People’s Access To Community Horticulture /Community Agriculture Network (PATCH CAN) is working towards developing a local Community Agriculture Network in South Florida. This project is funded by the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant from the USDA. We also focus on the training, “growing” and promotion of new local food business enterprises.
The PATCH project was developed to bring sustainable agriculture to communities located in food deserts. As the first PATCH began in Dania Beach and as the garden grew in popularity and production, it became evident that the model worked and could be replicated at other sites throughout the region. Designed to be self-reliant and allowing for sustainable community development, PATCH Garden and Market Practices and Procedures are available for almost any plot of land.
The current goal of PATCH CAN is to “grow” a “network” of urban Farms throughout S. Florida and develop a distribution system that provides fresh produce to communities, schools and retail shops as efficiently as possible. A local food system is a term used to describe food produced near the consumer. Broward county is situated between two of the most productive farmland in Florida. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties grew Agricultural products valued at over 1.5 billion dollars in 2007! (PER Florida Dept. of Ag and Consumer Services –do you want link?)
As urban communities continue to grow, it becomes increasingly important to developing a local network of farms and distribution centers. Growing and distributing freshly grown produce helps to alleviate the amount of time and energy used in the processing and transportation and brings more nutritional food to the consumer.
There are several types of food distribution:
Farmer’s Markets- located in communities and not always associated with a local farm
Community Supported Agriculture- members purchase shares in the farmer’s yield. Payment is generally upfront and helps the grower to finance his crops
Buyer’s Clubs- A club whereby members join and have produce delivered to location on a certain day and time.
Retail, Foodservice and Institutional Market
This is a growing and demanding market. This requires additional storing and processing and distribution requirements that are not usually associated with direct to consumer distribution. The PATCH CAN goal is to create a “food hub” whereby small growers have a centralized location to process and distribute their crops.
It is the goal of PATCH CAN to develop a strong distribution network that will provide affordable, locally grown produce to our communities. The development of a commercial distribution platform with allows for success.