It’s not hard to understand why 33% of global climate change is attributed to our inefficient food systems when the average meal travels over 1,500 miles to get to our plate. Thanks to innovative minds around the US, there are “new” production systems popping up to reduce emissions through localization. In December 2013, East End Market and IDEAS For Us launched Fleet Farming, a pedal-powered urban food model. While there are similar urban farms that use bikes for distribution, like Detroit’s Rising Pheasant Farms and Tallahassee’s Ten Speed Greens, Fleet Farming is unique because they farm multiple community-owned plots by bike, not just one farm.
1. Setting up home gardens (aka “farmlettes”)
2. Using bikes and trailers to transport tools and freshly harvested produce from farmlettes to market
3. Hosting monthly SWARM rides where volunteers can lend a hand and learn the tricks of farming in the testy Florida climate
In June 2014, Fleet Farming was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Healthy Central Florida Foundation to expand from 5 to 10 farmlettes and hire a Program Coordinator. Look out for Fleet Farming greens at the Audubon Park Community Market in October and learn more about our new coordinator, Seth Czaplewski, below!How did you become involved in farming?
I met John [Rife, East End Market owner] at one of his vegetable garden workshops. We talked a little there and emailed a few times after. At the workshop I learned about IDEAS For Us’ “Hive,” which is held at East End. I learned about Fleet Farming there and wanted to be involved because of how unique it is from the typical way people get their food.
What about FF intrigues you?
Like many other people I would like to see food get to my table in a way other than giant agribusiness being responsible for it. Fleet Farming is a great opportunity to see if small scale farming operations are actually feasible. Given the success of the pilot project, my guess is they are.
How does FF reflect your own values and how do you hope it will shape those of Audubon and Winter Park?
I believe food has to come back to the areas people live. It’s pretty crazy – there is basically no food growing in Orlando, or any city in the US for that matter. I think Fleet Farming will provide amazing food, but maybe more importantly, open people up to questioning why they have a lawn that consumes when they can have a garden that produces fresh food all year. I hope in the near future I can see entire blocks of people growing food in their yards.
Do you think FF will become a trend throughout Central Florida?
Most definitely, it couldn’t be more timely either. The drought in California is going to drive food prices further and further upwards and people are going to be looking for cheaper and better options. It’s something you can really be proud of– taking a yard that had a lawn on it for maybe the last 50 years and getting garden fresh salad. It is really rewarding!