TAMPA, Fla. — The farm represents a connection with nature, farm-to-table values, and growing healthy food.
As we continue to live our lives during this horrific pandemic, many people are focused on keeping their immune systems up as we all try and avoid getting sick.
“It’s exciting because there’s not too many places like this, but a huge demand for it, and so we need more places like this, and we are trying to do as much as we can, but it’s really a community project,” Chris Kenrick the Director of Sweetwater Organic Community Farm said. “This is your farm. It’s not my farm. I don’t own this farm; we are just stewards of this farm.”
Located at 6942 West Comanche Ave, in the heart of Town ‘n’ Country, the farm is an oasis surrounded by an urban jungle.
“We do offer seeds and starts and classes and really trying to connect them with other farmers,” Kenrick said. “That’s why, you know, this farmers market is trying to get more farmers here. To show them so we can all learn from each other, how do we grow our own food? But we need more farmers. It’s a fact it’s a crisis around the United States, and that’s why we need farms like this to teach people how to grow their food.”
Kenrick said the pandemic is creating a renewed interest in locally grown organic food. The parking lot when we visited on opening day was packed. More than a dozen vendors lined the entrance selling everything from honey, fresh coconut water to locally grown food.
“One ounce of broccoli microgreens is equal to eating 20 ounces of broccoli,” Linda Borghi said the owner of New Leaf Flavors said.
Borghi started selling her microgreens at the farm last year.
“It’s about a connection to our food source, and I think we are going into a pretty dark time now with food shortages, so the more people that build up that immune system and know how to grow something as easy as microgreens, the better we’ll all be for it.”
The farm used this opportunity to add a new field and launch a co-op food market to sell more perishable items like chicken and dairy.
The expansion comes with risks and rewards. Kenrick said they need more volunteers to tend to the fields and accountants, people in marketing, and other business areas to volunteer their time to help grow the farm.
“We are a hundred percent volunteer-run,” Kenrick said. “So, you know everybody here that’s working on the farm is a volunteer, and yeah, we need more volunteers.”
In April, in the middle of coronavirus lockdowns, we visited the farm. It was a ghost town. What a difference a couple of months makes.
“Every week, you are going to see us producing a little bit more produce cause we are growing, and we are in season, and the farmers market season goes to the end of May,” Kenrick said. “I’m thankful we have another season to keep growing and serve the community and show people where their food comes from and offer them good healthy food.”