18-acre farm campus to take shape in The Packing District
ORLANDO, Fla. (July 6, 2020) – Orlando will soon be home to a unique urban farm unlike anything seen in the country, and now, that vision is one step closer to reality. The City of Orlando today approved a lease for the 18-acre 4Roots Farm Campus, a project of The 4R Foundation.
The farm campus will bring complementary improvements that protect the wetlands and steward the land in natural and useful ways that benefit the surrounding community. It’s anticipated site work could begin this fall.
“4Roots will be a place where thought leaders from around the world converge to challenge the norm and explore new ideas and innovations for building a sustainable food system and restoring a harmonistic relationship with the land,” said John Rivers, founder and CEO of 4Roots and 4 Rivers. “Our vigorous pursuit of advancements in regenerative farming, culinary medicine, soil health, food science, and community health will create a world-class showcase on the art and science of agriculture, and our vital relationship with nature.”
The 4Roots Farm Campus will focus on creating a sustainable regional food system to tackle food waste, farmland erosion, farmer declines, and local hunger. By partnering with leading organizations to create agricultural education initiatives, 4Roots will inspire the next generation of agricultural professionals and generate awareness around the relationship between community health and the food we eat. Features will include a discovery center, convention and event barn, teaching/demo kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant, community greens for farmers markets, concerts, art expos, and flexible classrooms.
“When we donated land for the park to the City, the original intent for the southern portion was to include a site for educational farming, agriculture and more,” said Ken Robinson, president/CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities, the community builder for The Packing District. “The vision we have seen from John and his team truly shows the passion, commitment and shared values in creating a campus that aligns with our focus on building health, wellness and community throughout the district.”
Dr. Phillips Charities has committed $1 million to the development of the farm campus which will be located within The Packing District, a $700 million community development project currently underway near College Park in Orlando. The site is part of the original 104 acres gifted to the City of Orlando by Dr. Phillips Charities in 2018 to develop a regional park that would serve as a hub for wellness programs and provide a site for amenities, including the city’s tennis center, bike trails, running trails and more.
4Roots is an Orlando-based nonprofit community alliance founded by Chef John Rivers of the 4R Restaurant Group, dedicated to building a better food future and ending food insecurity in our community. In 2019, the organization began laying the foundation for its farm campus in the heart of Orlando to serve as a community crossroads where individuals and organizations work together to engage a holistic approach to food systems change, focusing on health, education, economic development, and sustainability.
In March 2020, 4Roots and 4 Rivers came together to launch its Feed the Need Florida initiative to help fill meal gaps for students, families and others in need across our Florida communities as a result of COVID-19. Since the effort began, the initiative has served more than one million meals across the state and preserved or created more than 320 jobs.