Autistic man finds niche at Bastion Square

The process of making popcorn has become methodical for Asher Johnson-Dorman.

Asher's Amazing Popcorn will be on sale at the Bastion Square Public Market on Sundays.

Asher's Amazing Popcorn will be on sale at the Bastion Square Public Market on Sundays.

The process of making popcorn has become methodical for Asher Johnson-Dorman.

First, he takes coconut oil and pours it into the element, waiting patiently for it to heat up. Then he pours in cups of kernels. Once they’ve all stopped popping, he flips the aluminum pot and dumps the popcorn into the big glass box, evaluating it to make sure the popcorn has the right look and texture.

Next, he combines maple syrup, sugar, butter and maple extract to make a maple caramel sauce.

Once it has been whisked together, he gently and carefully pours the sauce onto the popcorn, letting it ooze and soak into every piece.

In the final step, he packages it in individual bags neatly tying them with red ribbon and placing an “Asher’s Amazing Popcorn” sticker on the front.

Twenty-two year-old Asher is the owner of Asher’s Amazing Popcorn, that currently sells two flavours of popcorn, buttered and his own specialty Maple Caramel Crunch recipe.

Asher, who has autism, started his own business after taking an entrepreneur course that taught him how to make a business plan and deal with marketing and budgeting.

“We went through a process called Discovery in which we find out what their likes and dislikes are, what kind of environment they work best in, what their interests and needs are,” said his mother Catriona Johnson.

“We discovered that Asher liked working with machinery . . . When he was younger, he was really into overhead projectors and coffee machines. He liked working with people and had an interest in popcorn.”

Through that program, Asher volunteered at the Victoria Theatre where he learned how to make popcorn, clean the machine and interact with customers.

From there his love for popcorn grew.

“I got to make popcorn at the theatre,” said Asher. “I’m trying to make lots of money to buy an RV.”

Catriona added he likes the sound the machine makes and the fact that he is responsible for taking care of it himself.

“He’s grown and become more social because of the interactions around the selling of popcorn. It’s interesting and not something I thought would happen,” she said.

In December, he test ran his popcorn at a few craft fairs around town and had a positive response, making between $80-100 per day.

Asher will be selling his popcorn throughout the summer at the Bastion Square Public Market on Sundays.

“Asher’s Amazing Popcorn is a nice thing to have at the market,” said organizer Thea Harris.

He is one of 65 local vendors participating in the market that runs until the end of September stretching from Warf to Government Street from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

As part of the 20th annual celebrations, Harris added they’re bringing back musicians who played at the market when it first started and will host a monthly fashion show.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read