(1) Does the homeowner get a cut of the profits?
While the homeowner does not get a cut of Fleet Farming’s profits, they get a share of the produce for their own family’s use, which is probably more valuable in the long run! Organic salad greens go for about $4-4.50 per 1/3# at local groceries, and they have unlimited salad all year long! In addition, the water cost is NEVER over $2/month for irrigation (even during dry times) – a sad but true reality that our precious water resources are not valued more. All of the landowners are glad to offer their property since they typically are paying property tax + lawn maintenance prior to Fleet and they aren’t getting any food in return, so under our farmlette host agreement, the landowner is offering their underutilized (and sometimes misused) land for the production of local food that they too can benefit from.
(2) Why do we charge our farmlette hosts?
If only food was priced higher (a true reflection of its value), then we would properly profit from the sale of produce and wouldn’t have to charge homeowners. Unfortunately, subsidies have skewed the cost of produce and make it impossible for small farmers to make a living, let alone a profit. We have also have 3 employees that run the program and consult with all of our branches around the world. In turn, each farmlette sale helps us spread the program to cities like yours ; )
(3) Where does sales money go?
We currently have 3 employees just at the Orlando chapter, which is a major expense, but also one of our greatest accomplishments – to provide the only 3 paid urban farming positions in our city! Beyond labor, we have materials, compost, and market costs. So, with a few grants and donations sprinkled in we are just about breaking even…another proud point of our 3 year old program! As each branch expands to more plots, the more sustainable it becomes. After you reach about 10,000 sq. ft. of farmlettes, it becomes self-sustaining.
(4) Who’s liable if one is injured on a homeowner’s property?
The one injured is liable. Our landowners sign waivers and agreements before installation, waiving them of any liability. Our employees and every Swarm volunteer signs a waiver as well, relieving any landowner, Fleet, or IDEAS For Us from being liable.
(5) Who sponsors Fleet Farming?
You can find a list of our partners and sponsors at the bottom of the about page.
(6) Is the fleet farming company a non-profit?
We are a social enterprise program of the non-profit IDEAS For Us.
(7) Why don’t the volunteers make a cut of the profits?
We have a couple apprentice volunteers who receive produce in return for a few hours of work per week, and most of those apprentices are also receiving school credit for an internship with Fleet. All of our other volunteers join us for the Swarm Rides at their leisure and with over 200 unique volunteers to date that would be a lot to keep track of. The value they receive from volunteering may not be monetary, but in my opinion it’s way more valuable – It’s learning from our very knowledgable staff how to grow your own food and to not become dependent on the idea that food comes from grocery stores. It comes from farmers and gardeners and we are teaching people that anyone can grow food.
ALL of the money we make goes into the cost of seeds, irrigation supplies, gardening needs and our paid labor. Our Volunteer Swarm Rides (hosted 2x per month Oct-May) definitely help make a dent in our work load, but they are mainly aimed at educating the volunteers on how to farm. One of our main goals is to grow more growers. Creating a gardening community through the Swarm Rides is truly the heart of Fleet Farming.