Leaders and supporters of the nonprofit A Farm Less Ordinary celebrated an expansion of its program on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new 3-acre growing area near Leesburg.
The land along Gleedsville Road was donated by Lynne and Michael Wright and will be used by the nonprofit for three years. U.S. Rep. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-VA-10th), County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President Tony Howard joined in the celebration.
Bluemont-based A Farm Less Ordinary was created by Greg Masucci and Maya Wechsler to help adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities hone habits, social skills, and behaviors that can be used in any work setting. Growers are hired after completing job interviews. They are given specific responsibilities and measurable goals. They are paid for their work, and wages increase as those goals are met. Their skills develop from tasks related to farming, producing finished products like jams, pickles, and jellies, and working at the Wednesday Leesburg Farmers’ Market.
The new growing space on the Wright’s property not only provides an expansion of the farm operations, but also is more centrally located—making travel to and from the Leesburg Farmer’s Market much easier. In addition to selling products at farmer’s markets and local special events, the nonprofit also offers a weekly Community Supported Agriculture program, delivering boxes of organically-grown produce to subscribers at locations between Bluemont and Washington, DC. Howard said he is one of the nonprofit’s CSA subscribers.
“When Maya and I drew this out on the back of napkin in 2014, it was just kind of a dream,” Masucci said. “We just wanted to create a welcoming place for people who needed work and needed a chance. We feel that we’ve done that.”
Wexton said the nonprofit provides an important service.
“One of the things that has made me disappointed and sad is that we don’t have more opportunities for these young people when they age out of the school system. That has been something that we’ve been working on for years, but we can’t do it alone in the government. We need help from folks like you and organizations like A Farm Less Ordinary. I want to thank you for doing everything you’ve done of the community,” she said.
Twenty-three-year-old Ian Rogers, of Round Hill, graduated from Woodgrove High School last year. He said he has autism and passions for acting, singing and songwriting. At A Farm Less Ordinary, he’s found another passion. He joined the staff in April.
“Since then, I’ve been working really hard on being the best farmer I can be,” he said,
Learn more about the nonprofit at afarmlessordinary.org.