Date of this Version
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Entomology Online Masters Program Final Project. Lincoln, Nebraska.
The summer of 2018 led to an opportunity with a local non-profit called Fleet Farming. This non-profit had different departments available for internships which included greenhouse and farming. I was familiar with the program in that I knew they farmed in people’s front yards, in ‘farmlettes’ that had been converted from lawns. I was most interested in the job description under farming that said “practicing IPM”. I had developed an interest in IPM when I took Dr. Tom Weissling’s class on the Management of horticultural crop insects in the Spring of 2018. I wanted more ‘hands on’ learning and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I had very little IPM knowledge from previous classes at the University of Florida because, at the time, I had no interest in that path. This would change with my desire to learn and the opportunity presented to me.
Fleet Farming is an urban agriculture program that is funded by a non-profit called Ideas for us which spurs community involvement in a variety of environmental awareness projects. Fleet Farming has two underlining goals: (1) practice sustainable farming while educating the community in these sustainable farming practices and (2) provide food to impoverished areas in the community. There are two branches of Fleet farming with multiple departments. The West Orlando branch is in the west side of downtown Orlando, in the Parramore district. Parramore is consider a “food desert” because of the lack of fresh, local food available to the inhabitants of the neighborhoods. We farm at this branch, at our headquarters, which is a church at Kaley square. The Audubon branch, the branch that I manage, is the ‘flagship’ of Fleet Farming and contains 14 micro farms (farmlettes) in a neighborhood called Audubon Park. Most of the ‘farmlettes’ are residential properties that have been converted from lawns. A single property is commercial, at East End Market, with raised beds and serves a teaching site.
Fleet Farming is unique beyond the traditional urban farm concept. The Audubon Park branch is in a small neighborhood nestled in the northeast of downtown Orlando. The 14 ‘farmlettes’ that I maintain are roughly within a two-mile radius of each other. All properties are maintained by a bike that hauls a trailer. (see Figure 1) We use this to haul tools, compost, plant starts, and any other items we need. It is not unusual to see a “fleet” of bicycles rolling down the street when we are out farming. Most of our labor is dependent upon volunteers and the interns we employ throughout each school semester.