Actually, as our members know, we’ve been busy moving during the past several weeks. We’ll be out of the 1730 Powerline location by July 31. We will be open at the new (temporary) location (3195 N. Powerline Road, Suite 101) on Friday August 3, 2012 from noon to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday August 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The Patio Market will be in full operation with fresh gluten-free bread, Barry’s great hummus, and more. Plus it will be air conditioned, which is a pretty nice feature this time of year.
Why are we moving?
Because the rent’s too damn high! Plus some great opportunities we’ve been working on are coming to fruition. Read on for the full story.
Urban farming cannot be operated economically at commercial rent levels; this is the classic challenge of urban farming even when we use highly productive hydroponic methods.
The Urban Farmer location 1730 Powerline Road was carved from a very industrial site and became an oasis surrounded by a rock crushing and scrap metal operation – a very cool demonstration of making brownfield land productive. But the rent is priced at commercial rates that place a very high value on the land and is not sustainable for our operations.
Even if we made the property more productive with more hydroponic towers and customers, we would still be paying too much money for too little value. Over-paying for land results in under-paying for the honest labor needed to make the land productive and the farm at Powerline Road suffered from that imbalance.
But high rent is not the only issue. Frankly, we’ve learned some hard lessons and discovered some truths which are helping us change up our operating model to better serve our customers and the South Florida community. And now is the time to implement changes based on what we’ve learned.
Thank the stars (or your spirit(s) of choice) that our lease was up because we now have the opportunity to expand urban farming in South Florida through exciting community partnerships we’ve been developing. One of those opportunities is with the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) of Pompano Beach who have asked us to locate operations to under-used urban land in their city center. And that’s where we are headed – building more urban farms in South Florida in cooperation with private and civic interests for community improvement – starting in downtown Old Pompano Beach.
Developing more urban land for sustainable farming is at the core of our business mission to make more local food available. Working with communities that have an interest in the many benefits of growing locally is essential to urban farming success. Urban land by nature is precious and under the domain of many community interests, private and public. We are working in partnership with community interests to align zoning and community development interests to assure that affordable and under-utilized land is made available for responsible urban agriculture.
As our next Pompano Beach project is being set up, we will operate temporarily from a very nice and accessible space offered up by some new friends. Howie Lisboa and his family recently purchased an office/warehouse building up the street from our old farm location and are graciously working with us to make the transition from farm to office as easy as possible. Howie and family have their roots in farming in Brazil and they get us. The new space will have air conditioning, but alas, no space for growing on the premise. More importantly, we will have landlords who understand the nature of our business and support our mission. Urban agriculture absolutely involves committed landlords.
In addition to servicing the farm share program and Patio Market, we will also continue offering urban farming systems for home growers including Earthbox soil systems and Verti-gro hydroponics and will have full supplies of organic nutrients and pest control products. We are planning to resume a parking lot version of our Urban Farmer Green Markets to showcase local food makers and artists.
There is much more to talk about, but today, we need to finish packing, so we’ll save it for future posts.