What: A sustainable farm and grocery that sells fruits, herbs, vegetables, pickles and jams. The organization employs people with disabilities.
Company founded: October 2020 by Trish and Jack Stone.
Where: 9560 Crowley Plover Road, Fort Worth, TX, 76126
Phone: (469) 502-8963
Fort Worth Report spoke with Trish Stone about the business. This interview has been edited for content, grammar and clarity.
Seth Bodine: You started farming in 2016?
Trish Stone: It was just a hobby. I started growing my own vegetables. We ended up buying a lot in Tarrant County. And we started growing vegetables out there. And my middle son has autism and the youngest one has cystic fibrosis and type one diabetes, and we kind of thought we’re going to make this farm and they’ll always be a place for them to work. You know when they age out of high school. And then we thought if we can do that for them, who else can we do that for? So we talked to our accountant and told him we wanted to turn our farming into a philanthropic or a charity. He thought we were crazy. But he said as soon as you prove that … it’s not a hobby … then you can go nonprofit. So we did it.
We opened a store in January of 2020. We came out with this food truck kind of thing to neighborhoods.
Bodine: What did you mean when you said they’ll always have a place to work?
Stone: If you have autism and you’re 21, you’re out of high school, there’s just not a whole lot waiting on you as far as jobs. There’s just not. The demand for it is way greater than the supply so we thought Jackson can always work with us. He can work here on the farm and live on the farm and help us raise vegetables and sell them and then we thought, who else could we do that for?
Bodine: How did you initially finance the farm when you were getting started?
Stone: I knew that I wanted to start my own business. I worked in corporate America for a long time. I worked in retail, so I worked for Old Navy. And so I literally just saved and saved, and I moved into the smallest townhouse I could find. And I drove cars that I didn’t have to pay on, so just cheap old cars. And we got lucky on a piece of land. We bought it before the Chisholm Trail Parkway went in. So land on that side of Fort Worth was still relatively affordable, and it’s only two acres. So we kind of got lucky with timing. And, yeah, I just saved and saved and saved.
Bodine: What kind of skills do you try to teach your interns?
Stone: Probably the most we’ve achieved with interns and skills is social skills. So we find a lot of people with autism or Down syndrome and we even have a gentleman who has lost hearing. So he’s deaf. Their families are very protective of them. And when it comes to leaving that core family unit or that core group of close friends, they’re scared. They’re scared to talk to people. They’re scared to look people in the eye. They don’t know what to do.
They feel uncomfortable. They feel awkward … making friends, learning how to work with others. Learning how to follow directions has also been a big thing.
Bodine: What have you learned along the way?
Stone: I’ve learned patience, patience and there’s always more than meets the eye. For example, if you have an intern who is quiet that day when they’re usually talkative, there’s probably a reason. So you know, just ask questions and try to get them out of their shell. Get the parents and parents or guardians in the loop to kind of find out.
Bodine: Any advice for entrepreneurs who might want to start a business?
Stone: Don’t get into debt. All that means is just wait longer. Work longer, keep your job, tuck that money away. Invest if you need to, just be smart about it. Save so that when you finally get the guts to take the leap, you have a little pad.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.