Sustainable Living: Sweetwater Organic Community Farm

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Sweetwater Organic Farm in Tampa. By Sean Kinane.

This Monday we talked with Chris and Joni Kendrick from Sweetwater Organic co-op farm in Tampa Fl. We addressed food and farm equity, and the teaching, planting, and sharing organic edible food in a co-op Urban farm atmosphere.

About Our Guests

Chris gained farming experience thru WWOOFing in Australia from 2007-2008 on three different farms after attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and receiving a B.B.A with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and real estate.  Chris attended Janesville Parker High School and was a member of F.F.A. from 1999-2002, where he went to State Championship dairy judging with his team and led farm tours for elementary students for Rock County Farm days.

Joni has been farming in the Tampa Bay region for the past 6 years under the guidance and mentorship of local urban agriculture experts, notably Rick Martinez, founder of Sweetwater farm and owner at Organic Integrity.  In 2018 Joni earned her Permaculture Design Certification locally in Tampa. Joni holds a B.F.A degree from Northern Kentucky University with an area of concentration in plant ecology.  Joni has WWOOF experience on organic farms in Australia in 2000 and Canada in 2007.

About Sweetwater Organic Community Farm

For the past 4 years, Joni and Chris have been farming at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm in Tampa Florida.

Sweetwater Organic Community Farm was established in 1995 as a non-profit community-supported urban organic farm and environmental education center in Tampa, Florida. It is located on 7 acres of suburban property along the Sweetwater Creek in Tampa’s Town ‘n’ Country neighborhood, in Hillsborough County, Florida.

It is the oldest CSA organic farm in Florida.

On the farm they operate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership program, Sweetwater Sunday Farmers’ Market and Music Series open to the public, educational field trip programs for visiting groups, farm tours, workshops, outdoor movies, seasonal events, volunteer opportunities and more!

A few years ago, the farm was almost lost and sold to developers. People banded together to save it and now the goal is to pay off the mortgage and save it as a farm forever. The works are coming to fruition as the county has promised $250,000 to be used this year to help pay down the debt and created a “Pave the Way to your Forever Farm”.

The seasonal market starts Sunday October 30th! The market starts at 10:00 and the music starts with music by our own REVEREND BILLY C WIRTZ!!!!!!

Responsibilities for the farm

Chris is the Director of the farm and oversees all aspects of the farm including finances, business partnerships, educational programs, produce sales, events as well as assisting Joni. Joni is the head farmer. She is responsible for all daily operations of the farm including crop planning production, greenhouse equipment, cultivation, harvest, and marketing. Both Joni and Chris manage 3 onsite apprentices, and up to 6 seasonal part time interns and weekly volunteers. Sweetwater Organic Community Farm offers a CSA share and a weekly seasonal market onsite with numerous additional vendors, music, and workshops.

Chris and Joni have visited and toured over 30 farms like their no till bio intensive model, in the US, and Europe, and Frith Farm in Maine, and studied books by each of those farmers, all with small scale biointentise market/CSA mixed vegetable production farms. They have also participated in over 400 hours of workshops and classes online and in person locally pertaining to small, diversified vegetable growing practices.

Through our hands-on programs, visitors of all ages discover the wonders of nature, explore ecological interconnections, practice appropriate land stewardship and master sustainable agriculture techniques. Our farm provides the freshest possible organic vegetables and herbs for hundreds of Tampa Bay residents each year.

At Sweetwater, community members come together to grow and enjoy fresh organic food, acquire sustainable living skills, support local agriculture, enjoy nature, make new friends and be a part of the community.

Helpful Links:

Sweetwater Organic Farm membership

Sweetwater Organic Farm website

Listen to the full show below:

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