Heather Grove on Fleet Farming
Localizing a food system through community gardening on donated lawns.
Heather co-created Stetson University’s garden and farmers market and served as the founding Community Director of Orlando’s East End Market. After interning with the USDA, researching food systems in Central Florida and abroad, Heather returned to her hometown to help rebuild Orlando’s local food system in 2011, where she helped bring Fleet Farming to life. She now works on sustainable agriculture and rural development projects abroad while consulting new branches of Fleet Farming around the world.
In This Podcast: Greg gets a chance to meet Heather who is leading a transformative new community farming program called Fleet Farming. You might have heard about the new idea of community gardening through donated front lawns and volunteers traveling on bikes to farm the plots. Heather explains how the program was created and how far it has expanded at this point. It all started with a brainstorming event looking to help localize the food system, and it now is to be replicated in cities across the United States and around the world. The success of this project is phenomenal and is a great example of the effect of urban farming ideas and education in action.
Listen in to Learn About:
- Her college experience and her focus on local food systems and how she was empowered after a trip to Guatemala
- Starting her university’s community garden which transformed into a farmers market and is now the city’s farmers market
- Helping co-found East End Market in Orlando, Florida the area’s first food hub
- “The Hive” an event run by Ideas for Us, an International Think-and-Do-Tank based in Orlando Florida that focused on sustainability pillars
- Brainstorming on highly localized food systems by converting peoples lawns to garden plots and using bikes and volunteers to maintain the plots
- Started with three local lawn plots and are now up to 15 plots in Orlando.
- Branches opened up in Oakland CA, and also in Uganda
- Current in Bali researching new sustainable farming methods
- Have a tool kit available to help cities start their own fleet farming programs
- Opening up a new aspect of franchising the Fleet Farming program to help keep the program and the integrity of the program intact
- Playgroundcity.org and the digital backpack of badges that they are participating in
- More about Fleet Farming: who participates, what the lawn requirements are, and what happens on the plots
- What is grown on the plots and where it goes
- What the difference is between Fleet Farming and community gardens
- How the group farming events work with people riding on bikes from plot to plot
- What she is doing in Bali and what she is learning while farming there
- Her appreciation for the Kul kul farm
As well as:
- Learning how to run a business was one of her biggest hurdles and challenges,
- How the Fleet Farming has become such a great community with over 400 people that want to start branches
- How her grandfather has been a great mentor to her and how being a servant to the community drives her
Heather’s Book Recommendations:
Ancient Futures by Helen Norbert-Hodge
How to reach Heather:
Find great property in Naples, Florida for growing your own green fortress.