Progress at Our City Homestead
Things are moving slowly and steadily at our homestead in the city…just the way I like it. The micro farm portion of our project has taken precedence as it will provide great food and an income.
Steps We’ve Taken So Far to Establish Our Urban Commercial Organic Micro Farm in Jacksonville, Florida:
Establishing a commercial farm in an urban neighborhood requires compliance with zoning and quite a bit of leg work to begin. So far we’ve…
- Contacted the Jacksonville Zoning Department to make sure our property is zoned for commercial urban agriculture. It is! Although our property is zoned for commercial agriculture, it is not zoned for business, so we cannot sell our produce on-site from a produce stand. The zoning representative also said we’ll need to store our farm tools in an enclosure or in our house.
- Met with a representative of the Florida Department of Agriculture to obtain a grower’s permit. It seems that an operation of our size does not need a permit, but we qualify for an exemption which we still needed to apply for through the Department of Agriculture.
- Obtained a quote for public liability insurance to protect us in case of a lawsuit. According to my research, our public liability insurance will be under $35 per month.
- Researched the organic certification process in Florida. I believe our first year testing and certification will cost around $400.
- Contacted two health food stores to find out if they’d buy our produce to ensure that we’ll have a market. The produce managers from both health food stores assured me that they will buy our local produce as long as it is certified organic.
Above Ground Farming With a Phytopod
Several months ago, my good friend Steve turned me on to an amazing contraption called a Phytopod. The phytopod was invented by Dr. Eluem Blyden in Oakland, Ca. (he has since moved to New York).
The phytopod is a lined frame with an internal watering system that allows a gardener or farmer to grow food vertically. With the phytopod, a person can grow as much food as they could in a 20 foot garden row in as little as 4 square feet.
After learning about the Phytopod, I immediately contacted the inventor, Dr. Blyden. He was equally impressed with what we are doing, and we may end up adding several phytopods to our homestead.
On an urban core property like ours, the benefits of vertical container farming are numerous. Here are three:
- The soil in urban neighborhoods is often contaminated by pollutants. Ours is contaminated with lead ash. With a phytopod, we will be able to fill our containers with good soil and grow nutritious food while we figure out how to heal our land.
- Vertical farming maximizes the use of small plots of land.
- Container farms can be certified organic instantly if the containers are filled with organic soil. Most in-ground farms require a transition period that may take years.
Photo courtesy of VerticalHomeGardens.com.