Urban farms provide fresh produce during coronavirus pandemic

Zion Farms provided truck beds full of produce to charities in Orlando

ORLANDO, Fla. – Urban farms on neighborhood street corners and rooftops have been a source for fresh produce during the coronavirus pandemic.

For several months, food banks have seen long lines as people in Central Florida, and across the state, have struggled to pay their bills.

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders never stopped the essential work being done at the South Street Farm in West Orlando.

“What we’re trying to do here is use a lot, inside of the city of Orlando that wasn’t being used for anything,” Daniel Friedline, City of Orlando Sustainability Program manager said.

For about five years Friedline and his team with the City of Orlando’s office of sustainability and resilience have worked to turn empty lots into fields of fresh food.

“It’s Florida, it’s hot, it rains a lot, we get a lot of rain, so it takes an immense amount of weeding,” Friedline said.

The urban farms rely heavily on volunteers, which Friedline admits has been an extra challenge during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s limited us in the number of volunteers that we can have and so really right now we’re just relying on city staff to be able to come out, " Friedline said.

Even with some limitations, the team and the support of Infinite Zion Farms, has provided truck beds full of fresh produce to charities that have been delivering to seniors in Orlando.

"Oftentimes it's hard for the elderly to be able to get out during this time, or they just don't have the finances to be able to go out and get fresh produce," Friedline said.

From collards to onions, okra, and lettuce, urban farms have become an essential resource for healthy foods.

“For me, it’s a really great opportunity to I think to showcase what the city of Orlando is doing as a whole, and for our ability to support our communities no matter if it’s quarantine or it’s a normal day-to-day basis,” Friedline said.

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