The idea for Second Chances Farm grew out of serendipity and vision, but mostly from connections with people and shared ideas. Conception began in 2016 from two separate TEDx Talks given at the 5th Annual TEDxWilmington Conference in Wilmington, Delaware, of which our Founder was also the Organizer.
After a compelling talk about re-entry and recidivism by an ex-offender and former re-entry specialist for the U.S. Department of Justice, and a separate, but equally innovative talk about farming of the future, our Founder, Ajit Mathew George, began to connect the dots. Can we find a way to fight the recidivism epidemic facing this nation while simultaneously addressing other serious issues like pollution, climate change, unemployment, quality of produce, and food deserts? We think so.
These are some of the change-makers who inspired us:
July 17th, 2019
Mayor Mike Purzycki signs into law a new zoning ordinance that allows commercial indoor horticulture, allowing SCF to legally grow produce within city limits. The Mayor was also kind enough to harvest our first crop of lettuce with a pair of golden scissors.
July 1st, 2019
The first test module is installed at the Second Chances Farm office to showcase the possibilities of vertical hydroponics. Approximately 200 plants each of Green Leaf Lettuce and Genovese Basil are transplanted into the four-level growing module.
June 11th, 2019
SCF is approved for a license to commercially grow hemp by the DE Dept. of Agriculture. Hemp is not the main focus of Second Chances, but allows for an additional avenue of revenue and the ability to stay current in today’s agricultural marketplace.
May 10th, 2019
Exactly two years after announcing the idea, Ajit George kicks off the formal campaign to raise capital for Second Chances Farm at his birthday party at Chirst Church Christiana Hundred in Greenville, Delaware. This same night final operating agreement is signed and executed by all three founding members: Ajit George, Jon Brilliant, and Evan Bartle.
May 7th, 2019
Second Chances Farm collectively signs a letter of intent with the owners of the former Opportunity Center at 3030 Bowers Street in Northeast Wilmington to purchase a 50,000sqft warehouse/office building to be used as Second Chances Farm #1.
May 1st, 2019
The Federal Register finally publishes the proposed regulations for the “Opportunity Zones” section in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, allowing Second Chances Farm to move forward with the purchasing of a building and creation of Farm #1 in an Opportunity Zone.
January 13th, 2019
Second Chances Farm brings Jon Brilliant on board as a Managing Member and Chief Financial Officer. Jon has decades of experience in start-ups and finance as an entrepreneur, and holds a law degree from Duke University. Additionally, he runs his own financial investment group, Atelier. Jon is a laser-focused, business savvy go-getter who is smart as a whip. Second Chances is lucky to have him on board.
December 5th, 2018
Coincidentally on the same day, Second Chances Farm is awarded a $175,000 grant from the Welfare Foundation and Ajit George attends the “Reinventing Delaware” pitch competition where he wins the top idea for his table AND the top overall idea of the night out of 100 other business concepts pitched.
November 14th, 2018
Charles O’Neill, a former inmate at James T. Vaughn Correctional, attends a seminar at the University of Delaware where he coincidentally meets the Dean of the Department of Agriculture, Mark Rieger who refers him to us to become Agripreneur #1. Charles spent much of his time in prison researching hydroponics and writing in the prison newspaper.
October 23rd, 2018
Second Chances Farm applies for Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation’s “Reinventing Delaware” award for business ideas that have the ability to make Delaware a better place to live, work, and raise a family.
October 15th, 2018
A grant application is submitted to Welfare Foundation, the second largest foundation in Delaware, for initial funding of Second Chances Farm #1 in Wilmington Delaware.
August 7th, 2018
Indoor agriculture consultant, professor, and founder of e3 Gardens, Eric Stein, joins Second Chances Farm as a consultant. Eric runs a small hydroponic farm in Media, Pennsylvania and is the author of a feasibility study done for Kennett Township to build an Indoor Agriculture Center for Excellence.
July 24th, 2019
Patricia May joins the SCF team. Although recently retired from government work, Patricia had spent 40 years working within corrections and re-entry, and even developed and implemented the My Brother’s Keeper Program within the prison. She immediately became a valuable member of the Second Chances team as the Restorative Justice Program Coordinator where she will handle all programming related to re-entry, therapy, and other employee related issues.
July 17th, 2018
Second Chances amended its certificate of incorporation to become a “Series LLC,” allowing the creation of multiple farms operating under one entity. The vision of Second Chances Farm is to create vertical farms throughout the United States, providing local food nationwide and providing opportunities for the underserved.
July 1st, 2018
After fulfilling his “year of service” as a Public Ally, working with TEDxWilmington and Second Chances Farm, Evan Bartle comes on board to work with Second Chances Farm full-time as Chief Growing Officer in order to get the farm up and running.
Many months were spent researching vertical farming, finding Opportunity Zone properties, and visiting potential farm locations within Wilmington, Delaware.
December 22nd, 2017
Donald J. Trump signs in to law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that introduces the new concept of “Opportunity Zones.” This new law allows tax benefits and exemption for investments in designated economically depressed areas, with the intention of stimulating economic growth and job creation in low-income census tracts.
September 5th, 2017
Ajit George hires a Public Ally (a program run by Americorps to place young professionals at various organizations for a “year of service”), Evan Bartle, to help in producing for TEDxWilmington and work towards officially launching Second Chances Farm.
July 6th, 2017
Delaware Secretary of Agriculture and former Acting United States Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Scuse, meets with Ajit George and friends to discuss the future of vertical farming and its possibilities in the state of Delaware.
May 10th, 2017
At his 63rd birthday party, Ajit George announces - to 63 close friends and family in attendance - his plans to create 70 capitalists by the age of 70, focusing on men and women returning from prison with the opportunity being vertical farms. A capitalist being someone who is self-sufficient.
April 24th, 2017
Second Chances Farm is officially registered as an LLC company in the state of Delaware by Founder, Ajit Mathew George.
March 13th, 2017
Ajit is invited back to San Quentin Maximum Security Prison to meet with the Beverly and Chris Parenti to review what they had learned from installing The Last Mile program at San Quentin, a program that teaches computer programming to inmates with a very high success and placement rate.
August 24th, 2016
Two speakers take the stage at Ajit’s Annual TEDxWilmington Conference that create a lightbulb moment and seal the fate of Second Chances Farm. One was Saad Soliman who spent 15 years in prison, built a successful business upon his release, and became the first felon to ever be hired by the U.S. Department of Justice. The other was Jack Griffin, a man who spoke about indoor, vertical farming and its ability to change the organic produce and agriculture industries.
July 31st, 2015
Ajit George is invited to attend TEDxSanQuentin inside the California maximum security prison where he hears inmate, Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll talk about what is possible when felons are given opportunities.
July 31st, 2015
Ajit organizes a TEDxWilmington event inside Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in Delaware on the topic of Second Chances and Redemption, featuring six inmates and six other individuals. Jill Biden was in attendance and Amanda Lemon, who helped to prepare the dinner for Breaking Bread Behind Bars is one of the speakers.
May 14th, 2015
In memory of Chef, Matt Haley, Ajit George helps to organize and host Breaking Bread Behind Bars, an elegant farm-to-table meal inside Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution. Ajit George and Senator Chris Coons were able to raise the $20,000 to fund a greenhouse inside the prison.
A decision was made by the MidAtlantic Wine + Food leadership team to honor Matt Haley by moving forward with the proposed prison event and holding it in his honor.
August 6th, 2014
Matt Haley gives a TEDx talk about his journeys through prison, addiction, travel, and food at the Annual Conference of TEDxWilmington.
One week after his TEDx talk, Matt Haley is tragically killed in a motorcycle accident while traveling through India and Nepal.
June 4th, 2014
Second Chances founder, Ajit George, is approached by renowned Delaware chef, Matt Haley to help organize a gourmet dinner event inside a prison in Delaware. Matt arranges a meeting with Department of Corrections Leadership team, including Commissioner Rob Coupe, to discuss the logistics of a dinner event inside a Delaware prison.
May 18th, 2014
Matt Haley hosts a dinner as part of the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, of which Ajit George was the founder.
May 5th, 2014
Renowned chef, Matt Haley, becomes the first Delawarean to win the national James Beard Award.