Hicks Nurseries and Smile Farms grow together
Spring is in full swing at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, Long Island. This past March, Hicks hosted their 27th Annual Flower and Garden Show as a charity event for a great cause, Smile Farms. The proceeds from the event will help Smile Farms build more greenhouse facilities.
Smile Farms started 15 years ago when Jim McCann, Founder and CEO of 1-800-flowers.com, and Chris McCann, President of 1-800-flowers.com, built a greenhouse to give disabled adults the opportunity of employment. The McCanns’ brother, Kevin, lived in a group home that was having difficulty finding jobs for their residents.
“The organization really surrounds itself around Kevin,” said Monica Martinez, Development and Community Relations Manager at Smile Farms. “Our mission and vision is to create employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities in a very agricultural setting.”
Martinez helps Smile Farms facilitate their events. During the charity event, they will announce their partnership with The Viscardi Center which will employ about ten adults. Currently, Smile Farms has a location in Moriches, New York and a vocational farm in Turlock, California.
“It’s more than just employing individuals; it’s really about creating that awareness,” said Martinez.
Smile Farms is designed for disabled adults who have aged out of traditional educational programs. As word spread of their first greenhouse, Flower Barn, families from all over the country reached out to the McCanns for help in giving others the chance to earn a paycheck, create friendships and feel like a contributing member of the community. In September of 2015, Flower Barn transitioned into Smile Farms with a total of two locations and plans to expand over the next five years.
Karen Musgrave, Marketing and Education Specialist of Hicks Nurseries, believes that horticulture is important to the community and being able to work with Smile Farms helps spread awareness to the high unemployment rate of disabled adults. The charity event is their first time working with Smile Farms but Musgrave knows it won’t be the last. Employees from Hicks also plan on visiting the Moriches, New York location this summer to volunteer. At Moriches, annuals, perennials, vegetables,
Employees from Hicks also plan on visiting the Moriches, New York location this summer to volunteer. At Moriches, annuals, perennials, vegetables, micro-greens, and spices are grown and sold.
“We also will be buying plants from them this summer to sell in here in the store,” says Musgrave. “This is a great fit for us to help a charity like this.”
This year, Smile Farms plans to open three to four more additional locations, creating about 40 jobs. At Smile Farms, they pride themselves on growing much more than just plants, they are also growing people.