CHICAGO (CBS) — Some parents of young adults with autism were expressing thanks for a local program that has helped their children become more independent.

Twenty young adults with autism earned money and work experience at Growing Solutions Farm in the Illinois Medical District this year; growing everything from herbs to carrots, and giving tours.

Diane Blazek, executive director of the National Garden Bureau, a Downers Grove-based non-profit which gave money to the farm, said she hopes others will help fund the program.

“It is filling a need for a group of young adults who otherwise are kind of getting left out of the system,” she said.

According to Blazek, the vocational therapy garden has provided practical lessons to autism patients who often prefer to interact with screens.

“This takes them out of that, and puts them in a community where they learn communications skills,” she said.

The farm employed 20 autistic people this year, and cultivated more than just vegetables.

“The parents said “It was just amazing to see my child go from sitting at home at the dinner table, and wouldn’t talk to us at all, to walking down to that garden and seeing him give these tours, sometimes to a group of 12-20 people,” Blazek said.

She said Growing Solutions has helped teach practical skills to autistic young adults who have aged out of the educational system. The program teaches them cooking lessons, and how to maintain a healthy diet.

The farm is seeking $12,000 in donations to expand.

For more information on the Growing Soltions Farm, click here.