ORLANDO, FL – IDEAS For Us, with the help of our monthly community think + do tank program called the Hive Orlando, has recently partnered with Orlando food and cultural hub, East End Market, to launch a new community-driven, pedal-powered urban farming and composting program called Fleet Farming!
In December 2013, East End owner, John Rife, was asked to pitch an idea to the Hive Orlando think tank to gain valuable insight and see if we were up for the test. After excellent feedback and interest in the idea, IDEAS leaders have organized and helped to turn this idea into a reality.
Today, our food system has major flaws contributing to negative impacts on our people and the environment at large. On average, our food travels 1500-2000 miles, per person, per plate, per day; and has been attributed to 33% of global climate change.
The solution to this challenge that we developed was called Fleet Farming, and refers to ‘Farmers’ on a ‘Fleet’ of bicycles that set up home gardens throughout the Winter Park community, and help manage the grow-to-harvest process of urban farming. Participating homes receive excess produce each season that is grown throughout the gardens, similar to the commonly known ‘community supported agriculture’ (CSA) model. These ‘Farmers’ are made up of citizens in Central Florida, and members from partnering organizations interested in volunteering and learning the skills of urban agriculture.
In addition, each week, Fleet Farmers host a community ride called ‘the Swarm’, and travel the route for an average of 8-10 miles from Winter Park Urban Farm to East End Market. Each garden is regularly maintained, including tilling, watering, removal of weeds and pests, application of organic fertilizer, harvesting of the fruits and vegetables throughout the year, and distributing the local produce to local venues using zero-emission pedal-power.
In phase 2 starting Fall 2014, the ‘Fleet farmers’ will also expand the program to include composting, by collecting pre-and-post consumer food waste from the restaurants in route to develop the final piece of the closed-loop system. This inspiration comes from our friends and partners at Gainesville Compost who have been driving local composting for the past 3 years.
Fleet Farming leaders recently launched a promotional video, created by DJ Chill Will – the world’s first solar powered DJ – and highlights the talented animation and design of IDEAS leaders, Stephanie Valderrama and Stephanie Wrong.
IDEAS believes this can become a model that can spread to any city and any community. It will enhance community, bring people back to basics, and alleviate some of the problems with the current food system.
Finally, if you like what you read, and you’re interested in signing up or learning more information about Fleet Farming, visit us at http://fleetfarming.com, or check out the IDEAS website at http://ideasforus.org
By Chris Castro and Chill Will