If you're the type of person who appreciates some good news, how about a little urban-farm update to brighten your day?
Orlando's Packing District is a massive, rapidly developing new residential area with one big planned perk: an 18-acre farm, which was approved by the City of Orlando on Monday.
The new lease is a germination, if you will, allowing 4Roots Farm Campus, a "unique urban farm unlike anything seen in the country," to finally begin sprouting a new discovery center, convention and event barn, teaching and demo kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant, community greens for farmers markets, live concerts, art expos and flexible classrooms, as well as wetlands improvements to maintain the land.
Led by John Rivers, the CEO of 4 Rivers Restaurant Group, the campus will focus on creating a sustainable regional food system they say will tackle food waste, farmland erosion, farming declines and local hunger. The foundation is leveraging partnerships to create agricultural education programs to inspire young farmers and create health and nutritional awareness.
The video announcement for the project looks amazing:
In March, 4Roots and 4 Rivers combined to launch their Feed the Need Florida initiative, which has served more than a million meals across Florida, creating more than 320 jobs. That project has already expanded from Tuesdays at St. Luke's United Methodist Church to add Fridays at the Plaza Live parking lot.
We first reported about the farm campus in November 2019, when the 4R Foundation announced plans for the 40-acre farm. Site work on the farm is expected to begin in the fall.
The $700 million, 202-acre Packing District itself — centered at North Orange Blossom Trail and Princeton Street, just west of College Park — was created when the city annexed the property in 1996. Since then, Dr. Phillips Charities has committed $1 million to the development of the farm campus alone.
"When we donated land for the park to the City, the original intent for the southern portion was to include a site for educational farming, agriculture and more," says Ken Robinson, president and CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities. "The vision we have seen from John and his team truly shows the passion, commitment and shared values in creating a campus that aligns with our focus on building health, wellness and community throughout the district."
The district will someday be home to a YMCA Family Center, a 100-acre park, nature trails and the 4Roots Farm. The Southern Box Food Hall restaurant and brewery will be housed in a 1930s-era building that once housed the Dr. Phillips orange-crate factory.
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