Why We Do What We Do We are a nonprofit farm seeking to provide employment to our community's adults with intellectual disabilities, all while provid

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AFLO Newsletter Banner Summer 2016
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Why We Do What We Do

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Martha and Sarah (from Legacy Farms), and Josh and Erik (Our Growers) pick peas this past spring.

We are a nonprofit farm seeking to provide employment to our community's adults with intellectual disabilities, all while providing the greater D.C. area with fresh (and sometimes not so typical!) organic produce. A Farm Less Ordinary (AFLO) is a safe and welcoming community for these unique folks, a place where they can figure out what they're good at - seeding versus weeding, harvesting versus washing -- and learn general employment skills that they will need to work anywhere.

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Our job coach Sarah, from partner organization Legacy Farms, helps our grower, Josh, start fall crop seedlings.

Clarke County High School Special Education teacher Ben Bates has built a solid relationship with Maya and Greg (AFLO co-founders), resulting in the employment of several of his students at the farm over summer break. When asked how he believes AFLO will benefit the community, he simply stated that "as educators, it is our responsibility to make sure our students are taken care of outside of and after high school. Any time we are able to put those with disabilities into the workforce, we show the world what few disabilities they have, and what abilities they do have. I think A Farm Less Ordinary is a great place for my students to thrive and show the world what they're made of."

With that, Mr. Bates has summed up AFLO's purpose. We believe that when individuals with disabilities are given jobs appropriately matched to their skills, they contribute to their communities, families, and peers. It is simply a matter of taking a little extra time to identify their talents, interests, and areas for development before setting them loose on a task and watching them succeed.

We have learned that certain approaches lead to greater clarity and results on the farm. These include scheduling regular breaks, modeling the activity before assigning it, using concrete language (free of idioms and jargon), and encouraging our growers to ask questions when they need more information.

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There were some unbelievable hydraulics involved in delivering our shed.

 
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Noah helps put some harvested veggies in our cooler.

 
Peter in Front of AFLO Sign

Peter is proud of his work at AFLO.

Our Accomplishments: Thanks to generous donors and the sale of CSA shares during our first year (we received our 501(c)3 status in January of this year!), our farm is unrecognizable from its early days. We now have a packing/cooling shed where we prepare our CSA shares for delivery each week, an outdoor sink for washing produce, and a new sign (so the city people can find us out here in the boonies!). This spring, we will put up our hoop house, where we can start our seedlings and extend our growing season. We hope to have the funds soon to buy a tractor, which will help us clear the garden in the fall and spring to plant cover crops, and to prepare another acre of land next year for an even larger growing area. This is only the beginning!

Come Out and See Us

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Family-Friendly Event If you're looking to get out into the Shenandoah Valley/Blue Ridge Mountains (we're in Wine Country!), please consider checking out our Day Less Ordinary on September 10th. We have a big day planned for you - a morning at Great Country Farms followed by lunch and a quick tour of a farm, and finished off with a two-hour tube float down the Shenandoah River--all in Bluemont, VA. For tickets, please click here.

Famous Bluemont Fair Another fun event in our 'hood is the Bluemont Fair on September 17-18. There will be all kinds of food, juried crafts, interactive exhibits, local beer and wine, excellent music. Bluemont is an adorable little village and this fair is a surprisingly big event, with tons of visitors and a lively atmosphere. While there, stop by and visit our table to say hi!

Capitol Hill Chipotle Fundraiser On October 25th (we know--that's over two months away!) please bring everyone you know in the DC area over to the Capitol Hill/8th Street SE Chipotle restaurant. From 5-9pm, when you mention A Farm Less Ordinary at check-out, Chipotle will donate 50% of the sale of your meal to us! It's an easy and tasty way to help us out. We will remind you again closer to date the event - don't worry!

Meet the Team So Far

Grower - Hassan

Pictured: Hassan

 
Grower - Noah

Pictured: Noah

 
Grower - Erik

Pictured: Erik

Grower-Josh

Pictured: Josh

 
Grower - Peter-Smaller

Pictured: Peter

Maya and Greg: Co-founders of A Farm Less Ordinary. Maya is the Farmer in Chief and Greg is the Chief of Fixing and Building Stuff.

Max and Delilah: future farmers and stealers of sleep, these kids are the inspiration behind the farm. Maya and Greg sought to create a "tribe" for Max, where he could spend his life with like-minded people who appreciate the contributions he and his peers will make to our world.

Hassan, Peter, Noah, Josh, Erik: These guys represent our summer '16 growers (we hope they'll join us again in the spring to start seedlings in our new hoophouse). You set these focused guys loose and just watch how much they accomplish!

Sarah: She's a job coach for Josh and Erik, and comes to us thanks to our partnership with Legacy Farms. Working with these two guys is--according to a recent post on Facebook--her favorite job ever.

Paige: The newest addition to our team, Paige comes from Clarke County HS as our first ever marketing intern.

We would also love to give a little shout-out to Martha from Legacy Farms. This Loudoun County-based non-profit has placed three people with us this summer, and has offered us countless volunteer hours and advice as our "mentor non-profit".

What's Growing?

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Our Crops: We are in the middle of CSA season and our new cooler (thank-you donors!) is overflowing. So far, we have delivered red and white onions, red, gold, and purple potatoes, more heirloom tomatoes than we know what to do with, yellow and green zucchini, cucumbers, purple and white eggplants, spaghetti squash, peppers, radishes, beets, lettuce, and kale, with plenty of growing weeks left in the season. Teeny weeny watermelons have been spotted, along with our first ever artichoke. Our fall crops (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, radishes, beets, broccoli, greens, and squash) are being planted right now, although it's hard to believe that the temperature will ever cool down!

Our Team: No longer a team of two, we're proud to welcome five new employees ("growers"), a job coach (thanks to our partners at Legacy Farms), and a fairly regular stream of volunteers (including special needs families and people all the way from Capitol Hill). Apart from our everyday staff, we open our arms to anyone willing to get their hands dirty. Volunteers will get opportunity to try their hand at some typical farm jobs. If you are interested in a nice day out in the country, or introducing your kids to the possibility of agricultural work, please email us at info@afarmlessordinary.org. We promise to send you home with whatever is being harvested that week!

Group Pic

Pictured (left to right): Greg, Delilah, Martha, Erik, Josh, Hassan, Noah, Maya, and Max

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