The natural foods industry is known for giving back. But it’s rare that a store exists primarily to support community services. York, Pennsylvania-based Leg Up Farmers Market is such a place. Founded to support programs and facilities for special needs children and adults, the market and its community outreach are inextricably linked. Here’s how:
Serving children. Leg Up Farm opened in April 2010, and it’s the only facility in the U.S. to offer this particular combination of services for children with special needs under one roof: physical, occupational, speech and aquatic therapy; behavioral health services; therapeutic horseback riding; nutrition services; and on-site classroom and recreational spaces. The grounds feature walking paths, horses and ponies, a music garden, a games garden and a pond. Leg Up Farm serves between 400 and 500 children at any given time and relies on as many as 300 active volunteers.
Serving adults. Soon after Leg Up Farm opened, the need for services beyond the educational setting was realized, and Able-Services, an adult training program, was born. Able-Services boasts a kitchen and greenhouse space, enabling participants to learn how to grow and cook food. Whatever they grow, they take home to their families or donate to local food banks to pay it forward.
Serving the community. Leg Up Farmers Market was founded to support these efforts financially, as well as to provide the community with the fresh and healthy food, which wasn’t common for York County. “People ask, ‘Why a grocery store?’” says Jen Hitz, development director at Leg Up Farm. “The truth is that a lot of our kiddos and adults here are impacted by strict diets and need clean and natural foods. We wanted to diversify our financial support, but we wanted to do so in a way that meets the needs of our families and clients. Our community didn’t have access to this kind of food, and they needed it.”
The other Retailer of the Year Best Community Project finalists are:
Winners will be announced at Natural Products Expo East 2017.