Education and community-oriented Berry Good Farms offers a variety of seasonal produce to Jacksonville and the North Florida area. But the farm isn’t just a place to find local, organic produce. It’s also an extension of the nonprofit North Florida School of Special Education (NFSSE). The program introduces horticulture and the production of agricultural goods to the curriculum which helps educate and train students with intellectual disabilities.

“They plant, weed, grow wheatgrass, micro greens, veggie starts and harvest items when ready,” said Ellen Hiser, director of Berry Good Farms.

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As a result, Berry Good Farms prepares young adults with special needs to enter their community as productive and independent citizens. Their working knowledge of agriculture will develop into career opportunities, and their employment with the program helps provide the community with a variety of seasonal produce.

“Berry Good Farms is thriving under the care of a committed staff and over 50 young adults,”  said Hiser of the farm’s successful operations.

Their 30-foot x 60-foot greenhouse enables the production of vegetables and fruits all year. Some of these selections include onions, broccoli and blueberries which are often sold to local health food grocers, markets and restaurants.

In addition to an abundance of local fruits and vegetables, Berry Good Farms also offers other products and educational programs such as a food truck and the production of organic dog treats.

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Curbside Farm to Table 

Thanks to the successful exposure at OneSpark 2014, Berry Good Farms on the Go will the first of its kind in the community. That is, it will be the only mobile kitchen in Jacksonville offering items directly from farm to table (or in this case, plate or hand). The food truck will also carry bags of their organic produce ready for purchase. This includes seasonal items like kale, cucumbers and micro greens. Similar to the farm, all operations will employ young adults with disabilities, creating careers and future employment opportunities. Menu items include wraps, soup, bruschetta and salads. Additionally, 100 percent of the profits will be reinvested into the program. Follow the truck via Twitter (BGFatNFSSE) and Facebook (Berry Good Farms at NFSSE).

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Organic Pet Treats 

Barkin’ Biscuits is the newest addition to Berry Good Farms’ lineup of vocational programs. Students learn about the process of making dog treats from rolling the dough to packaging the final product for retail. The treats are made from all-natural ingredients and include wheatgrass, parsley, mint and rosemary straight from the farm. They can be purchased in various locations around town such as Jack and Diane’s (Amelia Island), Earth Pets (San Jose Boulevard) and Driftwood (Jacksonville Beach). Orders can also be placed by calling NFSSE at (904) 724-8323.

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Ways to Support

Berry Good Farms thrives on donations and community support. Here are a few ways you can help out:

  1. Adopt a farm, green house, vegetable garden row, or berry-producing row.
  2. Purchase a fruit tree or berry bush.
  3. Purchase new garden tools for the students.