Moving America Forward

This Urban Farm Has a Very Unusual Key to Success

December 21, 2013
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This Urban Farm Has a Very Unusual Key to Success
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Aquaponics and good jobs for autistic adults.

Urban hydroponic farming can grow produce with less space and water than traditional methods and no soil at all. But these farms are fussy and complicated–if you mess up the chemistry, you can kiss a whole crop good bye overnight. That’s why Jan Pilarski created Green Bridge Growers. Her son Chris, who has a degree in chemistry and environmental studies but also has autism, is an ideal candidate for managing such a complex system. People with autism have a 90 percent unemployment rate, but Pilarski saw an entrepreneurial solution to Chris’ challenges. Many people with autism, like Chris, excel at work that involves minute attention to detail, precise timing, and constant monitoring–the exact skills you’d want for running a successful aquaponics farm. With the farm’s Indiegogo campaign exceeding its initial $15,000 goal to build a commercial-size facility, Pilarski hopes to hire four more workers for the project.

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