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The City of Orlando is Growing Its Urban Farming Program As Demand for Food Rises During the Pandemic

Photo: Danielle Prieur
Photo: Danielle Prieur

The City of Orlando is expanding its urban farming program in empty lots in Parramore.

Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Regina Hill talked about opening three new urban farms by the fall as they planted peppers in a raised bed at South Street Farm. 

Hill says the community farms will be located near the Callahan Neighborhood Center. 

“Directly across the street you have young African American students that come over here with our Infinite Zion Farms and they come and till the land and they learn about access and how to eat healthy.”

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Ray Warthen founder of Infinite Zion Farms runs the South Street Farm. He says along with the education component, these community gardens are needed to feed residents.

Warthen says during the pandemic, they distributed some 2,000 pounds of food to 100 residents.

“Once COVID-19 hit last year, the demand went to nursing homes, elderly. And we also donated to other nonprofits as well.”

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Warthen who started his business after his dad died from cancer says food can heal.

“And I have a gentleman who lives behind us here who has some ailments. And I make him a kale pina-mite. It’s a kale and pineapple juice. Instead of dynamite I call it pina-mite. So I make a kale apple juice and a kale pineapple juice and the kale’s made right here from the garden.”

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The city will also expand its Parramore Community Garden after receiving a $50,000 dollar grant from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.