The owners of a farm in southwest Fort Worth believe their fresh produce can plant the seeds for something good to happen in special needs families.
Stone's Throw Farm operates out of a small fleet of rolling farm stands like the one it sets up on Friday at Three Danes Baking Company in Fort Worth. The stands are stocked with fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables along with canned pickles and jams.
The farm stands serve another purpose, too. They provide internships and work opportunities for special needs teenagers and adults like Derek Thorn.
"I'm always trying to learn how to be more social, and this farm stand allows me to interact with people and learn how to talk to people," Thorn said. I'm shy. I have autism. I'm very shy. and I have problems talking to people, but I am doing my best."
Farm owner Jack Stone says he and his wife started their business five years ago and recently added the nonprofit arm to serve special needs families like theirs.
"The root for us starting that was our middle son Jackson. He has autism himself. He's a really charismatic dude who impacts everybody he know but, he probably will be a bit short of an entry level job in terms of his ability,"Stone said of his son, 14. "But in my opinion, that doesn't mean he can't do nothing, that he can still impact the world once he gets past school."
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Getting past school, though, will bring a new challenge for Stone's son.
"Once he ages out of school, for a lot of kids like that, there's just not a lot waiting on them. And, we just thought we could fill that gap." Stone said as he talked about the new internship program.
"The business side we established over the last five years, and we're really putting anything and everything we do into special needs teens and adults every where we can. Some of them work all the way toward a paid position. Some are just internships to get them used to working," Stone said.
Thorn is among the first three to get into the program.
"Right now, he's taeching me about the different types of vegetables and learning prices and names and how to cook 'em and that sort of thing," he said. "This is a great job. I really like it."
Thorn hopes he can eventually run his own farm stand but for now, he's learning to embrace the customer service part of the job.
"I think the best part of it really has been interacting with customers. I think that really has been an enjoyable thing, just syaing hello and having a short conversation," he smiled.
You can find the farm stands at various locations. The schedule is posted on the Stone's Throw Farm Facebook page.