Grow Orlando, St. Luke’s UMC start online farmers market selling produce grown by micro-farm network

Organization working with faith-based groups to build farms to fit community needs

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla.St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and Grow Orlando, a nonprofit that helps teach children urban farming and landscaping skills, have started an online farmers market to sell produce grown at their network of mico-farms it helped build.

The micro-farm at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando is part of the church’s “Grow it Forward” initiative, which works “to advance economic and food sovereignty through a self-sustaining micro-farm network, utilizing available land of faith houses and community partners,” according to its website.

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In addition to the produce grown at the micro-farm, the farmers market is also selling mangos from Oxford Farms in Howey In The Hills.

Grow Orlando has also helped to build micro-farms at the Impact Center in Winter Garden run by Finding the Lost Sheep Ministries, Orlando Baptist Temple in Pine Hills, Shepherd’s Hope in Winter Garden and a farm at West Orange High School in Ocoee, according to Ambar Payne, the program coordinator at Grow Orlando, all as part of the organization’s partnership with the Grow It Forward program.

“Once we have veggies, herbs, fruits, etc. growing at our other farms we will add that produce to the website,” Payne said.

Frank Bailey, the founder of Grow Orlando, spoke about his plans to build a network of micro-farms at faith-based locations on a recent episode of Florida Foodie.

“We talk with the community about what they want to grow. We want to engage the youth — particularly in the youth programs — to say ‘we’re going to teach you how to grow it, we’re going to show you how to grow it, you’re going to help us grow it and then you’re going to grow it yourself,’” Bailey said. “The food that’s being grown is going towards that church’s mission. That church’s mission could be to feed the homeless, or it could be to create a sustainable farm for missions or what have you.”

The online farmers market allows people to order online and then pick up their produce at St. Luke’s on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pre-orders for each week are accepted through 5 p.m. on Fridays. For right now, the orders are pick-up only.

“We hope that as we grow that we are able to put together a delivery service or at the very least allow for pick-ups at our other micro-farm locations,” Payne said.

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The farmers market accepts cash and card payments, in addition to Apple and Google Pay.

“We recognize there are farmers markets in the surrounding communities and they work on a much larger scale, but we hope to gain as much traction one day and part of that is staying up to date with our technology and making the shopping experience as easy and seamless as possible for our customers,” Payne said.

All of the proceeds are shared between St. Luke’s and Grow Orlando.

Watch Frank Bailey on Florida Foodie below:


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About the Author:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.