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Farmer’s Market Blog

Connect Plus Therapy is “Growing Green”

At Connect Plus Therapy, we understand the need of programs and services for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by creating our latest project, “Growing Green” we are taking a unique approach to supporting individuals with ASD in gaining the social and occupational skills necessary for employment, through the various avenues of horticulture.  At our weekly meetings the participants have worked on data entry, internet research, resume building, horticultural education, social skills, and so much more.

Our program focuses on developing strong work ethics, new friendships, and teamwork through basic horticultural applications.  Introducing our group to the gardening world has blossomed into more than we could have ever expected. Thus far, each participant has gained experience with propagation, plant care, and has entered plants into the 2019 Philadelphia Flower Show.

With the great success of our previous project, Connect Plus is taking the next step.  We are now “Growing Green.” For the past several weeks our group has planted seeds, cared for plants, and learned new crafts to sell at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market.  By becoming vendors at the HHFM, our team will gain real world experience while interacting in the community. We will continue to foster the same principles of gaining marketable and social skills.  The group’s achievements will be rooted in building customer service skills, networking, sharing employment responsibilities, and earning money from the inventory that we have produced. Join us every Sunday 9:30-1:30 from May until the end of October at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market and help us “grow green!”

Our “Growing Green” social skills group for Autism has worked on job understanding and career skills through community based activities. They have planted, grown, picked and sold an abundance of cucumbers. This has created…“Pickles With a Purpose!”

In just a few short days the pickles were pre-sold out! While the team members (aged 21-27) wait for those pickles to perfect…the labels must be chosen. Please help the “Growing Green” team with the customer research phase by picking your favorite label!

Thanks for helping “Pickles With A Purpose!”

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Week 1  3/12/19

The Philadelphia Flower Show has come to an end, and our team at Connect Plus has once again blossomed into yet another fantastic “growing” idea!  Our adults with Autism horticultural social group is now headed to the Haddon Heights Farmer’s Market. The sky is the limit with VFTFP (Venus Fly Trap Flower Power).  For the next couple of months we will be growing vegetables from seed, caring for them, and then selling them at the farmer’s market. We will also be selling various crafts that our team will be creating.  Finally, once our own vegetable gardens are ready to be harvested, we will also be selling our home grown produce. Our team has so much to look forward to. However, gardening and crafts will not be the only responsibilities our team will have.  By the end of this program, each member will have a completed resume, along with stronger occupational, social, and employment skills to benefit his or her future. I’m so excited to get this started and to watch our team work together yet again to support each other’s highest potentials.  

 

Week 2  3/19/19

Time to head out and paint the town!  Tonight we had a special guest lead our team in a paint session.  What a hit! Who knew all the talented artists VFTFP has! A very special thank you to Aly Smith for taking the time to teach us all some techniques to help us create one-of-a-kind beautiful paintings to sell at the Farmer’s Market. Our team had a blast, each member was so focused that they all almost forgot to take a break!  That does not happen too often. Well done Aly! We truly appreciated all of your efforts for our team! I think we will have to repeat this activity in the near future.

 

Week 3  3/26/19

Back to the grind… Tonight’s meeting was work.  We watered our seedlings, and researched proper care for sunflowers.  After that we spent a little time writing out Thank Yous to all the lovely volunteers at PHS that helped us with the Flower Show.  Our craft this week was to paint flower pots. I’m definitely excited by how much our team loves to paint… we have plenty of crafts to get done in time for the Farmer’s Market.  Tonight we also introduced some customer service tehniques to better prepare our team as vendors for the Farmer’s Market. We started with a video model for the guys to watch and then we broke up into groups and acted out potential sales examples.  It went so well. Everyone was so impressed with how smoothly everything ran. Of course, there will be countless variables from customer to customer at the Farmer’s Market and no sales will be the same as the previous. However, our team at Connect Plus carries out all therapy with heart, and by supporting each other.  We have really started to show each other the support needed to create the most positive work environment, and to help our team reach its goals.

 

 

Week 4  4/2/19

Work night!  Tonight’s meeting- simply put… work.  We all split up into work stations and rotated once the timer went off.  We started creating our individual resumes for each member, painted flower pots red, white, and blue for Memorial Day sales, and rehearsed strong customer service sales prompts.  Our conference room was fairly quiet tonight due to all of our hard work and dedication to our tasks at hand. Once each member got through each station, we watered our plants and called it a night.  I’m proud of all the great work ethic we saw tonight for Connect Plus VFTFP!

Week 5  4/9/19

GAME NIGHT!!  We have been working so hard, and everyone deserves a break now and then, so we unanimously voted on taking turns choosing different things to research, watch, and to talk about.  

 

Week 6   4/16/19

Tonight’s meeting was another great success!  Our plants are coming along nicely, we got to water them and check to make sure that everything was “coming up roses.”  We also broke into work stations again, painted tiles for coasters to sell, practiced good customer service and sales prompts, and continued plugging away at our resumes.  The Farmer’s Market is just a few weeks away, and I’m pretty confident that Connect Plus VFTFP will be ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7  4/23/19

It’s getting so close!!  Tonight’s meeting was the first one held at one of our teammate’s house.  From here on out, all our meetings will be out of the office and “in the field;” tomato and potato fields that is!  Tonight we learned how to make candles with essential oils that smelled oh so good! We each made one that we will wrap next week to give to our moms for Mother’s Day.  This craft will definitlety be repeated as well so our team can sell them at the market.

 

 

The Haddon Heights Farmer’s Market is in 2 weekends! Its every Sunday at 9:30-1:30 from May 5th until the end of 

October,  there will only be a couple weeks that we will not be in attendance, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.  Please come out and show our team some love and support!  Come see us and help our cause! 

 

 

Week 8 4/30/19

Well gang, here it is!  Our debut at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market is only days away.  We have come a long way, and tonight our Venus Fly Trap Flower Power Team has definitely demonstrated our progresses.  We set up workstations tonight to keep a stea

dy work pace and to stay on task. Initially, we reviewed our social narrative pertaining to HHFM expectations and discussed any concerns that our group may have.  We then started the timer and split up into rotating stations. We took care of counting inventory, wrapping our Mother’s Day gifts, and practicing customer service sales. I truly cannot express how proud I am to see all the skills and experiences that our team has gained through working together.  It has not always been easy and we all have our own struggles, but it’s a great feeling when you know you have the support of your teammates! Speaking of teammates, one of our VFTFP members is celebrating his birthday this week, Happy Birthday to You!!! We hope it’s a great one! And of course… Come out and see all our hard work come to “fruition!”

 

5/5/19

Our first debut at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market was an incredible success! Though the weather could’ve been better, less windy, less chilly, less rainy; our team stuck it out and even shared some smiles and good conversation.  Our group was also able to put all our hard work and practice to real life customer service situations. We couldn’t be more excited for such an inviting and positive environment. It was truly a wonderful feeling to be a part of such a supportive community.  Everyone loved our team, our principles, and our products. We even sold out of some of our inventory… But don’t fret! We will make sure our Autism bracelets are back in stock for Sunday 3/19! We can’t wait to relive this success every Sunday, come check us out and help us “grow green!”

Week 9 5/7/19

Well, there’s definitely something going around.  One by one some members of our team have fallen ill.  So, we decided to have our Tuesday night’s meeting back at the office to have a game night, celebrate another member’s birthday, and to hand out the Mother’s Day gifts that our team had worked so hard to make.  And what are they might you ask? Homemade candles! And they smell amazing! We will not be at the Farmers Market this week as we will all be observing Mother’s Day with all our fantastic mothers in our group!

 

Week 10 5/13/19

Is it May yet?  I don’t know about everyone else, but I can truly say that I am done with this early spring weather!  And our plants are too! It has been so rainy and so chilly lately, and today was no different. However, that didn’t keep our group from getting done the necessary jobs for this week’s Farmers Market!  We started out like any other meeting, greeting each other and working on our conversational skills, and then we split up into stations. We repotted peppermint, chocolate mint, and spearmint, painted coasters to sell, and discussed good customer service tips.  Looking ahead at the weather for this week we are all really excited… wit

hout jinxing us, I’d like to say that this Sunday’s forecast is warm and sunny!! I hope you come out and see us!

5/19/19

What a beautifully fantastic day!  The weather was gorgeous and so many people were out and about and stopped by our tent to buy our plants!  This week we almost sold out of our Mammoth Sunflowers! But not to worry we will have some more in a few weeks ready to go!  This week we also sold peppermint, chocolate mint, spearmint, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some Autism Awareness gear. The guys did great.  It was hot, and lots of foot traffic. At times our table had 3 transactions going at the same time. However, our guys have trained for such situations and I’m so pleased to say that they handled the crowds with great professionalism and teamwork. Today was an awesome example of what the Connect Plus “Growing Green” program is all about.  

Week 11  5/21/19

Back to the grind.  At today’s meeting we created our Farmer’s Market work shirts, watered our vegetable garden, and discussed good business skills.  I must say, our t-shirts look amazing! We used tie dye so each shirt is completely unique. Next we can price out some printing shops and get our company logo on them.  I can’t wait for us all to have matching work shirts to wear on Sundays!

Week 5/26/19

Another great day at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market.  Although some of us did not want to get out of bed, once we were there, we worked hard and had a good time meeting new people.  This week we sold thyme, mammoth sunflowers, chamomile, basil, chives, mint, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and our handmade candles.  We only have Lemongrass scented candles at the moment because that is the only scent that all our guys liked. Next time we will branch out a little more and try some new scents.  However, people really liked our Lemongrass candles and we only have a couple left! Stop by next Sunday to get your Lemongrass candle or whatever our flavor of the week will be!

Week 12   5/28/19

Today’s meeting was another success.  The guys had plenty to do. We repotted mint that we rooted, planted more sunflower seeds, weeded the garden, and made more candles.  This time the guys mixed a couple of different scents. Check us out this Sunday at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market! We will have some perennials to sell such as Lambs Ear, Money Plants, and Sunflowers!! Yes, we have perennial sunflowers!

6/2/19

What a great day we had at the Farmers Market.  It has been so gratifying to see the guys skills progress in sales, networking, and teamwork.  Of course we are still learning and working hard to improve every week. I think at our next meeting it will be good to discuss the responsibilities of an employee to keep our group striving to work together, and to show up to work on time, and to try to separate our outside lives from the time we spend at work.  Something we all need to work on from time to time.  

Week 13   6/4/2019

 

No time to spare today!  We got right to work as soon as the guys arrived!  One highlight of today’s meeting is the amount of focus and determination our members displayed with our stations.  Today we repotted mint, labeled all the peppermint, chocolate mint, and spearmint, and painted more coasters to sell.  We weren’t supposed to label the mints today, however, one of our members completed all of the repotting necessary for the day so I was able to give the other members a different job once it was time for them to be at the repotting station.  How impressive is that? The members typically repot 3-4 plants during the allotted time for that station. This young man repotted 12. What a great accomplishment and a fantastic demonstration of great work ethic. Way to go Growing Green Team!!

Week 6/9/19

We have regulars!!  Thank you to everyone that has supported us at the Farmers Market and that have given us business as well!  Our program needs YOU! The guys are doing so well with our customers and we are now starting to see some of the same faces from week to week.  The Haddon Heights Farmers Market is more than just buying fruit, vegetables, or organic soaps. It’s about community, supporting each other, team work, and we are so fortunate to be a part of it all.  Thank you everyone for helping our group gain the experiences necessary to seek future employment and to build relationships with people outside of our group. If you haven’t checked us out yet, please come see us!  We will be off next Sunday for Father’s Day but will return Sunday 6/23/19 from 9:30-1!

Week 14  6/11/19

Happy Father’s Day!  Today’s meeting was a special one as our participants sat together at the table and shared different ideas to help each other along with their Father’s Day gifts.  First, they decorated a mug with oil based sharpies and let it bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes. While the mugs were baking the guys discussed different chores or favors they could do for their fathers and wrote them down on strips of paper to make them look like coupons.  Once the mugs were down the guys stuffed the coupons in their mugs and put them in gift bags. It was so great to see everyone working together to make their Father’s Day gifts absolutely perfect. Fantastic work everyone!!

Week 15 6/18/19

With so much visible progress with the members in our growing program, we decided today would be the perfect day to discuss the responsibilities and roles of a good employee.  We sat around the table and took turns discussing important matters that happen from day to day in the work environment. What should we do if we will be late for work? Is it a good thing to be late? Of course not, but there are proper steps to be taken in order to make the situation better and to let your employer know when you will be able to make it to work.  Teamwork is and always has been one of Growing Green’s mantras, but it was great to mention teamwork today and have the members describe what it means to them being this far into the program. At today’s meeting we also prepped for this upcoming Haddon Heights Farmers Market. This Sunday we will be selling the ingredients needed for a delicious baked goods called Lemon Thyme Bars; to include freshly cut lemon thyme that we grow in our garden.  We will also be selling more Mammoth Sunflowers, a variety of mints, handmade candles, basil, lambs ears, perennial sunflowers, and so much more! We hope to see you this Sunday at the corner of Station Ave and Atlantic Ave in Haddon Heights 9:30-1!

 

Week 6/23/19

Phew! What a hot and sunny summer day!  Sales were a little light today, it seemed clear that most people were either staying indoors or taking advantage of the sun and headed to the shore.  Nevertheless, Growing Green had another successful day at the farmers market.  

Our team is becoming more and more fluent in customer service skills with each transaction.  If you haven’t done so, come check us out!

 

Week 16 6/25/19

A day on the farm!  Today’s meeting was held at Mood’s Farm in Mullica Hill, NJ… and it was so neat!  Our group loved it. We started out as we do every other Tuesday, greeting each other, having a little small talk, and reviewing our team mission.  And then we got to work! Our group goal for the day was to learn how to properly pick fruit from a plant. Pretty soon our own produce will be ready for harvesting and we figured it would be a good idea to practice so we’d know what to do in our own gardens.  So, we handed out baskets, set a timer for 15 minutes, and headed over to the blueberry bushes. The guys did great! I was completely impressed with how focused they stayed and continued to work until the timer went off. I was particularly impressed with one of our members as he overcame his fear of bees and other insects as we were working outside.  I know that wasn’t easy for him and I’m proud of how he handled working with nature. After the timer went off, we headed to the farm stand where our team got to weigh the blueberries we picked and pay the cashier. What a “growing” experience our meeting was today. I truly can’t say enough how proud I am of how productive and positive our team was with each other.  I hope we head back to the farm soon; so much learning done today.

 

6/30- No farmers market this week.  Happy 4th of July!

 

Week 17 7/2/19

Another community outing!  With all the hard work and dedication our team has put into the Growing Green program, it’s about time our members had another game night.  Today’s meeting was held at Tilt World in Voorhees. The guys got to play games, hang out, and of course meet up for the Growing Green mission review and have a snack.  That’s definitely my idea of an amazing game night. Good job guys, you deserve it!

Week 7/7/19

Sheesh!! Another scorcher and another slow day with sales.  We’re thinking sales may be slow in the middle of summer due in part to excessive heat and also people taking vacations.  Nevertheless, our day at the farmers market was a success. One of our clients has been increasing his time spent at the market little by little each week.  This week he increased his time by an additional 5 minutes, bringing his total work shift to an hour and 10 minutes. Great job dude! Come see us next Sunday 7/14 and see what we have in stock!

Week 18 7/9/19

Productivity!!  Growing Green did a fantastic job staying focused and on task today!  Each team member cut and rooted 20 pieces of mint. The last time we did this job each were able to clip 5 before wanting a break.  Amazing progress guys! In about a week or so, they will be able to transplant them to sell at the farmer’s market. We also set a timer for 10 minutes and did a conversation exercise called “Chatterbox.”  There are 2 boxes/bowls, one with all the participants names, and the other with questions to help prompt a conversation. Everyone loved it and we really had a great conversation for 10 straight minutes. After all that, the guys still managed to log into their own emails and request more donations from other staff at Connect Plus Therapy.  If you get a chance, come see us this Sunday at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market, we will be there from 9:30-1!!

7/14/19

Its Sunday!  Thank you to all that donated crops and bags to Growing Green for this weeks’ Haddon Heights Farmers Market!  It was stifling hot but that didn’t keep our group from showing up to work. We had people drop off fresh homegrown cucumbers, fresh cut basil, and lemon thyme.  Thank you everyone! We will see you next week!

Week 19  7/16/19

OK!! Here we go… On to the next endeavor!!  So this weekend we got an abundant donation of cucumbers… which we had plenty left over… which only led us to think of one thing…  The guys are going to make pickles!! They are going to create their own emails and request online orders from Connect Plus Therapy staff to start.  We need a name, a catchy one.. Any ideas? This is so exciting, its just another anevue for our Growing Green group to gain more experiences in variuos settings and aspects.  I can’t wait to keep you posted on all their progress.

7/21/19

No farmers market today, we are in the middle of a heat wave 🙁

Week 20   7/23/19

Amazing news!  A lovely lady from Connect Plus Therapy reached out to Burpee requesting a donation for our program.  Burpee was happy to help and sent us a very generous amount of starter seeds for us to grow next spring!  What a heartwarming gesture. Thank you Burpee! At today’s meeting, Growing Green reviewed our multiple missions, spent 10 minutes with the Chatterbox exercise, and revamped resumes adding all the work and experiences gained from their summer job at the farmers market, sent out emails pertaining to the pickle orders and answered any emails they have received. Have a great week and see you this Sunday at the Haddon Heights Farmers Market!

 

Week 21 7/30/19

The guys worked on checking as well as  answering emails for pickle orders!!!!  The guys role played how to greet and talk to customers at the farmers market as well as spend time asking and answering questions among each other. 

The Guys did a great job at The Farmers Market. Business was slow but that did not stop the guys from greeting people that walked by and being ready as soon as a customer walked up to the table. Great job guys! 

Week 22 8/6/19

 Pickles with a Purpose is in full effect!! The guys did a great job following directions, taking turns, and working together when preparing the cucumbers that will eventually be pickles!! Everyone was focused and patient with all the steps of the recipe along with cleaning up afterwards!! Pickles with a purpose is truly off to a great start!

 

Our “Growing Green” social skills group for Autism has worked on job understanding and career skills through community based activities. They have planted, grown, picked and sold an abundance of cucumbers. This has created…“Pickles With a Purpose!”

In just a few short days the pickles were pre-sold out! While the team members (aged 21-27) wait for those pickles to perfect…the labels must be chosen. Please help the “Growing Green” team with the customer research phase by picking your favorite label!

Thanks for helping “Pickles With A Purpose!” https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1CCje8OJ2ejZn4NWmB6-CmKB8PrKSTBCvXkRzWLbWcjk/edit?vc=0&c=0&w=1&pli=1

Our “Growing Green” social skills group for Autism has worked on job understanding and career skills through a variety of activities. Most recently, they have planted, grown, picked and sold an abundance of cucumbers.  This has created…“Pickles With a Purpose!”

In just a few short days the pickles were pre-sold out!  The guys got to work on slicing,, marinating, labeling and working on their customer serv

 

ice skills. The pickles were ready for pick up yesterday and the team got to show off all their new job skills.  Congratulations guys, for a job well done!