Two Problems, One Solution

Problem #1

Our current food system is full of inefficiencies many of which stem from fossil fuel use during production and transportation.

  • The typical American meal travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table.
  • In the US, we put 10 calories of fossil fuel energy in for every calorie of food that we get out.

Problem #2

Lawns are one of the largest sources of pollution in the US

  • With 40 million acres under cultivation, they absorb three million tons of chemical fertilizers and 30,000 tons of pesticides, and use 800 million gallons of gasoline for mowing per year.

The Solution

Fleet Farming transforms unproductive, wasteful lawns into community-driven urban farm plots. Rather than traveling 1,500 miles from farm to plate, our produce is hyper-local. Everything we grow is sold at local farmers markets and restaurants within a 5 mile radius!

Our bike-powered fleet eliminates nearly all fossil fuel consumption during production and transportation, not to mention it reduces the emissions that would have been produced from mowing lawns. Lastly, we are reducing pollutants in our community by cutting the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers on lawns and using organic methods to grow food instead.

Our Story

Orlando, FL – In December 2013, John Rife, owner of East End Market, first pitched the idea of Fleet Farming at The Hive Orlando, an IDEAS For Us “think and do tank” that calls on citizens to come up with solutions to global challenges. Over the next few months, Rife and other members of IDEAS For Us streamlined the concept.

In February 2014, The Fleet Farming pilot program converted 5 lawns to farmlettes. By summer of that year, Healthy Central Florida Foundation had awarded the program a $5,000 grant to help it expand. By January 2015, the program had received an additional $10k in grants from 1% For the Planet and the Cliff Bar Foundation. In August 2015, Fleet Farming Orlando was on its way to having 15 farmlettes and had sold over $7,000 in produce. Without considering any of the grants received, Fleet Farming recouped all start up costs in the first year and profited. A true success story!

Meet Our Team

Heather Grove
Heather GroveCo-Founder & Advisor
After interning with the USDA, researching food systems in Central Florida and abroad, Heather returned to her hometown to help rebuild Orlando’s local food system in 2011. Heather co-created Stetson University’s garden and farmers market and served as the founding Community Director of East End Market. She now works on sustainable agriculture and rural development projects abroad while helping to establish new branches of Fleet Farming around the world.

Favorite Fleet Green: Scarlet Frills

Chris Castro
Chris CastroCo-Founder & Advisor
Chris, IDEAS For Us’ Founder, is a community organizer and sustainability professional with a passion for accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy. He’s currently the senior adviser for Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando, developing policies and programs to support the sustainability, energy & climate-related goals of the Green Works Orlando municipal and community action plans.

Favorite Fleet Green: Sorrel

John Rife
John RifeInspiration for Fleet Farming
East End Market owner and Urban Farmer, John is native to Central Florida and a passionate supporter of the small businesses and food entrepreneurs that are making the area a vibrant and tasty place to live. He presented the concept of Fleet Farming at IDEAS Orlando Hive in December 2013.

Favorite Fleet Green: Tuscano Kale

Caroline Chomanics
Caroline ChomanicsProgram Manager, Orlando Branch
Caroline uses her experience as the Horticultural Specialist and Caretaker at Nehrling Gardens to grow healthy produce for the Fleet Farming community. With a degree in Landscape & Horticulture Technology (2016) from Valencia College, she is an Environmental Educator, mentoring all ages of students through Fleet’s Swarm Rides, Nehrling Gardens, Orange County Public Schools, and The Florida School of Holistic Living. As the Urban Agriculture Intern at The City of Orlando, she also works with Green Works to create community gardens.

Favorite Fleet Green: Sorrel

Lee Perry
Lee PerryFarming Coordinator, Orlando Branch
Lee is a graduate from UCF for Environmental Science.
Seasonal she teaches at the ecology camp at the Ed Yarborough Geneva Wilderness Area.
She worked on the board of the Native plant society for a year and also educated children while interning at the Environmental Science Center in Seminole county. She grew up in the garden her entire life and plans on dedicating the rest of her life to helping educate communities on how to feed themselves. She believes it is very important to have an emotional and physical connection to nature.

Favorite Fleet Green: Swiss Chard

AJ Azqueta
AJ AzquetaOrlando Installation Coordinator
AJ is a permaculture enthusiast who is currently studying Environmental Studies and Urban Sustainability at Rollins College. He believes urban farming is a crucial part of sustainable living. A Florida native, when AJ is not farming, he enjoys surfing and exploring Florida’s natural preserves. He is experienced in building gardens beds and permaculture designs. AJ is very passionate about preserving the environment and hopes that gardening will help others feel the same way.

Favorite Green: Okinawa Spinach

Justin Vandenbroeck
Justin VandenbroeckOakland Branch Coordinator + IDEAS Board Member
Justin is a renewable energy professional who extends his passion for resilience beyond energy and into food. In college, Justin gained experience through helping run a 1/2 acre urban farm and an at-risk youth gardening program in low-income communities of Tallahassee, Florida. Since moving to the dire food desert of West Oakland, he’s partnered with local stakeholders to establish Fleet Farming Oakland and is responsible for farm management and program coordination.As an early believer in Fleet Farming, Justin has helped raised thousands of dollars for the Orlando and Oakland branches.

Favorite Green: Roquette

Matovu Paul
Matovu PaulUganda Branch Coordinator + IDEAS Chapter Leader
Paul is a professional forester who has worked with thousands of young people to plant trees across Uganda. While at Makerere University, he coordinated the student-run Urban Micro-gardening project under which Paul worked with students of extension agriculture to voluntarily help urban communities make use of their back-yard space to grow organic foods. He later worked with Caritas as an agricultural-livelihood officer, an opportunity he used to teach local communities in central Uganda to practice conservation agriculture. He has wider development models for establishment of the agriculture into sustainable business ideas. He is the coordinator and the brain behind the micro–gardening development and vertical farming in Uganda.

Favorite Green: Amaranth Dubius

Kassie Berger
Kassie BergerWeb Manager
Favorite Fleet Green: Sorel

Our Partners

Our Branches