farms, a non-profit dedicating to helping provide employment to adults with developmental disabilities in agricultural settings, officially opened its 7th location with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, June 22nd, 2018. The new location employs 24 adults at Holly 's Guest House in Moriches, NY.
Holly's Guest House is a bed and breakfast where family and friends of Independent Group Home Living (IGHL) residents can stay when visiting, and is run by IGHL, a non-profit whose mission is to provide programs and services such as Day-Habilitation, housing, and family support for people with intellectual disabilities so they can realize their full potential as human beings and contributing members of their community.
The first Smile Farms was created in partnership with IGHL, after IGHL CEO Walter Stockton asked Jim McCann, Smile Farms founder and executive chairman, for help securing jobs for some of his residents who were having trouble finding work. Holly's Guest House is Smile Farms' third farm with IGHL.
Both Walter Stockton and Jim McCann spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony, where McCann described how the work Smile Farms does benefits developmentally diabled "folks who are ready, willing, and able to work and had a hard time finding work." These individuals now work in the 8 raised garden beds which produce an array of vegetables. Their harvest is used to prepare meals for guests of Holly's, with any surpluses being used by IGHL residents.
After the ribbon was cut, guests to the ceremony joined the new horticulturalists in the garden where they were excited to give a tour and share what they've learned. The passion and excitement they have for their jobs is contagious and anyone could see just how important their jobs already are to them.
Smile Farms Intern
Beachgoers were in for a treat when they arrived at The Ocean Club, Inc. in Atlantic Beach on Saturday. They were met with a colorful array of potted and hanging flowers, plants carefully arranged in unique containers, and, perhaps best of all, herbs in pots painted by employees at Smile Farms. The plants were part of our 3rd Annual Pop-Up Shop. The Pop-Up Shop gave us an opportunity to sell herbs grown by employees at Smile Farms at League Education and Treatment Center in Brooklyn, NY. This urban farm employs ten developmentally disabled young adults and adults from their Vocational Program, and consists of 8 raised garden beds, a hoop house and a sensory garden. The employees were also kind enough to hand-paint flower pots for their herbs and they attached a recipe for fresh chive vinaigrette to their chives.
The rest of the flowers and plants for sale were grown at Smile Farms at IGHL, the first Smile Farms campus located in Moriches, NY. This campus employs over 30 people with developmental disabilities and consists of 19 greenhouses. It is also the workplace of Kevin McCann, Jim and Chris McCann's brother, who joined us at the shop. He had a great time joking with both volunteers and customers while helping to sell the plants that he worked to grow.
Everyone loved the plants grown at Smile Farms, but of particular interest were the unique arrangements created by Mrs. Teresa Madtes. She worked hard to arrange various plants and flowers in a variety of containers to make one-of-a-kind creations. Everyone loved her work and all of us at Smile Farms appreciate the hard work she put in to making the day a success. Not only did she contribute arrangements to sell, she was there bright and early, working with the Ocean Club to put on the event.
Ms. Ann Liggio also deserves great thanks. She spent hours making two quilts to be raffled off at the end of the day. The lucky winners went home with either a blue nautical-themed quilt or a red envelope-pattern quilt. Both winners are extremely lucky to receive such beautiful, homemade quilts.
In addition to the quilt raffle, two tickets to our Smile Farms 2nd Annual Citi Field Fundraiser were raffled off. The fundraiser will be held on Wednesday, July 11th and tickets include access to a Pre-Game Party where the first 56 attendees will receive a free drink and all attendees can enjoy endless appetizers provided by the Planning Committee. Ticketholders then enter Citi Field through a private entrance where they will listen to the National Anthem, sung by the FREE players ensemble, from the Warning Track! Ticketholders also receive a free Mets hat, Smile Farms t-shirt, and $12 Food and Drink Voucher. Our lucky winner is sure to have a great night!
All-in-all, our Pop-Up Shop raised over $3,000! We couldn't have done it without our wonderful organizers and volunteers, everyone at Smile Farms, IGHL, and The League School, The Ocean Club, and all of our supporters who purchased our beautiful plants and flowers! We're already looking forward to another great Pop-Up Shop next year!
Smile Farms Intern
On Monday, November 27, 2017, Smile Farms, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing meaningful employment for developmentally disabled adults, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its fourth location, Smile Farms at League Education and Treatment Center (LETC), at the League School in Brooklyn, NY.
This urban farm facility is launched in conjunction with LETC, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals that are emotionally and developmentally challenged, and consists of eight raised cedar garden beds, a hoop house to allow for year-round operations, and a sensory garden to grow a variety of traditional and nonconventional fruits and vegetables.
This campus provides meaningful employment for 11 people with developmental disabilities, 10 from LETC’s Vocational Program and 1 farm supervisor from the local community. Additionally, Smile Farms at LETC will provide emotionally and developmentally challenged students, ages 5 - 21 years of age from the League School, opportunities to use the sensory garden as educational resource and work alongside its employees in tending to the garden.
“We’re proud to partner with the League Education & Treatment Center to continue delivering on Smile Farms’ mission of providing meaningful work opportunities for adults with disabilities”, said Jim McCann, Chairman and President, Smile Farms Inc. “Along with growing plants and greens, we’ll also be growing hope.”
Smile Farms Inc. is a signature philanthropic partner of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.
ABOUT SMILE FARMS: Established by the McCann family in 2015, Smile Farms is a 501(c)3 organization that provides work in agricultural settings to individuals with developmental disabilities. The organization’s mission is to build a movement that fosters a world where people with differing abilities are always fully included. Smile Farms currently employs 61 developmentally disabled adults and serves over 100+ adults and children with disabilities through its now four locations – and counting!
A couple weeks ago, I went to volunteer in Oakdale at Smile Farms at Skills Unlimited as a part of the 1-800-Flowers.com’s Summer of a Million Smiles program. After a day of volunteering with the employees there and getting the garden beds assembled and filled, I was able to go back today for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Getting to spend the morning with the farmers that I had previously worked with and gotten to know was awesome and it was even better seeing how excited they were for this event that openly showcased all of their hard work to get the farm ready in time.
So many people came to join in the celebration of opening this new location that was only started a month ago! In addition to the Smile Farms Team, Skills Unlimited employees and board members, we were joined by Jim McCann, the Executive Chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com and Board Chairman of Smile Farms, and New York Senator Phil Boyle. Seeing all of these people come together for such a great cause was extremely exciting and heartwarming. Everyone gathered in front of the newly planted gardens to cut the ribbon symbolizing the beginning of the partnership between Skills Unlimited and Smile Farms. The event was also recorded and will be featured on News 12.
Being surrounded by so many people with so much happiness and positive energy for the start of this farm created a very welcoming and positive atmosphere. It was so easy to see how proud everyone was, especially the employees at Skills Unlimited, making it easy to catch their excitement. I’m excited, as I’m sure is everyone else, to see how this farm will grow and what else will come out of this new and exciting partnership!
Yesterday, I woke up and drove to Oakdale to participate in a Summer of a Million Smiles event for 1-800- Flowers.com. We went to Smile Farms at Skills Unlimited and from the moment I arrived I not only felt welcome, but the energy from the farmers and other volunteers was contagious. Talking to the farmers and getting to know them was awesome. They had the most positive attitudes even on one of the hottest days of the year (96 degrees)! Every time I was feeling discouraged or tired from the heat or work the farmers smiled and it motivated me even more.
One of my favorite parts of the day was lunch, but not for the obvious reasons! This was an opportunity I had to sit down and talk to the farmers. It was awesome to hear about who they were, what their family was like, and even what their favorite thing they were growing was. As I got to know them, it gave me more and more of an appreciation for Smile Farms because what they provide for the community is so important. I cannot wait to watch Smile Farms grow even more and I look forward to volunteering again soon!
What a wonderful day! Numerous people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of our new location, Smile Farms at The Viscardi Center. I was lucky enough to take part in such a momentous celebration. I was surrounded by individuals with varying occupations that came together for a worthy cause. Board members of The Viscardi Center, IGHL and Smile Farms in addition with students from the school, employees of Hicks Nurseries, Assembly Members and Town Clerks attended this event. The CEO of The Viscardi Center, John Kemp as well as Executive Chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com and Board Chairman of Smile Farms, Jim McCann made heartfelt remarks. The event was recorded and will be featured on Fios1 News.
Attendees gathered around the beautiful hydroponic gardens as students and board members cut the ribbon, representing the beginning of the partnership between Smile Farms and The Viscardi Center.
Overall, the smiles from the attendees today were contagious and I could feel the sense of joy in the air. Myself along with many others are excited for the future plans of this location and cannot wait to see how sensational this partnership will be.
Smile Farms Intern
"Remarkable”. That was my exact thought after a couple hours spent at Smile Farms at IGHL. As I approached the Farm, I was welcomed by the staff that was delighted to have my colleagues and I as visitors. I admired the numerous flowers and plants that came in a variety of colors combined with the sunlight. Starting off in the retail store, I was greeted by many enthusiastic workers. These interactions filled my heart with joy as I was given numerous handshakes and even some hugs. The workers were excited to see new people and genuinely wanted to know about my day. They willingly shared information about their lives and were enthusiastic about their job. The time I spent with the employees truly warmed my heart. While I was already pleased with my visit, I was eager to see the rest of the property. As my tour continued, I caught a glimpse of greenhouses containing copious amounts of plants, garden beds with vibrant flowers and of course the coop in the back containing chickens, turkeys and peacocks. After leaving the farm, I am anxious to return. I loved having the experience of interacting with Smile Farm employees firsthand and seeing the results of their hard work. My visit exceeded all my expectations and I saw the true benefit and meaning behind Smile Farms.
Smile Farm Intern
I am Mira Awad and I am a Marketing Coordinator for Fruit Bouquets by 1800 Flowers.com. This past semester, I was lucky enough to serve as a consultant for Smile Farms for one of my final business classes in my college career. Although I’ve been an intern at 1-800-Flowers for several months and have heard about Smile Farms throughout the office, I never got to know what Smile Farms was truly about until this past semester.
In fifteen weeks, I spent hours doing extensive research about Smile Farms and learned about what they do and how they impact the lives of many developmentally disabled adults each day. I was extremely involved in accomplishing our tasks given by Smile Farms to give them our best recommendations on how they can expand and impact more lives. The more I worked on our tasks, the more interested I was to continue helping grow Smile Farms for them to help the lives of many others.
Working for Smile Farms over the semester really opened my eyes to a passion that I never thought I’d have. I found solace in knowing that the simple day to day tasks that may be challenging for a few never stopped the positivity in the work that these employees were doing. This sparked a fire in me to continue being a part of this organization and dedicate my time to such an incredible organization. I’ve always been interested in being a part of a non-profit organization and I’m happy to have had the chance to be a part of this one. I plan to continue helping the people behind the organization in their efforts to grow Smile Farms because I believe they have the power to positively affect the lives of others in the future.
Spring is in the air after another successful Emerald Volunteer Day!
The Greenhouse Workers at SmileFarms at IGHL were delighted to be joined by helpful volunteers this week. The 1-800-Flowers.com employees traveled from all over the country as part of their Emerald Leadership Development Program. The emeralds spent the day contributing to the success of Smile Farms at IGHL. They were all excited to lend a helping hand and many shared that they were impressed by how many greenhouses there are! The highlight of the day was after all the work was done, the Greenhouse Workers and the Emeralds got to spend some time together and get to know each other. The Greenhouse Workers could not believe some of the Emeralds traveled all the way from Ohio and Oregon to meet them.
Thank you to the Smile Farms at IGHL Greenhouse Workers and Staff for being such great hosts and to the 1-800-Flowers.com Emeralds for spending their time with us!
Smile Farms Inc., Intern