Long Island farm employs special-needs adults

- A farm on Long Island is giving adults with developmental disabilities a chance to contribute to their community.

Jim McCann, the founder of 1-800-FLOWERS, started Smile Farms three years ago to provide meaningful work opportunities to disabled adults, including his brother Kevin.

Findings reveal that 80 percent of adults in the U.S. with a developmental disability are unemployed. McCann is on a mission to change that.

Smile Farms on Wednesday officially opened its fifth location. It's a day habilitation center with a garden and greenhouse that will provide a paying job to 12 adults with special needs.

This one is on the grounds of a more than 200-acre farm, managed by Cornell Cooperative Extension, located in Yaphank in Suffolk County.

Plants, flowers and herbs are sold in the community. The money made goes back into the organization.

"We find far too often that our most challenged population is the underserved population," said Vito Minei, the executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Smile Farms plans to bring on 12 more employees at this location later this season.

The job means more than just a paycheck. It gives the men and women a purpose.

"They're productive and making a big impact on their family because they're not sitting around anymore," McCann said. "They're making a difference."

They are making a difference by not just growing plants but also growing people.

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