Fleet Farming is Not That Kind of Farmer

Two University of Miami students, Karli Evans and Traia Thiel, heard about Fleet Farming through their school chapter of IDEAS For Us. They devoted their fall semester film project to documenting the story of Fleet Farming, making several visits to Orlando to be a part of the Swarm ride and to record every stage of our expansion. Since completing the film in early February, Karli and Traia have started an entire website to feature the sustainable local food scene in Miami, called Not That Kind of Farmer. We’ve been waiting for the right moment to share it with you all!

In celebration of completing our 10th working farmlette, we want to thank every urban farming volunteer, our sponsors, our mentors, and especially this film team for helping us….
1. Grow and sell over 1,000 pounds of produce to Central Florida
2. Engage over 80 volunteers
3. Complete 38 pedal-powered Swarm Rides
4. Get 80 homeowners to sign up to donate their lawn
5. Sell to over 8 local chefs and distributors

We couldn’t have grown this much without you. We are so grateful for your support!

Your Spring Garden

While we may not have had the snowstorms that ravaged much of the North East, Central Floridians are pretty happy that the chilly days are behind, and warm days await. While you can hop on over to the Audubon Market to buy our freshly harvested produce, there’s nothing stopping you from using the warm days to tend to your own garden. As we know over at East End, there is nothing quite as satisfying as growing, and eating, from your own yard.
If you are plating for the first time, take a gander over at our blog post from last year (https://www.eastendmkt.com/tag/compost/), and that will help you out from what type of compost to where to get your seeds. Once you have your garden all set, it’s time to get growing!
10 Veggies to Plant in Spring:
Lima, Pole, and Bush Beans: March – April
Sweet Potato: March – June
Cantaloupes: March – April
Sweet Corn: March
Eggplant: March – April 
Okra: February – July
Cucumber: March
Watermelon: March – April
For herbs, it may be smart to start in a pot, and then it can be transferred to your garden once it matures. Cumin, which is perfect for your homemade curry, can be planted in Orlando in the Spring, and harvested once the leaves turn brown. Rosemary is a sun lover, and fresh or dried leaves can be used for cooking. Basil is of course an easy grow, and just like rosemary, it loves the sun, plus, it also attracts beneficial insects. For a perennial herb, try mint, which can actually be grown in shade or the full sun.  So happy farming, Orlandoans, and say hello to Spring!

Fleet Farming gets front page press in Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, FL – You might have heard of Kevin Spear, a local celebrity editorial writer for the Orlando Sentinel who often covers local and state-wide news regarding energy and the environment. Last Sunday on our bi-weekly Swarm ride, Kevin and his wife joined us for the journey, and decided to create a short video, photo album, and write a front-page story in the paper on Wednesday, February 17th, 2015!

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Kevin introduces Fleet Farming by describing “kids, moms, hipsters, students and dads pedaling their bikes and wield borrowed tools to cultivate lettuce, kale and other organic greens in vibrant gardens of Orlando yards.”

Also quoted in the story was actress and farmlette host Andrea Baker, who said “I love the idea of zero carbon, zero pollution,” And, well, there’s more. “They do absolutely everything, and I get to sit with a cup of tea and watch,” she said, laughing in appreciation. “I get to enjoy.”

For more about the story, check out the article, video, and photo album at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-bicycle-urban-garden-expanding-20150217-story.html


Can Fleet Farming Save Food Deserts?

Fleet Farming was recently featured on the IDEAS For Us blog in “My IDEAS”, an on-going video series where environmentalists from around the world give their unique perspective on sustainability while highlighting how they are using their talents, skills, and new ideas to take action on climate change.

In this episode of “My IDEAS”, Heather Grove discusses urban agriculture and its impact on healthy living, climate action, and food deserts.

The IDEAS movement is fortunate enough to operate in many different countries and among many different cultures. With hundreds of people working tirelessly everyday to advance sustainability and increase environmental awareness, there are many great stories to tell. This series is an opportunity to highlight the amazing work done by IDEAS leaders all around the world as well as empowering others by sharing ideas.

The “My IDEAS” series was created by IDEAS Media Director, Ricardo Williams.


Fleet Farming continues expansion in Audubon Park, Colonial-town, and Winter Park in Spring 2015

ORLANDO, FL — Over the past month, we’ve had an influx of new Fleet Farmers join the bi-weekly Swarm rides, helping to grow and distribute more local food in Orlando. Below are some recent pictures of our events.

A big thanks to all the riders who have helped continue the pedal-powered urban farming program!

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Where can I get some Fleet Greens?
Come by the Audubon Park Community Mark every Monday from 6-8pm ET to pick up for Fleet Greens for the week, OR find the at Local Roots located at East End Market!

How do I get involved?
Please reach out to us at: think@ideasforus.org or click the Sign Up tab at the top of the page.

Now at the Audubon Park Community Market Monday Nights!

One of the beautiful things about Fleet Farming is that everyone can participate on any level that they wish. Whether you host a farmlette, farm with us on a Swarm ride, or simply buy Fleet Farm greens at the Market, there is a way to get involved for both the greenest and blackest of thumbs.

This past Monday, Audubon Park Community Market goers had their first opportunity to purchase Fleet Farming’s organic and locally grown greens! After hours of harvesting, washing and packaging in East End Market’s licensed kitchen, we were ready to sell!

We had 4 varieties to choose from: arugula, arugula and Asian green mix, arugula and baby romaine, or just baby romaine. We sold over 20 lbs of greens on Monday night and hope to sell out next Monday! Whatever doesn’t go home with market-goers on Monday, we sell to Chef Henry at Txokos Basque Kitchen or some of the East End merchants right down the road.

Oh, wondering how much green to bring? We sold our JAM PACKED 1/2 pound bags for an introductory price of just $3 or 2 for $5. Unlike store-bought greens that will start to rot just days after opening, our FRESH lettuce will last more than a week! It stays fresh longer because it didn’t travel miles on a truck and sit in a warehouse before being delivered to the store. It also lasts longer because there is just so darn much of it!

So, stay tuned for another video on the story of Fleet next month, and in the meantime see you at the market!

Fleet Farming Welcomes Program Coordinator!

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.

It’s as simple as the graphic above:
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!


Meet Fleet Farming’s pioneering program coordinator, Seth!

How did you become involved in farming?
I met John 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.

The bike trailor

Less fossil fuel. More food fuel.

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.


Prepping beds at a neighborhood farmlette

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!

Fleet Farming Wins $5,000 Grant from Healthy Central Florida


Healthy Central Florida has recently awarded a total of $25,000 worth of grants to 13 organizations for projects to improve healthy food access. In May, 75 people attended a required workshop outlining best practices in the healthy food movement. National food expert, Jessica Donze Black, of the Pew Charitable Trust, was the key presenter along with IDEAS leader Ricardo Williams and East End Market owner John Rife. 28 organizations at the workshop submitted grant applications, incorporating things they’d learned in the workshop. In the end, 13 projects were selected.

IDEAS For Us is excited to announce that the Fleet Farming program was awarded $5,000 from the Healthy Central Florida Foundation innovation grants! The money will help to expand the program to the Winter Park community in the fall of 2014.

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What is Fleet Farming?
- A community-driven, Low-carbon, distributed urban farming model
- Build less than .25 acre home gardens in the community
- Use bike-powered transportation for maintenance and harvest of produce
- Sell produce at local farmers markets, food trucks, and local restaurants

The ‘Fleet Farmer’ name refers to ‘Farmers’ on a ‘Fleet’ of bicycles, helping to manage the grow-to-harvest process of urban farming. These ‘Farmers’ will be made up of IDEAS members from surrounding high schools and universities (i.e. Winter Park HS, UCF, Rollins, Hive Orlando, etc.), and members from partnering organizations. Each ‘Farmer’ will sign-up for a scheduled bike-ride once per week, traveling an average of 8-10 miles from Winter Park Urban Farm to East End Market, and back.