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Oceanside non-profit grows, donates crops to local food banks

Posted at 8:35 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-03 23:35:23-04

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — The non-profit TERI, based in Oceanside, supports people with Autism, developmental and learning disabilities, and those with brain injuries.

Founder Cheryl Kilmer boasts that they've "built this beautiful culture where we take care of everyone like it's one big family."

The TERI family is about to celebrate a big birthday — 40 years.

They've broken ground on a new 20-acre "Campus of Life" in San Marcos that will be an international model of care for people from birth through end of life.

During the pandemic, they are getting creative, and with 13 full-time homes that don't shut down, their staff is on the front lines and taking risks to make sure quality of life continues for the permanent residents.

The staff at TERI numbers around 500. Kilmer says their creativity has enabled them to keep everyone employed.

"So they have their jobs," she says. "They have their full time income, and they and they know their job is secure and that we are prepared to open when the world opens back up."

Stimulus funding has helped and they continue to fund raise, although not as much as they'd like right now. So they’ve put the focus on giving back with what they produce at TERI.

"So we became years ago, organic farmers, and we have both an organic micro-greens business and then we have lots of citrus itself and other crops," says Kilmer.

Usually they sell some to restaurants, but lately they've been harvesting and donating the bounty to local food banks. To the tune of nearly 700 pounds of citrus. They've also distributed close to five thousand pounds of mushrooms.

Kilmer says finding some new thing that they can do for someone else is a philosophy that serves as a perfect solution to facing a challenging time.

TERI hopes to be done with the campus in three years, and to be able to show it off to visitors from all over the world, furthering their mission to change the way the world views and helps children and adults touched by special needs.