The Urban Farming Institute is more than just an urban farm, market warehouse, resource center, and community garden. It’s a place where Jon, Ian, volunteers, students, gardeners, farmers, and a flock of incredible people banding together to germinate, swap ideas and trade dirt (tips and tricks), plant, harvest, and most of all build.
They building a culture. A culture of learning. Learning how to grow healthy, delicious foods-not going to find tasty food like this in big brand stores.
The UFI is a place to come to get away from your cell phone, your computer, your desk and experience the simplicity of rural living in an urban setting–even if it is just for an afternoon.
Yet, under the sun-kissed coconut palms of South Florida, the Urban Farming Institute, UFI we call it, lovingly nurtures and provides their community with seeds from organically-fed veggies, fruits, and herbs, garden and farm supplies for both traditional and hydroponic techniques. All for you to dress your garden or indoor horticultural habitat.
Their instruction and guidance for both the urban farmer and gardens for schools embody their commitment – long before it was commonplace – to sustainability and harmony of nature and urban health. Even now, Jon, Ian, and their local neo-agriculturists get their hands ‘dirty’ sowing a wealth of delicate leafy greens, veggies of all varieties, but also, rare and sought after heirlooms.
[IMAGE HERE WITH CAPTION – Grocery stores, eat your heart out! Grown on the UFI Discovery and Community Gardens]
For decades, as young people have been leaving farms behind, the average age of the American farmer has been rising. The last time the government counted farms, in 2002, the average farmer was 55-years-old.
But there’s a modern surge of youthful vigor into American agriculture and urban farming — at least in the corner of it devoted to organic, local foods. Thousands of young people who’ve never farmed before are trying it out on their condo balconies, urban backyards, and right into the home itself.
Some of these young farmers already have their own farms. Some are student and teachers, parents and grandparents or apprentices, working on more established farms patio gardens. And others are still just thinking about it. And all want to cultivate without toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides used on our food around the world.
Locals come to the UFI master skills — from seminars on soil fertility, local planting schedules, and how to successfully grow from seed to table — and just as importantly, to meet others with the same beliefs and goals. It’s not uncommon to pull up a chair and have a jabber anytime of the day with those on the farm.
The Urban Farming Institute and its society represent a new breed of farmer-urban farmer, child educators, and chefs. Very few of them grew up on farms. And now, they want to grow vegetables, or substantially feed their families with fresh, organic cuisine-come check out Ian Wolinski skillfully craft a savory dish with fresh ingredients handpicked from the farm.
[IMAGE HERE WITH CAPTION – X and X are XXXXX and have started their own urban garden. “Farming isn’t to make a living for and family and I,” X says. “It’s to create a positive lifestyle from myself and for the people in my community”.]
On a given day, UFI talks about what they promise to accomplish.
“It was born out of a concern for the environment and for the future of our children and their education,” says Jon Albee, Founder of the Urban Farming Institute. “I spent what seems like countless years in my professional career with one goal in mind – basically, how can I have the greatest impact in my life for others in this world. And the thing that I kept coming back to, that everyone connected to, was healthy foods and how to learn to grow my own food and the food for others. Have you ever sampled a tasting of real, fresh honey straight from a apiary [honey bee hive]? This is what i’m talking about. This is just one of the things about urban farming our children need to know.”
Others say that they simply enjoy the work, the style of agrarian life, and the connection to food.
“I feel lost when I’m not farming, when I’m not out in the garden. It’s where I find the most peace and harmony in my life,” says Jack Macaluso, who is the president and graphic designer of the Swagger Group, steps away from the sun-drenched beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“When I look around, and I’m amongst the plants and the sunshine. I’m around like-mind individuals – that’s my ‘second’ office, that’s where I want to be when I’m not working and want to have fun with my family,” said Jack, who grows food in the UFI Community Garden and in his family’s backyard garden.