A Fort Worth family farm is cultivating opportunities and support for the special needs community. Stone’s Throw Farm Co. is a sustainable farm that produces fresh fruit, herbs, vegetables, pickles and jams, without the use of chemicals, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The products are grown, made and sold with the help of farm interns and farmers who have special needs.
“We know there’s a significant gap with regards to someone providing this type of work,” says Jack Stone, who owns and operates Stone’s Throw Farm Co. along with his wife Trish. “Folks that fall into these groups need a sense of accomplishment and belonging just like everyone else.”
Internships and farmer positions are available to teenagers (16 and up) and adults with special needs. If an intern progresses to the farmer level, they will be a paid member of the Stone’s Throw team. The Stones are currently working with six interns/farmers, with needs and conditions including autism, paralysis, developmental delays and deafness.
The desire to provide meaningful work for those with special needs is very personal to the Stones. Their youngest son Cru has cystic fibrosis, a progressive, genetic disease that causes lung infections and limits the ability to breathe.
“Fortunately, Cru has been quite healthy for a CF kid,” says Trish Stone. “However, many others are not as fortunate. Adults with a disease like CF who require lots of appointments and treatment—in some cases at school or work—can struggle to find work due to their inconsistent attendance.”
The Stones’ middle son, 14-year-old Jackson, has autism. “He’s incredibly charismatic and impacts every person he meets, but he could still end up not being qualified for a traditional entry-level job,” shares Trish Stone. “In our opinion, that doesn’t mean that he can’t do anything. He needs to do something and should. It would be a shame to not let him impact the world around him.”
The Stones find it incredibly rewarding to see their interns and farmers with special needs advance and succeed. “So many of these young adults just need someone to give them a chance and an appropriate training timeline that fits their needs,” explains Jack Stone.
The employees with special needs plant, weed and harvest on the farm, work in the kitchen making pickles and jams, and help customers at Stone’s Throw farm stands.
“I’m always trying to learn more about how to be more social, and this farm stand allows me to interact with people and learn how to talk with people,” shares Stone’s Throw employee Derek Thorn. “I have autism. I’m very shy, and I have problems talking to people, but I am doing my best. I think the best part of it really has been interacting with customers. I think that really has been an enjoyable thing, just saying hello and having a short conversation.”
Interested in a position? The Stones recommend visiting any of the pop-up farm stands in Fort Worth and surrounding areas to see interns and workers on the job; check out each week’s schedule at stonesthrowfarmco.org or facebook.com/stonesthrowfarmco. The Stones set up a meet-and-greet with prospective interns and then schedule them for an initial shift to ensure the position is a good fit for that individual.
To support Stone’s Throw Farm Co., you can shop the farm stands or volunteer to work alongside an intern. As a nonprofit, the organization accepts donations online and at farm stand locations.
Top image: photo courtesy of Mike Beitler from The Brand Movement