img 904-357-0880
img info@jessicagreenfoundation.org
img Jacksonville, Florida 32259
News & Events
31st May

2008

In The Farm, Inc.
Charlie Patton

Jessica Green loved The Farm.

Even though The Farm she knew was nothing more than a dream and an undeveloped 2-acre piece of land in a semi-rural part of Mandarin, the place was special to her, said her mother, Helen Green.

She would go there and stand by the fence and call softly to a neighbor’s old horse. The horse, which wouldn’t have anything to do with anyone else, would come to the fence to be pet and kissed by Jessica.

“When she went out there, she felt a peace,” Helen Green said. “She was excited about being part of it.”

The Farm was born in the imagination of Marie and Ricardo Quinones, whose 14-year-old daughter, Raquel, is autistic, as was Jessica.

Marie Quinones and Helen Green met and became friends through their involvement in the Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

They shared a desire to create programs that would help people with autism spectrum disorders create support networks to help them adjust to life in a world that doesn’t understand them.

Autism is a developmental disorder marked by impaired social interaction and communication and restricted activities and interests. It can have varying degrees of effect on a person.

It afflicts as many as one in 150 children, more commonly boys, according to CARD.

As Marie Quinones talked about her plans for The Farm, Helen Green envisioned a kind of sanctuary, “a safe haven” where people with autism and their families could escape the stress and sensory overload of their daily lives.

Jessica, she said, often talked about how eager she was for the project to come together.

But Dec. 19, Jessica unexpectedly died in her sleep at age 27 following a seizure, one of the complications of her disorder.

For most of her life, Jessica had been an enthusiastic bike rider. She told her mother she loved the feeling of being “in control” when she was riding and loved be able to work out her frustrations on a long ride.

“To say she rode a lot might be an understatement,” said Charlie Fetzer, a co-owner of Lake Shore Bicycles & Fitness, where Jessica was a regular visitor.

Fetzer said he was already thinking about organizing a Memorial Day ride on the Baldwin Rail Trail before he learned of Jessica’s death.

Now Ride with Me, which Fetzer hopes can become an annual event, will be held Monday in Jessica’s memory.

Proceeds will go to benefit In the Farm, a nonprofit foundation the Quinoneses have formed.

The Quinoneses have built a stable on the property where a horse and a goat, both rescue animals, now live. Raquel Quinones now spends part of each evening feeding the animals and cleaning the stalls, jobs that she loves doing, her mom said.

This summer, the Quinoneses plan to build two more structures. One will be a home where they will live with Raquel and her 3-year-old brother, Angelo, who has cerebral palsy.

The other building can be a guest house for families and can also serve as a center for some of the programs they envision starting.

They will use their own money to pay for the construction, Ricardo Quinones said.

They hope money raised through the nonprofit In the Farm will help pay for some of the programs they envision.

There is already a spot set aside for a “healing garden,” where people can learn about growing flowers, fruits and vegetables “in a soothing, structured setting,” Marie Quinones said. In time, it could even become a micro-business, selling organically raised fruits, vegetables and flowers, her husband added.

“We want to build communities,” Marie Quinones said. “This is a place where we can establish some relationships.”

“You’ve got to dream big,” said Ricardo Quinones, a professional architect. “My wife dreams really big. Then I try to bring her back to reality.”

charlie.patton@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4413

Share This :