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Fleet Farmlets: Bike-Powered Urban Farming in Central Florida

Fleet Farmlets: Bike-Powered Urban Farming in Central Florida
Text and images by Natalie Costa

A new initiative, pioneered by IDEAS for US, is using pedal power to create farmlets in communities throughout Central Florida. Better known as fleet farming, this environmental movement asks homeowners to volunteer their lawns to be tilled and maintained by a community of “fleet farmers.” The way it works is simple: A group of activists meet up and form a “swarm,” following the primary farmer by bicycle to a series of destinations each week. Upon arrival, farmers are assigned tasks like irrigation, tilling, or fertilizing under the supervision of an experienced horticulturist. The result is a microfarm, or farmlet, and a bevy of rich crops that are later harvested and sold at the local farmers market.

This comes at no cost to the homeowner although they are encouraged to participate and each volunteer receives a free agricultural education from environmental conservationists like fleet farming coordinators Heather Grove and Chris Castro. During each swarm, Grove or Castro haul a wagon with the produce that is harvested from the microfarm, which is later sold directly to the consumer or by Local Roots Distribution at East End Market, a local food cooperative.

And it doesn’t just have to be spring in Florida to invite a “swarm.” These photos are from a winter event where fleet farmers planted lettuce varietals and other organic greens. Going green is a year-round initiative, even on a bike.

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