Community gardens are shared spaces used for growing food. In urban areas like ours, where not everyone has the space for planting his own vegetable beds, community gardens can fill a real need. They can support the movement to eat locally, and to grow organically. They can also provide a source of income for neighborhoods and healthy, low cost produce to areas not served by traditional supermarkets.
Locally grown and consumed produce is beneficial to the environment. It has been shown to reduce carbon emissions because less fuel is needed to transport the food long distances to reach consumers, and the addition of vegetated spaces helps to absorb carbon dioxide.
The City of Fort Lauderdale has adopted a process for permitting community gardens, and our goal is to have one in every neighborhood.
Community Gardens vs. Urban Farms
There is a technical difference between community gardens and urban farms. Fort Lauderdale is lucky to have both.
A community garden is public or private land worked by a group of people. Plots are either individual or shared. They may be gardened for free or for a small fee or annual membership. Produce includes vegetables, fruit, herbs or ornamentals. The focus of the garden is on production of food for use or consumption by the neighbors directly involved in its cultivation. The gardens at Riverland Park and Kennedy Homes are examples of community gardens.
Urban farms can grow the same sort of produce, but they may specialize in one or a few varieties or delve into raising animals or beekeeping at the discretion of private owners. Urban farms may be singly owned or owned cooperatively, and they are zoned differently from community gardens. Produce is usually raised for the purpose of direct sale to the surrounding community or distribution to local restaurants and markets. Because they are businesses, investments in innovative or experimental equipment, such as hydroponic tanks, is common. Most urban farms are very engaged in their communities, offering educational opportunities, hosting charitable events, and employing local residents. Fort Lauderdale's Marando Farms is a fine example of an urban farm.
Participants in community gardens and owners of urban farms both tend to be proponents of sustainable agriculture. They usually utilize organic gardening practices such as composting food waste, and in our area they tend to employ Florida-friendly techniques such as collecting and reusing rainwater and integrated pest management.
Both types are considered urban agriculture, which is different from the concept of a farmer's market. Markets do not necessarily engage in growing produce, and instead are formed for the purpose of selling it. Farmers markets are an important addition to a local economy, and they can be supportive of sustainable activity when they promote the sale of local food and crafts, especially those that are sustainably produced.
How to Start a Garden in Your Neighborhood
The City of Fort Lauderdale has officially endorsed the development of urban agriculture with the intention of promoting local food production for local consumption and promoting the health, environmental and economic benefits of having such uses. In July of 2012, the City Commission approved an Urban Agriculture Ordinance. This ordinance amends the City's Land Development Regulations to allow the construction of urban farms and community gardens.
The City’s urban agriculture ordinance intends to restore agricultural business to the local economy and to bring fresh produce to those areas where the population may not have the means to obtain it. Start by submitting a site plan review application for your garden or farm to our Department of Sustainable Development.
Where are Fort Lauderdale's Gardens and Farms?
We are compiling a directory of local gardens, farms and markets. Please check our listing in process on our Local Farms, Gardens and Markets webpage. If you do not see your favorite spot, click on the Feedback link above and submit the following information.
- Name of Community Garden, Urban Farm or Farmers Market
- Street address
- Contact name and phone number
- Note if it is open to the public or not
Our Sustainability Coordinator will contact the owners or administrators of the garden, farm or market to verify information and obtain permission to list it on our website. Once that process has been completed, it will be added to our Urban Agriculture map.