For Immediate Release:
June 28, 2019
Chief of Communications
Deputy Chief of Communications
Individuals with Disabilities Sell Their Produce at
First Blue Umbrella Farmer’s Market
Clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities from the Department of Human Services (DHS) five Human Development Centers (HDC) took part in the first-ever Blue Umbrella Farmer's Market today. They set up booths outside the DHS central office in Little Rock to sell produce they grew and harvested.
“We want to give our clients employment opportunities that promote independence, and these farmer’s markets are a great way to support them,” said Melissa Stone, Director of the DHS Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS). “They made or grew everything for sale here today, and when people buy these products, our clients are paid for their hard work.”
Residents from the state’s five HDCs tend on-site gardens and learn important skills such as preparing soil, planting seeds, and tending the gardens until they harvest the produce. Some centers then process what they’ve grown and sell canned goods in the store year-round.
“It feels really great. I enjoyed it a lot,” says Caleb Ross, HDC resident. “I like it when people come to see what we’ve grown and buy it.”
Today’s farmer’s market was hosted by the Blue Umbrella, a unique gift shop open year-around inside the main DHS building. The shop offers supportive employment opportunities for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities. It is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and sells items made by clients with the proceeds given to the individuals who made the items.
The Blue Umbrella plans to host two more Farmer's Markets later this summer. For more information on the store and future events, visit www.blueumbrellaar.org.
Residents and staff from the five DHS Human Development Centers sell produce and handmade items at the first-ever Blue Umbrella Farmer’s Market outside DHS central office on June 28, 2019.