Teen's greenhouse business to see major expansion
St. John Valley Times - 8/14/2017
ST. JOHN, Maine - "There's a big business coming," said 15-year-old Adam Jandreau of St. John. The teen's optimism is not without merit.
Jandreau, who has autism, owns and operates Adam's Lunch Box and Greenhouse from the near acre of land he lives on with his parents, Lisa and Jeff Jandreau. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development recently awarded a $50,000 micro-enterprise grant to the business, which sells fresh vegetables and eggs. The Jandreaus plan to add a new building with a greenhouse extension to the business with the grant money. Workers with Mountain View Structures, an Amish operated business based out of Hodgdon, will build the shell of the new 23-foot-by-25-foot building which will include a shop, kitchen, office and bathroom.
The building will go over the foundation of an old house that was on the Jandreaus' property until they paid to have it removed with money they saved.
Lisa works as an activities assistant and housekeeper at Northern Maine General in Eagle Lake, while Jeff is a self-employed carpenter. Jeff and Adam will work together to finish the interior of the new structure.
Lisa said she is hoping the business, which eventually will include sales of home baked goods and other local treats from the new shop, will eventually allow her to stay home with Adam, who is her youngest of four-children.
More importantly, she hopes the business will allow Adam to be self-sufficient once he reaches adulthood. She half home-schools her son. "He loves home so we're kind of home a lot," she said.
'When I go into the school building, I kind of feel lost," Adam said.
Operating his own home business has benefited Adam's skillset according to Lisa, and this will only improve once Adam's Lunch Box expands services.
"Work ethic is a big thing. He's got it and he enjoys it. He's got to have skills and he's gaining them," she said.
She added that her son stepped up in the style of a true CEO when the assessors, while deciding whether to approve the grant, pointed out requirements of the Jandreau family.
"He had to address the town assessors and he did it," Lisa said. "He said, 'The Jandreaus are gonna do what they need to do because I'm the president of this company.'"
Steve Pelletier, who is both a first selectman in St. John and the director of planning and economic development in Fort Kent, wrote the grant application that won the funds through the state DECD's Community Development Block Grant program.
Pelletier said he was happy to help the Jandreau family secure the grant, which he feels will ultimately benefit the community at large.
"I think this is an excellent project," he said. 'Any time a small town can add or expand business to drive economic development is a benefit to the area. It was a pleasure working with the Jandreaus to help secure the project's grant funding. Adam is a great kid and is really the driving force behind the project. This is a great example of a family working together to provide security and livelihood for themselves for many years to come."
Adam's mother said she also would like to help others with autism by providing opportunities for them to visit the new business once it is up and running, with their support professionals, to learn new skills as well.
"Yeah I want a successful business for him, but I want it to be a whole kind of learning center too," Lisa said.
She anticipates it will take about two to three years before the new business is solid, at which point, Adam will be an adult.
"We'll be his staff and he can take over," she said.
She said the business hopes to eventually offer home baked bread from an outdoor stone oven, as well as smoked meats and cheeses. She even has a neighbor down the street who she said makes a delicious zucchini relish she hopes to one day offer in the new shop.
"I think things are slowly creeping back to making that little stuff Grandma made that you don't see anymore," she said, adding that she is thrilled about a new ice cream shop which recently opened up in Allagash. "Let's just give people a reason to come up the road again for that Sunday drive."
To order fresh eggs or vegetables from Adam's Lunch Box call 207-834-7497. Delivery to Fort Kent is available. Adam's Lunch Box and Greenhouse also has a Facebook page.