A Farm Less Ordinary 

Grant Recipient 2022

A Farm Less Ordinary is deeply grateful for the generous $10,000 grant awarded by the Virts Miller Foundation. This funding has catalyzed significant advancements in our mission to provide nearly year-round employment, particularly for our employees with Developmental and/or Intellectual Disabilities (DD/IDs), a community facing approximately 70% unemployment rates.  

Traditionally, our operations were suspended from mid-October to mid-March due to the seasonal nature of farming. However, our goal has always been to minimize this downtime. In 2019, we successfully extended our operational season by constructing a commercial greenhouse equipped with propane heating, which allowed us to continue operations until late November and resume in early February.  

Despite this progress, we faced the challenge of having to seasonally lay off our ‘Growers’ for about two and a half months each year. This downtime not only risked skill deterioration but also posed the threat of losing employees to other opportunities, often unpaid, which could lead to increased isolation and loss of community.  

To bridge this gap, we launched a pilot winter program at the end of the 2022 growing season. We invited our Growers to work one day a week during the off-season, from November 22nd to February 15th. The program was a resounding success: we achieved a 100% retention rate among participating Growers, witnessed virtually no skill deterioration, and importantly, our Growers reported feeling more connected and less isolated, maintaining crucial social ties.  

This initiative was primarily funded by grants from the Virts Miller Foundation, 100 Women Strong, and Loudoun County. Encouraged by this success, we aim to expand the program to two or three days a week by the end of this year. We hope the Virts Miller Foundation will consider renewing its support to help us reach this ambitious target.  

We are immensely thankful for your generosity and belief in our vision. It is our commitment to continue demonstrating that your investment is making a profound and positive impact on our organization and the lives of those we serve.