Located in Hamilton Township lies a new business on a mission to serve the community — and two of the men Eden supports are playing an important role.
GeoGreens is an indoor hydroponics farm that grows fresh, local produce year-round. Not only do they grow a variety of vegetables, herbs, and microgreens, but they focus on providing these items to food insecure areas and food swamps and/or deserts throughout the region. From schools and local supermarkets to soup kitchens and assisted living centers, GeoGreens aims to provide the community with quality, healthy ingredients.
“We tailor our business model toward these particular niches and areas where people do not have availability nor the access to nutritional produce,” said Desmond Hayes, Owner and Founder of GeoGreens.
Desmond opened GeoGreens in 2015. When he expanded to the Hamilton area in 2021, he was in need of staff. He didn’t have any prior experience working with individuals with autism, but after connecting with Eden Autism he knew there was another opportunity to support both his business and those in his community.
After learning about the skills Desmond was seeking in his employees, Brooks Sanders, Manager of Employment Services, brought in Michael and Tom to begin working at GeoGreens two days a week.
“During the developmental phase of employment, our team enjoys educating our potential new hires about the company, coworkers, and job responsibilities,” said Brooks. “If all goes well our next step is a tour. In the case of Michael and Tom, they were both excited and nervous about a career path in farming, but now these guys have really started to develop a pair of green thumbs.”
Michael and Tom work at the end of the harvesting cycle. In addition to cleaning and sanitizing all of the equipment, they dispose of the compost — a vital part of the overall process. The vertical-growing facility typically produces up to three tons of microgreens, leafy greens, and herbs monthly, making it all the more important that every part of the harvest cycle runs smoothly.
“There was a learning curve,” said Desmond. “It took some time to see where in the process they would work best. But I know these guys are coming in every single week. They know what they’ll be doing and they’re ready to do it. It’s the reliability. What I’m trying to do with the business, to grow and evolve, I need employees who are reliable and going to be here.”
“When businesses create opportunities for individuals with autism to demonstrate their abilities, they gain dedicated, driven employees,” said Eden Autism President & CEO Michael Decker. “We are grateful to businesses like GeoGreens for seeing the value in hiring people with developmental disabilities. When we work together, our entire community becomes stronger.”
Desmond hopes that his work with Eden can be a long-lasting partnership, one where more individuals supported by Eden can become part of the GeoGreens process. “It’s a great opportunity for both of us,” he said.