Adapt and Go with the Flow
While working with teen boys in the juvenile court system in northern California, John Gordon Jr knew that young people were more capable of achievements than expected.
When one youth was assigned to a farming family, John made a discovery. “He enjoyed caring for animals and a garden. It gave him something to take pride in.” There was a connection between agriculture, caring for something and business opportunities that was missing for these boys.
When a family illness returned him home to Kansas City, Missouri, John used this transition time to implement his idea. In 2010, he founded Boys Grow, a year round farming and business program supporting urban boys aged 14 to 16.
With only two acres of rented farmland, he held his first orientation meeting. “I had a crystal clear plan on paper, but things never go as planned. For instance, teens and weather are unpredictable.”
He learned fast to adapt, when to give others a voice and when to be stringent. “Those early years were difficult,” says John. “We had no delivery truck, no refrigeration and no electricity. It was an uphill climb in so many ways, yet perseverance kept us going.”
With help from the Kauffman FastTrac program, Google research and the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City, John has graduated over 50 boys from their 2-year program. Since then, they have acquired 10-acres of permanent farmland, two dozen chickens, 10 goats and a pig they call Uncle Bruno.
“It’s very satisfying to watch the boys interact with the public and to gain confidence.” Additional highlights include seeing their produce and products appearing in local restaurants and some graduates returning as junior staff members.
John wishes to thank his community for supporting and buying local. “It’s a positive change for all to support small business, our young men and non-profit organizations. We appreciate everyone’s support.”
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Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus, Missouri and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.