On June 14, 2021, A Farm Less Ordinary (AFLO) held a ribbon cutting celebration for AFLO North, their new Lovettsville location in Loudoun County, VA. This was a momentous occasion for all, and the expansion of AFLO reaffirmed Red Wiggler’s and the Care Farming Network’s vision of helping others establish a Care Farm in their communities, so that there’s a Care Farm in every county across the nation.
Back in 2017, Maya Weschler and Greg Masucci, Co-Founders of AFLO, first consulted with Woody Woodroof (Red Wiggler's Executive Director and Founder) on how to start their own Care Farm for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. On her first visit to Red Wiggler, Maya recalls seeing Red Wiggler and all its many wheel hoes, thinking "Wow, this is a REAL farm." After some initial phone consultations and in person visits, Maya and Greg participated in Future Harvest CASA's mentorship program to be mentored formally by Red Wiggler. As part of this program, Maya and Greg learned from Woody the ins and outs of starting a non-profit Care Farm and also sat down and talked with Red Wiggler’s then Farm Manager, Andrea Barnhart, to discuss day-to-day field operations, planting schedules and dates, and how to track grower goals. As the years progressed, Maya and Greg continually relied on their connection with Red Wiggler staff to ask questions and guide their new farm operation. Today, much of the structure of AFLO is patterned after Red Wiggler’s terminology, operations, and vision.
Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis J. Randall kicked off AFLO North’s ribbon cutting ceremonies, and attendees also heard from Loudoun Supervisor Caleb Kershner and the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s President Tony Howard. (Credit: the below videos are from AFLO's Facebook page and posts.)
The ribbon cutting celebration also included a heartwarming speech by Greg, AFLO’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO). Greg spoke of the origins of AFLO. Greg and his wife, Maya Wechsler, worried about their son’s future and knew that someday in the future, they would not be there for him. It was heartbreaking for them to think that he would be spending all his time alone. It was because of this that they fulfilled their dream of creating a farm, home, and community for their very loveable, huggy, and squeezy son and others. (Credit: the below video is from AFLO's Facebook page and posts.)
Ian, one of AFLO’s longtime Growers, wrote and performed his song “Friends for Change” at the ribbon cutting event. Emma, one of AFLO’s Growers, also took a few minutes to say a few words about her experience. Emma thanked AFLO for giving her the opportunity to work there and to learn about growing plants. Some of her favorite things to do include planting seeds, picking off tomato suckers, and weeding. And Emma found working at the farmers market and being the cashier amazing and an absolute blast. AFLO was so proud of both Ian and Emma, as it is not easy to sing or to speak in front of a crowd. (Credit: the below videos are from AFLO's Facebook page and posts.)
Here are more photos from AFLO's ribbon cutting.
Red Wiggler and the Care Farming Network is proud to be a partner and resource to AFLO. We are so happy to be able to share our insights regarding growing as a nonprofit, breaking down and assigning farming tasks appropriately for Growers with disabilities, expectations while starting up a Care Farm, and more. We are thrilled AFLO is able to grow their dream and mission of providing employment and a welcoming community to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and we wish AFLO much success in all their endeavors!!