A tall rack of nutrient-rich microgreens blooms behind the store’s counter, and a bounty of soaps and bath bombs shine on the shelves.
Berkeley residents, Kelly Lyons and Kerry Bacsik, planted the microgreens and crafted the cosmetics, but soon they will have extra helping hands.
The store serves as a pre-vocational training center for adults with special needs for them to learn hands-on tasks, like money handling, communication skills, and how to follow recipes to make the store’s products.
As part of a state program, Lyons and Bacsik will teach participants other employable skills, such as how to format a resume, prepare for interviews and dress for work.
“We started making all these products and we’ve been working tirelessly the last two months to fill the store,” said Bacsik. “Now the participants will be able to come in and they’ll learn theory in the morning, and then they’ll be doing hands-on stuff like making things and helping us grow the microgreens.”
The opportunity is available to high school graduates who are enrolled in the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities program. Bacsik said the program is still accepting participants.
Bacsik and Lyons’ nephew Joey inspired them to start their own program, which they call Joey’s Quest, as a way to provide special needs adults with more opportunities to learn life skills.
“We thought about his future and how would he learn valuable work skills,” Bacsik said, adding that there are limited opportunities available to him at the moment.
While they each have a background in case management, Bacsik also has experience in cosmetology education and Lyons has a passion for health from her career in nursing, which is how they arrived at selling both cosmetics and microgreens.
The leafy, nutrient-rich microgreens are planted in organic soil and have flavors like sweet pea, radish and sunflower that pair well with sandwiches, salads and smoothies, according to Lyons. More information about microgreens and recipe ideas can be found on their website.
The Microgreen Market held a grand opening on June 1 for people to visit the store and learn about the program.
As more private pre-vocational training centers like the Microgreen Market open, special needs adults will have more of a choice when they pursue post-graduate opportunities.
“A lot of families were looking for something different because there’s not a lot of stuff in this area,” Bacsik said. “New providers are opening up all the time, which is great because it gives them more opportunity.”
The Microgreen Market may expand into a larger facility and become a nonprofit in the near future.
The store is located at 800 Atlantic City Blvd in Suite 5 next to Shady Rest Restaurant. Store hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
The Microgreen Market also frequents several local farmers markets each week, including Brick, Point Pleasant, Bayville, Seaside Park, Toms River and Lacey.
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