Growing your own food is a rewarding experience that’s even more special when it’s shared with others. Whether you’re filling a whole greenhouse or growing herbs in a mason jar, there are seemingly endless ways to try your hand at gardening. But there is one well-known green space that so often goes unused – a lawn! Did you know there are more than 40 million acres of grassy lawns across the US?
Seeing this as underutilized space, the nonprofit IDEAS for Us, in Orlando, launched their Fleet Farming program to transform grassy lawns into micro “farmlettes,” building a sustainable local food system in neighborhoods across the city.
Twice a month, Fleet Farming hosts “Swarm Rides” in which volunteers gather on bicycles and cruise around town, tending to the farmlettes. These events bring together people of all ages and help to provide edible landscapes to the community centers, schools, and affordable housing units, and others who provide the use of their land. Roughly 10 percent of produce that’s grown is kept by the individuals who live or work on the property, with the remainder sold through Fleet Farming’s CSA or their farm stand, or donated to the community. As of spring 2021, Fleet Farming has:
- Converted 114,500 square feet of lawns into urban edible landscapes
- Harvested 7,710 pounds of fresh, healthy food
- Educated 5,280 volunteers
- Fed 5,140 local community members
- Created 17 school gardens
To celebrate the grand opening of Sprouts’ new Distribution Center in Orlando, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation is donating $26,000 to the Fleet Farming program. The funds will be used to purchase a pickup truck, allowing for the easier transport of large supplies, to build a commissary community kitchen at Fleet Farming’s headquarters in Audubon Park, and to transition Fleet Farming’s weekly CSA into a zero waste operation.