Our Story

 
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Our Name

Frank Community Farm is named in memory of twin brothers, Mathew and Tyler Frank and their father Keith Frank.

Mathew and Tyler were both neurodivergent. Their unique and beautiful spirits left a positive impact on everyone they met. Frank Community Farm strives to provide the kind of services that would have given both of these young men every opportunity they deserved to thrive and succeed in the workforce.

 

The Inspiration

Frank Community Farm was inspired by the desire to create a work environment that celebrates and values the differences of its workers, and that takes advantage of each individual worker’s strengths rather than discounting their abilities due to relative areas of weakness. Every person has areas of strength and areas of weakness, and our calling is to place each person in a position within the organization that will most allow them to demonstrate their strengths. In addition, we want to assist our workers in further developing a repertoire of skills that will help them continue their success in the workforce.

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The Vision

The vision for Frank Community Farm is a farm where individuals can work and have access to varying levels of job support as needed. Handicap-accessible facilities (e.g., the use of raised beds for agriculture) and the use of behavioral supports will allow workers to try jobs that may have been inaccessible to them in other settings. Individualized skills-acquisition training programs will allow them to excel in positions that they have not previously had the opportunities to learn. Job carving will ensure that each worker is placed in a position that best matches their talents and areas of interest. Areas of employment will include:

  • Planting and harvesting

  • Fulfilling product orders

  • Making deliveries

  • Selling at local farmers markets

  • Producing teas, planters, and other products that can be tailored to the strengths and talents of individual workers

  • Creating floral arrangements

  • Baking

  • And much more!

We believe in creating a work environment that is integrated into the surrounding area, so that our workers can be fully participating members of their communities. In doing so, we hope to encourage a society that celebrates neurodiversity.


Neurodiversity

NEURODIVERSITY - a social movement that encourages society to accept neurological disorders such as Autism and ADHD as a variation in functioning rather than a disability or a mental disorder that needs to be cured.

We believe that neurodiversity gives way to new ideas, helping businesses to take their success to the next level. By actively participating in the community and partnering with other local businesses, Frank Community Farm spreads education about the benefits of neurodiversity in the workforce.

Want to learn more? We would be happy to come out to your business and discuss ways you can support neurodiversity in the workforce. Email us: cstokes @frankcommunity.org.


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Internships

Frank Community Farm offers unpaid internship opportunities to adults who are looking to build their vocational skills. Throughout the course of an internship, the intern receives individualized training on various job tasks related to the work of the farm. In addition to learning specific job tasks, interns also receive training on the soft skills necessary to maintainlong-term employment.

Each internship begins with an assessment period. During the assessment period, with the support of farm staff, the intern tries a variety of job tasks at the farm. These tasks include gardening, making and painting cement planters, making tea products, and selling products at markets. As he or she completes each task, baseline data is collected on his or her capabilities related to the completion of the task. Baseline data is also collected on the intern’s skills related to communication, socialization, appropriate and safe behavior, attendance, punctuality, appropriate work attire and hygiene, etc. A preference assessment is conducted to determine which job tasks the intern most prefers. Once the assessment period is complete, the intern and the farm staff work together to determine the skill areas on which the intern’s continued training should focus. The intern then receives ongoing training in the skill areas that have been deemed necessary and appropriate. Internship periods vary in length depending upon the needs of each individual intern.

The purpose of an internship is for the intern to build a repertoire of skills that will allow him or her to successfully obtain and maintain long-term employment in the future. The progress of the intern is assessed regularly throughout his or her training. Predefined criteria are used to determine when an intern has mastered each targeted skill.

Once an intern is able to complete a set of job duties independently at the farm with only periodic support from staff, then he or she will have the opportunity to move into a paid position within the farm if desired. Some interns also choose to pursue employment outside of our organization. In this case, farm staff can provide support to the individual as he or she applies and interviews for various job positions. Other interns may not wish to pursue paid employment at this time. In this case, an intern will have the opportunity to move into a Lead Intern position at the farm, in which they can continue to work at the farm, building a repertoire of higher-level vocational skills. Lead Interns may take on responsibilities such as training and supporting other interns.

If you are interested in an internship at Frank Community Farm, please contact Crystal Stokes at 804-878-2233 or cstokes@frankcommunity.org


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Frank Community Farm

At Frank Community Farm we strive to grow the most nutrient dense, sustainable, and delicious food that we can. To achieve this, we focus on regenerative soil practices that grow and diversify the soils microbiology helping to create a balanced ecosystem. We use a no-till approach that helps to generate, feed, and sustain the organic matter in our soil. By only disturbing the soil minimally, quickly rotating our crop beds to always have them densely planted, and by adding plenty of organic matter from compost we are able to eliminate erosion and grow healthy soil that captures and holds carbon through nearly continuous photosynthesis.

Our soil health centered approach eliminates the need for using toxic fertilizers and pesticides by giving the plants the nutrients they need to combat pests. Frank Community Farm prides itself on educating and collaborating with the community about modern agricultural knowledge and practices. Our farm is an experiment in growing vegetables, Yaupon Tea and herbs for tea. We work hard to bring forth food in an eco-friendly manner.


Frank Community Cement

Our cement décor is hand mixed, poured and painted by the Frank Community Farm cement artisans.

We offer:

  • Planters

  • Storage Containers

  • Bowls

  • Ring Stands

  • Coasters

  • And more…

Email: cstokes@frankcommunity.org for special orders. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see where you can purchase our products locally.

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FRANK Communi-Tea

Yaupon is a native holly tree that grows wild in North America. Yaupon is most abundant in southeastern parts of the United States. Yaupon is the only known caffeinated plant in North America. Native Americans drank yaupon as a daily coffee and also used it for ceremonial uses.

Yaupon gives a jitter-free buzz and is full of antioxidants that are comparable to blueberries and green tea. Yaupon contains theobromine, which has been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect and has been known to lower blood pressure. It also boasts beneficial levels of ursolic acid, which is known to preserve and build skeletal mass, assist in stabilizing blood sugar, and promote mitochondria-rich brown fat for increased energy expenditure. Yaupon Tea is a beverage and is not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any medical conditions.

We forage for our yaupon off the coasts of Virginia Beach. in the wild, where the yaupon trees have been untouched by any chemicals or pesticides. We bring the leaves back to Richmond VA to clean and roast. Yaupon holly is a thriving invasive species. It provides a more local and sustainable source for caffeine that eliminates the reliance on imports, mono-cropping, and unethical labor practices required for the mass production of many popular coffees and teas. It’s a hardy evergreen that can be harvested year round.

Frank Community Farm offers:

  • Medium Roast, slightly roasted and is reminiscent of a green tea.

  • Dark roast, has a stronger, richer flavor similar to a black tea and is the most coffee-esque.

  • Peppermint Patty, dark roast, organic cacao nibs, and organic peppermint

  • Chai, dark roast, organic ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, cloves and black pepper

Future Planning:

Over the summer and fall, we will be cultivating a Yaupon tea garden at our farm. The Yaupon will take about 2 years to produce large enough leaves to use for roasting. During that time Frank Community Farm will continue to forage for wild yaupon locally using sustainable practices.

You can find our Yaupon Tea at On the Square Market and South of the James Market. We also participate in several seasonal markets around Richmond. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to find out where we will be. Our tea products are

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Tea Testimonials

“Substituting my normal morning black tea for Yaupon felt good and did the trick of waking me up.” ~ Dawn Thiselton

“The tea definitely gave me a caffeine buzz and I was more focused. I like that I don’t have to add anything to this tea. It’s so smooth and naturally sweet. I am so excited to have this in Richmond!" ~Tammy Donaldson

“I have borderline high blood pressure and I drank this tea for a few weeks. It lowered my bloodpressure significantly and I had increased physical and mental energy! I will be drinking Yaupon long term and I am so happy that we have a local tea here in Richmond!” ~Mike Thompson

“I love the taste of the dark roast. It’s smooth and sweet! I made a daily cold brew with it and took it with me on the go. Man! The increased energy and mental focus was there and it taste great too. Thanks for allowing me to try this. Richmond is going to love it!” ~ Melissa Dawson

“Frank Community Farms yaupon tea has replaced my daily coffee habit. I don’t get the crash I get from drinking coffee and I feel good all day. I’m sold!” ~ Phoebe Smith


STAFF AND INTERNS

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Crystal D. Stokes

President

Crystal completed her Bachelor's in Theatre and Business at Averett University in 2005. She spent two years performing in musical theatre, and then five years house managing at two large non-profit theatres in Washington DC. During this time, she gained experience in managing large numbers of staff and volunteers. Looking to become involved in the human services field, Crystal moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2010 to work as an instructional assistant at a local school for autism. She later went on to work as a support coordinator for a local waiver service provider, where she oversaw in-home residential and day support services. In 2014, she completed her Masters in Psychology at University of Phoenix. She currently works as a behavior coach for adults with autism and a therapeutic mentor for teen girls.

In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cooking, and making music. She has always dreamed of having a farm, and has worked tirelessly to build the foundation of Frank Community Farm. She is excited to bring a fresh approach to neurodiversity in the workforce.

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Adam Weatherford

Director of Agriculture

Adam Weatherford is a native born Virginian. His childhood was spent in the rural farmland of Pittsylvania county where he learned construction and farming practices from the family business. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating in 2004. Afterwards, he spent time traveling and working in New York City, Central America, and California. In San Francisco he found his passion working with the neurodiverse community as a job coach on an organic farm. There he worked with a master gardener to build a small farm that employed members of the local neurodiverse community, teaching them to produce organic food for area farmer’s markets.

Since returning to Virginia and settling with his family in Richmond, his passion for farming and building has continued. He has constructed numerous gardens in the Richmond community and beyond. Adam has a love for growing food and for growing confidence in those he teaches.

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Rachel Stokes, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA

Vice President of Training and Behavioral Support

Rachel completed her Bachelor’s Degree in African American Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2009, and her Master’s in Special Education at George Mason University in 2015. She also holds graduate certificates in Applied Behavior Analysis (George Mason University) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (Virginia Commonwealth University). Rachel obtained certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2016.

She has experience working as an ID service coordinator, as well as experience supervising ABA services and in-home residential waiver services. Rachel is passionate about creating a society that celebrates neurodiversity, and she is excited to help fulfill that mission in our local community.

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Jamie Miller

This bio was written by people who know Jamie well and was guided by interests he has expressed.

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"Spending time with my support staff at home."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"Talking to my friends, mowing grass and vegetable making deliveries."

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"I would like to focus on landscaping and make veggie box deliveries."

What new things have you learned during your internship?
"How to mow grass independently and how to plant starts."

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Michael Yacovone

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"I worked at Resource Realty Services before interning."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"The markets, meeting new people, seeing new places."

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"Farming."

What new things have you learned during your internship?
"Using a lawn mower and learning how to greet people."

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Eric Hammond

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"Before Frank Community Farm, I was attending an adult day services program for individuals with autism."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"At Frank Community Farm, I am most satisfied by harvesting our beautiful vegetables that we have grown. It is just so rewarding!"

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"I wish to honestly be involved with the administration department of the farm following my yearlong internship."

What new things have you learned during your internship?

"While in the program, I have learned many things, but I would especially love for you to know that I have learned how to interact with the customers efficiently and appropriately when at the farmers markets and other market events."

Update: Eric completed his internship with FCF and is now working in administration at The Fashion Center. We are so proud of him! Eric continues to volunteer his time at FCF in many capacities.

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Braden

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"I was volunteering at Diversity Thrift and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with my behavior coach. We also learned about recipes and many other things."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"I like painting pots, selling at the markets, and planting and weeding the gardens. I also like to harvest the gardens."

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"I would like to be a cement artisan and a farmer."

What new things have you learned during your internship?

"I have learned a lot about new skills, such as making cement pots and being careful when you paint them. I have also learned about how to put the seeds in the ground and how to take care of the plants, too. I have also learned how to be a good salesman and how to greet people. It is a lot of hard work but it also is very fun too."

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Brittani

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"Landscaping and working on my art portfolio, as well as occasionally selling my artwork at conventions."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"Working with others like me and getting to serve the community."

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"I would like to mainly focus on being a cement artisan and working in spa production. I can occasionally lend a hand with farming if understaffed on farming days. I'm not sure how good I'd be at administration but I would like to learn if it would help."

What new things have you learned during your internship?

"Learning to have more patience and understanding when working with others. I'm also learning about coping with sensory issues when dealing with the public. It can be a lot for me even if it doesn't seem like it, but I feel like I'm improving."

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Charlie

This bio was written by people who know Charlie well and was guided by interests he has expressed.

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"I was volunteering at Diversity Thrift one day every week. I worked with my behavior coach on how to do chores at home, make and eat new foods, and cook."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"I like working with Crystal in the farm, watering the plants, planting the seeds, and putting labels on the bath salts."

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"I would like to do farming and spa production."

What new things have you learned during your internship?

"I have learned to be quiet when I work with other people. I learned how to plant seeds and I learned how to help them grow."

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Josh

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"Volunteering with family on personal projects with the occasional community outreach."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"Being able to produce products that people will buy and even enjoy."

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"Farmer or spa production."

What new things have you learned during your internship?

"That you are always a valued contributor to any community that you serve, no matter the profession."


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Matt

What were you doing before interning at Frank Community Farm?

"Volunteering around Richmond, I found people to be mean and rude to me. I also volunteered in a kitchen and was enjoying it but without notice I was placed in a position stocking and wasn’t told why I couldn’t volunteer in the kitchen anymore. I hated it. I had several kitchen jobs that also didn’t work out because several companies were unwilling to be flexible with some of my needs."

What do you enjoy most about interning at FCF?

"Farming! I get to move around, work with my hands, and learn new things! I also like thinking of new ways of utilizing the produce in my cooking. I enjoy eating the food we grow. I love working at the markets. I love talking to our customers about the products we produce. My favorite market is the Brunch Market. I love the music, the customers, and those biscuits!!!!"

After your internship, which parts of the business would you like to become employed with?

"Farming and selling at the markets."

What new things have you learned during your internship?

"I have learned more natural and organic ways to grow food. I have learned patience through farming and how to be patient and understanding with the other interns! We are a great team!"


BOARD + COMMITTEES

Board:

Crystal Stokes, President

Patrick Dodson, Co-Chair

Taylor Harrison, Secretary

Robert Maino,  Board Member

Rachel Stokes, Treasurer

 

Intern Committee:

Rachel Stokes

Eric Hamond

Brittani Saddler

Robert Maino

Garden Committee:

Adam Weatherford

Crystal Stokes

Patrick Dodson

Stephen Ward

 

Media Committee:

Taylor Harrison

Sarah Butler

Leigh Rossi

Crystal Stokes

COMMUNITY SUPPORTERS

Perk BonAir

Love This RVA

Gather Home and Garden

Burn Down For What

Orange RVA

Milk River Arts

Compost RVA

Owenby Organics

Richmond House

Commonwealth Autism

Hummingbird Gardens

Strawberry Fields Flowers and Finds


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VOLUNTEer opportunities

Farming - Helps maintain the health of the soil, starts seeds, plants seeds and starts, monitors pest, helps manage compost and other garden duties as needed. Farm volunteers will work alongside our interns but will not work with them directly. (Hours: Mon-Fri, 9:00am-1:00pm)

Cement Artisans - Assists with designing and painting planters and other cement pieces. (Hours: Tues and Thurs, 9:00am-12:30pm)

Market Volunteer - Assists the interns and staff with setup and break down of market materials, be available to answer questions if needed, responsible for assigning breaks and assisting with money management. This volunteer opportunity will require training and a background check. (Hours: Vary)

Intern Support Committee - Assists with ensuring that we provide a high level of support to our interns so that they are successful in our program. Ideal candidates for this position should have a background in special education, case management, OT, Applied Behavioral Analysis or job coaching. (Meets Quarterly)

Advisory Board - Provides advice and support to the FCF governing board. (Meets Bi-Annually)

FCF Mission Ambassadors - Do you believe in our mission? Have you worked/volunteered with us? We are a small group and unfortunately we can’t be everywhere, and we need you to help spread the word about FCF! Mission Ambassadors can use their social media platforms to help FCF gain more supporters, may choose to attend networking events on our behalf, or blog about us. Local businesses can become mission ambassadors by simply selling our products in their stores.

If you are interested in volunteering or you want to learn more, please contact cstokes@frankcommunity.org.