The Second Chances Story

 
 
Matt Haley & Dr. Sarah E. Brown at National James Beard Awards

Matt Haley & Dr. Sarah E. Brown at National James Beard Awards

May 5th, 2014

Renowned chef, Matt Haley, becomes the first Delawarean to win the national James Beard Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the culinary industry. Matt was the owner of of multiple restaurants throughout Delaware and served time in prison himself, before working his way up from washing dishes at a restaurant.


May 18th, 2014

Matt Haley hosts a dinner as part of the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, of which Ajit George was the founder. 

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Ajit George (2nd from left) & Matt Haley (2nd from right)

Ajit George (2nd from left) & Matt Haley (2nd from right)

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.

June 30th, 2014

Matt Haley 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.


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August 6th, 2014

Matt Haley gives a TEDx talk about his journeys through prison, addiction, travel, and food at the Annual Conference of TEDxWilmington, for which Ajit Goerge is the Organizer.

August 19th, 2014

One week after his TEDx talk, Matt Haley is tragically killed in a motorcycle accident while traveling through India and Nepal.


Matt Haley & Douglas Ruley

Matt Haley & Douglas Ruley

January 2015

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. 


Ajit George, Senator Chris Coons, & Commissioner Rob Coupe

Ajit George, Senator Chris Coons, & Commissioner Rob Coupe

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. A five-course, gourmet meal is prepared by a collaboration between Matt Haley’s staff and the prison’s culinary program. 

During the dinner, Prison Warden Wendy Caple expressed her interest in building a greenhouse for the inmates to supply food for their culinary program. Ajit George and Senator Chris Coons were able to raise the $20,000 needed, on the spot, from the guests in attendance. 


Jill Biden, Amanda Lemon, & Dr. Sarah E. Brown

Jill Biden, Amanda Lemon, & Dr. Sarah E. Brown

July 31st, 2015

Ajit organizes a TEDxWilmingtonSalon 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. 


Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll speaking at TEDxSanQuentin

Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll speaking at TEDxSanQuentin

July 31st, 2015

Ajit organizes a TEDxWilmingtonSalon inside Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution 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. 


Saad Soliman speaking at TEDxWilmington Annual Conference 2016

Saad Soliman speaking at TEDxWilmington Annual Conference 2016

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. It was these two converging ideas that sprouted the concept of Second Chances Farm for the first time. 


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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. 


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April 24th, 2017

After inspiration from so many great people and ideas over the last three years, Second Chances Farm is officially registered as an LLC company in the state of Delaware by Founder, Ajit Mathew George. 


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. A capitalist being someone who is self-sufficient. He was going to do this by hiring returning citizens to work on an indoor, vertical farm, become “Agripreneurs,” and hopefully run indoor farms of their own eventually.  


Rick Farrell & Secretary Michael Scuse

Rick Farrell & Secretary Michael Scuse

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.


Evan Bartle (Chief Growing Officer) & Ajit George (Founder)

Evan Bartle (Chief Growing Officer) & Ajit George (Founder)

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. 


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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. 


January-June, 2018

Many months were spent researching vertical farming, finding Opportunity Zone properties, and visiting potential farm locations within Wilmington, Delaware Opportunity Zones. 


Evan Bartle (Chief Growing Officer)

Evan Bartle (Chief Growing Officer)

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. 


“Series LLC” Corporate Structure

“Series LLC” Corporate Structure

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.


Patricia May (Restorative Justice Program Coordinator) & Evan Bartle (Chief Growing Officer)

Patricia May (Restorative Justice Program Coordinator) & Evan Bartle (Chief Growing Officer)

July 24th, 2019

The founding members of Second Chances Farm have lunch with Patricia May, a former employee of the Department of Correction. After a long and passionate discussion about the concept of Second Chances, Patricia became enamored with the idea and was asked to join the team on the spot. 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.


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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.


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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.


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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. 


Charles O’Neill working on his personal hydroponic garden at home

Charles O’Neill working on his personal hydroponic garden at home

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. Having recently met with Second Chances Farm to see how the University could be involved, Dean Rieger connects Charles with Second Chances Farm and suggests reaching out. After a phone call to Founder, Ajit George, Charles asks to join the Second Chances Farm team and is officially dubbed “Farmer #1.” Charles had spent much of his time in prison researching hydroponic agriculture and writing about it in the prison newspaper.


Left to Right: Michael Houghton, Thére du Pont, Ajit George, & Ben du Pont

Left to Right: Michael Houghton, Thére du Pont, Ajit George, & Ben du Pont

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. The Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation awards Second Chances Farm with a year of business development help from Social Contract.


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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.


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.

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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.


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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.


June 11th, 2019

Second Chances Farm is approved for a License to commercially grow hemp by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.


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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.