When Second Chances Farm launched in early 2020, there were no plans to sell directly to consumers.
The indoor vertical hydroponic farm located in the Riverside neighborhood of Wilmington has a mission to employ citizens returning home after incarceration. At its start, it aimed to serve restaurants and other commercial clients exclusively — and by March 2020, it had built up a cadre of commercial clientele ready to start receiving deliveries of greens and herbs.
Before even one restaurant could be served, the COVID-19 lockdown happened. The farm was left with cancelled orders and a lot of produce.
“I never thought I would live to see a day where every restaurant in the state of Delaware and Philadelphia would be closed,” Second Chances Farm founder Ajit George said at the time.
So, it pivoted. The resulting farm-to-table packages have become a main feature of its business model, second only to its returning citizens hiring program. The startup also launched a sponsor-supported CSA program that provides produce to schools, churches and families, including those connected with EastSide Charter, a majority low-income school located across the street from the farm in Riverside.
Another pandemic pivot followed the inauguration of President Joe Biden, bringing a new consumer product from Second Chances: limited-edition spice blends made with their own herbs, organic garlic and spices. The first blends pay tribute to Delaware’s own Biden and his VP, Kamala Harris.
The Biden-inspired “No Malarkey Spice Blend” is a savory salt-free seasoning, while the Harris-inspired “Fearless Fusion Spice Blend” combine Indian and Jamaican flavors. They come as a set of 2.3 ounce tins. Only 2,021 (get it?) sets of the hand-blended seasonings will be sold (snd as of this writing, they are still available).
As a companion to the spice blends, Second Chances Farm has curated an e-cookbook featuring 23 recipes from chefs with connections to Delaware and the greater region, including local celeb Robbie Jester of The Stone Balloon and Full Circle Food, Rob DeGroat of Stitch House Brewery, Krupa Johnson of Everyday Agenda, Alrick Mitchell of Chelsea Tavern, Susan Teiser of Centreville Café and Tamara Earl of Delectablez, as well as Kobe Wallace, a senior studying culinary art at Howard High School of Technology. The recipes, most of which incorporate either No Malarkey or Fearless Fusion, range from sandwiches to a fresh vegan curry to more complex dishes. The cookbook PDF can be downloaded on the order page.
More recently, Second Chances Farm held a virtual field trip to the farm via Zoom for EastSide Charter elementary-grade students and has begun exploring partnership possibilities with other vertical farms in Pennsylvania and Alabama.-30-