FPZA Luncheon: Fleet Farming Pedal Powered Urban Farming
Friday, February 24, 2017
noon - 2 p.m. EST
Jacksonville, FL, United States
CM | 1Add to My Log
Fleet Farming was founded in Orlando, Florida, in 2013. It came about during a design thinking workshop known locally as The Hive. This workshop is hosted monthly by Orlando-based nonprofit IDEAS For Us and it was during the Hive when participants began conceptualizing the Fleet Farming business model. IDEAS For Us (IDEAS) is an Orlando-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and accredited NGO of the United Nations. Our mission is to develop, fund, and scale solutions to the World’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Our aim is to create new solutions (i.e. social enterprises, projects, initiatives, and campaigns) that engage people of all ages in addressing issues in the areas of energy, water, food, waste and ecology. Our platform provides a global network of chapters and members the technical support and key resources they need to carry out measurable actions that result in solving problems, including project funding via micro-grants, educational curriculum, and peer-to-peer mentorship.
Since our inception, IDEAS has scaled to over 200 chapters and implemented projects in more than 20 countries across the continents of Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Fleet Farming is one of many solutions, incubated and managed by IDEAS, which has the potential to create significant impact and scale across many communities around the world. With the average plate of food in the U.S. traveling up to 1,800 miles1, the global industrial food system contributes to ~30% of global warming with related CO2 emissions2. Meanwhile, there are 40 million acres of lawn in the U.S.3, an underutilized resource to transform food production. Additionally, between 30% to 60% of the fresh water in U.S. cities is used to water lawns, and 580 million gallons of gasoline annually are used to mow them4, 5. The Fleet Farming model creates a decentralized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system that converts homeowner lawns and underutilized land throughout any neighborhood into mini organic urban farms (known as ‘farmlettes’). The produce grown takes a new spin on ‘sharecropping’ and provides 5-10% of the food to the homeowner. Fleet Farmers then use zero-emission transportation by using bicycles to maintain the farmlettes, harvest and process the food, and distribute everything to local restaurants and farmers markets in the surrounding neighborhoods. This ensures that the local economy is stimulated, and that the revenues from the sale of produce are maintained within the neighborhood.
As a method of citizen participation, anyone in the community can be a Fleet Farmer. They simply attend one of our biweekly SWARM Rides, bring a bike, gloves, water and a helmet, and receive 1/2 off our produce at the farmers market. Throughout the bi-weekly ride, the Fleet Farmers stop at 3-5 farmlettes to engage in the collaborative experience of tilling, setting up irrigation, planting, weeding, harvesting, processing, and selling the produce at the local markets. Fleet Farming has been a wildly successful Solution of IDEAS For Us, gaining national attention from NowThis Media, NPR All Things Considered, Huffington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, and many others. Since our launch in 2014, we have grown to 15 farmlettes in the Audubon Park Neighborhood of Orlando, produced over 2,000 pounds of produce, 3,000 miles pedaled, hosted over 35 Swarm rides, engaged more than 600 people, and we’re generating enough revenue to sustain our operations with two part-time urban farmers. Furthermore, there are more than 300 homes in Orlando who have applied to have their lawns converted into farmlettes.
In 2015, Fleet Farming began to diversify its business model in order to accommodate the seasonality of agriculture production. Under the Fleet Fruits segment, homeowners register their fruit trees with Fleet Farming for a fruit gleaning service. Under this service, Fleet Farming maintains and harvests from
in-season fruit trees on a quarterly basis – sharecropping 5-10 % of the fruits with the homeowner. The remaining produce is sold through Fleet Farming’s established channels. Additionally, Fleet Farming administers a third revenue stream known as Fleet Gardens. This segment is a raised-bed turn-key garden installation service for homes and businesses who would like to manage a home garden but do not have the resources or skills to establish it. Fleet Farming can be contracted for seasonal operations and maintenance if the customers would like to include this in their offering. As part of Fleet Gardens, homeowners and businesses receive a guide on maintaining their garden in their local climate. Leveraging the existing network of IDEAS For Us, Fleet Farming has successfully piloted the expansion to West Oakland, California (Fleet Farming Oakland) and Kampala, Uganda. Considering the impact in these locations, Fleet Farming in sum has converted 24 lawns and harvested over 4,000 lbs of produce.
Through the experiences in Orlando, Fleet Farming developed our First Edition of the “Fleet Farming
Toolkit”, an initial resource to highlight the technical and organizational processes used in establishing a Fleet Farming branch. After feedback from purchasers, Fleet Farming decided to mobilize urban agriculture stakeholders from Pittsburgh, Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, and LA communities to participate in a curated design-thinking workshop known as The Hive. This framework provided a collaborative platform for Fleet Farming to diverge and converge an interdisciplinary, intergenerational audience of local urban agriculture stakeholders and enthusiasts in the conceptualization of the challenges and adaptations the Fleet Farming model would require to be successful in their respective community’s. Following the journey, Fleet Farming has decided to launch a paid "franchise-inspired" annual membership structure in January 2017. This membership will include access to the Fleet Farming branch, digital marketing resources, a thorough Operations Manual to walk you through step-by-step just how to successfully start and operate a Fleet Farming Branch, and bi-weekly training and consultation opportunities with Fleet Farming Staff.
You can find more information about Fleet Farming at www.fleetfarming.com
1 - http://www.cuesa.org/learn/how-far-does-your-food-travel-get-your-plate
2 - http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev-environ-020411-130608
3,4,5 - http://scienceline.org/2011/07/lawns-vs-crops-in-the-continental-u-s/
Lara Diettrich, email@example.com