~Porters Community Farm Update~
It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since we first came up with the idea of starting Porters Community Farm and turned to you to help make it a reality.
It has been a whirlwind and the time has flown by with tons of compost spread, what feels like tons of weeds pulled, and a ton of food produced for those who need it most.
From an abandoned lot, the thriving community space has grown providing fresh produce to the St. Francis House – a transitional home for the homeless – housing a community garden and hosting numerous tours, groups and events. The first fall, we started with one 50ft by 50ft growing area along with six raised beds. Our first field crop was a row of kale planted on October 25th, 2012.
From that day we have continued to expand, adding on an additional 50ft by 50ft section the next spring, along with many more raised beds. Nearly every corner of the three lots we occupy is filled with some sort of crop or tree.
Along with the funds we raised through our IndieGoGo campaign, we received an outpouring of community support with other donations. Lost Valley Farm donated an old mower and we received a generous donation of peach, apricot, apple, blueberry, fig, and pomegranate trees from Chestnut Hill Tree Farm. There have also been many other smaller donations of tools and supplies.
Porters Community Farm wouldn’t be possible without your support.
We encourage you to make a donation today so we can continue serving the community.
In order to supplement and fund our work, we applied for grants and received one from the Florida Wildflower Foundation to plant wildflowers around the perimeter of the farm. We also received funding from the Newman’s Own Foundation and, this year, received a grant from the City of Gainesville’s Community Development Block Grant to offer paid internships to teenagers in the neighborhood.
From day one, our main goal with Porters has been to provide fresh vegetables to the St. Francis House and other charities. We reached our goal of growing and donating 2,000 pounds of fresh produce to donate to the St. Francis House this past spring.
We have also provided fresh, organically grown vegetables to the Catholic Worker House and Gainesville Ministries. Additionally, we offer produce to the neighborhood and general public through our U-Pick, U-Pay-What-U-Can Farm Stand.
While the project has been successful overall, there certainly have been plenty of challenges. We have had our fair share of broken sprinkler heads and cracked pipes. We have also become very familiar with a who’s who of challenging weed species.
We had hoped to keep the project self-sustaining through produce sales and tried various avenues including restaurant sales, a Salad Community Supported Agriculture program and the U-Pick, U-Pay-What-U-Can Farm Stand. However, the resources needed to maintain this project still exceed the revenue generated by produce sales.
Porters in Numbers
Harvested 2,018 pounds for charity
Logged 2,512 volunteer hours
This year we are very excited to announce two youth education programs. The first is a once a week afterschool program in coordination with the Porters Community Center. The program consists of eight lessons and aims to teach science through gardening and farming.
Thanks to support from the City of Gainesville’s Community Development Block Grant, we will launch a youth crew program and hire three neighborhood youth between the ages of 14-17 to work at the farm as paid interns this spring.
The program’s goal is to promote healthy living by involving the youth in growing, harvesting, donating, selling, and eating of fruits and vegetables as well as use farming to teach business skills and valuable life skills like planning, teamwork, hard work and communication.
The funding only covers the cost of the paying the youth crew members. We still need funding to cover staff operating the program.
It’s no easy task operating a community farm and we couldn’t do it without the help of our partners.
Porters Community Farm hosts one of Gainesville Compost’s community compost centers that houses vegetables scraps from restaurants around downtown. They also process all the green waste from the farm, along with compost brought in from the neighborhood. Gainesville is home to many fantastic organic farms and they have been big supporters of Porters by donating surplus seedlings and other supplies in this past two years.
Volunteers are our greatest partners, providing much needed helping hands to keep crops alive and weeds down. We’ve had 19 interns pass through our internship program and hosted countless service groups.
After two years of operation, we strive to continue providing a valued community space, but need ongoing support to make it happen. If you would like to learn more, come for a tour or volunteer, just let us know.
Thank you for your past support and we hope you consider making a donation using the link below for us to continue this work and write Porters Community Farm in the comments section.