The CEO of Leg Up Farm has regularly announced new plans for the therapy center in Mount Wolf.
Louie Castriota said his favorite ideas are those that prove to be a win-win for the entire community.
He says his latest announcement does just that and might also act as a salve for local residents disappointed that grocery chains Wegmans, Whole Foods and Trader Joes don't plan to open a store in York County.
"Everything they like about those places, we can offer here," Castriota said.
Design plans are underway, and the new Leg Up Farmers Market will open in October 2015, he said.
"We expect to get the first shovel in the ground in February," Castriota said.
What's planned: The 20,000-square-foot, full-service grocery store will sell all-natural foods, including local produce, an artisan cheese selection, local beef, freshly baked bread, brick-oven pizza, self-service ground peanut butter, prepared food, fresh seafood, an all-organic salad bar and more.
"We will have the best of what natural food retailers have to offer," he said.
The grocery store will create 30 new jobs, and hiring is expected to begin early next year.
Wagman Construction Inc. is the contractor for the $4.4 million project, which is funded by a Metro Bank loan for $3 million, a Community First Fund loan for $275,000 and local investors.
The farmers market will be built at the former Shiloh Nurseries site at 3100 N. George St. in Manchester Township. Using grant money, Leg Up Farm purchased the site in April for $900,000 and is also establishing a vocational center there for adults with disabilities.
"It was one of the most beautiful sites in York County, and we're going to bring it back to its former glory. It's going to be a beautiful place for people to experience healthy food options. We're not only going to feed a person's body, we're also going to feed a person's soul," Castriota said.
Helping the kids: That's especially true for the children with disabilities receiving therapy at Leg Up Farm, he said.
"It's so critical for the kids we serve to have healthy food options. When their bodies function better, our support works even better," Castriota said.
Because some students have celiac disease and require a gluten-free diet, the market will have a large gluten-free section, he said.
"For anyone who shops here, they will know a portion of all proceeds will support special needs. But we're also looking at it from a community standpoint, where anyone can shop here and get good, healthy, natural food," Castriota said.
Though the Leg Up Farmers Market is expected to be profitable, he said he's not sure the therapy center could ever be completely funded by the market.
Most of Leg Up Farm's funding comes from grants, contributions, and state and federal loan programs. About 97 percent of the nonprofit's funding comes from outside of York County, Castriota said.
Other programs: The money has paid for classrooms, a wellness center, therapy gym, an accessible playground, therapy pool, horse stables, therapy gardens and a koi pond.
"The market will support operations, but really it will drive all kinds of other neat programs," he said.
It will serve as a catalyst and drive collaborations for adults with special needs.
While Leg Up Farm mainly serves those 21 years old and younger, the market will provide opportunities for adults with special needs.
A vocational program at the therapy center will teach adults about organic farming and could lead to employment either as a grower or as an employee in the store.
"We're wrapping therapy around something they really enjoy and it doesn't feel like work. They're engaged and excited," Castriota said. "They're working with us to create a culture and experience of caring for people in our community."
— Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.