Navarro Farm in Frankfort hires special needs individuals, teaches them about agriculture
FRANKFORT, Ill. - A south suburban family found if you build it, they will come.
To provide a future for their son with special needs, the family created a one-of-a-kind opportunity that has drawn others from across the area.
Navarro Farm is constantly buzzing with activity. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Carter's farmstand is open for business.
The farmers sell fresh vegetables that they've worked so hard to grow.
"I feel happy because it feels like home here," said farmer Nick Lorenz.
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Two-hundred adults with intellectual disabilities volunteer on the farm.
"I’ve learned how to take care of animals, I've learned how to garden, I've learned all sorts of things," said farmer Nathan Zimbrich.
Vendors sell the farm's honey and other special treats.
"He's also giving us an opportunity to sell our own products so we can learn how to be great business owners one day," said vendor Zinyra Ross.
Damion and Sherri Navarro founded the farm a year ago, hoping to put down roots for their son, Carter.
"It's really steamrolled into something bigger than we ever imagined, but every time we focus on people's needs instead of our wants, everything grows and that's why this is a place to grow," said Damion.
And boy has it grown! It is the largest raised bed garden in Illinois, home to the first 4-H Special Needs Chapter in Illinois — with big plans to expand.
"In the next few years, we plan on purchasing all the land back there and making inclusive housing for individuals with special needs and this will be a place where they can work," Damion said.
It has given the Navarro’s and hundreds of other families a home-grown hope for the future.
"That is our focus, thinking about what we can do for him, for others like him and just giving everyone peace of mind," said Sherri.
The farm sells what they grow for only a donation. It is open Monday through Friday, with the farm stand in business on Wednesdays and Saturdays.