By guest writer Hazel Miller
“It makes a whole lot of sense when you realize that you can eat your lawn rather than mow it”
Fleet farming is an interesting concept of urban agriculture. This is a program of the 501(c)(3) non proﬁt group IDEAS For US. The concept is to use “underutilized” land for micro farming. The produce grown is “share cropped” and the excess is sold at local SNAP certiﬁed farmer markets. The ﬂeet volunteers ride bicycles in what is called “swarm” rides around the neighborhoods to harvest the crops and then deliver to the farmers market. The individual gardens are supported by the local community members. The movement is currently operating in Orlando, Florida.
A typical American meal travels an average of 1500 miles from farm to table. In the US, estimates are that 10 calories of fossil fuel energy are expended for every calorie that we consume due to the transportation. And a lawn absorbs chemical fertilizer, water, pesticides and gasoline for mowing which is wasteful. Farming transforms the “wasteland” into a productive environment that beneﬁts all.
The system operates by individual homeowners allowing volunteers of the project to turn their urban yards into gardens. Residents are allowed by the city to farm up to 60% of their yards. These lawns are called “farmlettes”. The farmlettes are cared for by Fleet Farming volunteers and must be at least 500 square feet in size, receive 8 hours of sun daily, have access to a water supply and be 2 years chemical spray free. The homeowners pay a startup cost of $500 to cover supply costs. The farming volunteers handle soil prep, irrigation, planting, weeding and harvesting. Each week the farmlettes in Orlando produce about 100 pounds of produce.
Homeowners can harvest 10% of the grown produce for their own use. Orlando has 25 farmlettes currently and has a wait list of over 2000 homes. The popularity of the Orlando based farming concept has created so much interest that an online training program has been designed and launched for other interested cities across the nation.
For more information, please visit https://fleetfarming.org and “Fleet Farming: Inspiring Future Urban Farmers” and click on the you tube presentation.