2023 Nassau BOCES Education Partner Award Honoree
Diana Martin, Managing Director
Smile Farms creates meaningful employment, vocational, and educational opportunities for people with disabilities in agriculture and hospitality. Founded in 2015 by Jim and Chris McCann of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., Smile Farms started as a single greenhouse operation. Now in its 8th year, the non-profit organization has grown to encompass 11 campuses, employing and empowering hundreds of Smile Farmers. Their work generates purpose and pride, enhances life skills, and fosters socialization.
Smile Farmers grow and sell flowers, plants and produce to their local communities. They have supplied produce to celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio’s newest restaurant Small Batch, and will soon be featured on the menu at all of his restaurants on Long Island and in NYC! Smile Farms also recently launched a new program with Chef Tom’s restaurant group, Crafted Hospitality, in which people with disabilities are employed in their kitchens as polishers and kitchen prep.
Smile Farms is committed to giving back to the communities they serve by donating fresh produce to people in need. Most recently, they worked with Family Residences and Essential Enterprises (FREE) to deliver ‘FREEpods” to 300 home-bound individuals with disabilities and the elderly, composed of necessary medications, groceries, and Smile Farms’ produce.
The organization has its own hot sauce - Heat with Heart™ made with hot and sweet peppers grown by Smile Farmers working across several campus locations. Over 250 farmers derive valuable educational, vocational, and paid employment opportunities from this pepper project. In 2021, Smile Farmers harvested over 2,000 lbs. of peppers. They experienced the deep satisfaction of cultivating a wide variety of peppers from seed to shelf – turning the literal fruits of their labor into a marketable product. Smile Farmers also package and ship all hot sauce orders. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Heat with Heart™ fund jobs and training for individuals with disabilities.
In these ways and many more, Smile Farms is working to shape a better future, where people with disabilities are valued for the real contributions they make in their workplaces and communities.