Members & Volunteers at one of the Campesinos' Gardens
Fellsmere, FL. was the first site of the Campesinos' Gardens model (formerly known as the Fellsmere Community Garden). In 2009 Yolanda Gomez, Community Organizer with the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF), along with several community members worked together to talk to the Mayor and City Council members about the idea of a community garden in Fellsmere, Fl.
They ultimately secured the commitment of four parcels of land (each roughly 75' x 100'), owned by the City, to use for community garden sites. During the first year and a half, the community and FWAF did not have dedicated resources to support the garden. Still, community members were determined to move forward with the garden project. During this time they received training and support from Rural Coalition (RC) and National Immigrant Farming Initiative (NIFI) on how to structure the garden and set up member responsibilities. Community members also received training on organic production sponsored by the City of Fellsmere.
At the end of 2010, FWAF received notification of a grant awarded to them by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support the Campesinos’ Gardens project. In November of 2010, FWAF hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the first parcel of the community garden, at which community members worked together to build a hoop house and to plant the first seeds and seedlings.
Since the opening of the first garden site, garden members, supporters and volunteers have received training and support from RC, NIFI, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Homegrown Delights, and Flats Mentor Farms. They have also received a lot of training and support from the local Extension Office of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The group has visited many other community gardens and small farms in other areas of Florida as well.
The Fellsmere Campesinos' Gardens currently include two garden locations in Fellsmere which are member run and are also supported (through volunteer labor and other support) by some local churches, the local chapter of Slow Food, and the National Farm Worker Ministry's Youth & Young Adult Network.
How We Operate
The Campesinos’ Gardens in Fellsmere have more than 20 families involved, some of whom work on a shared garden site together, and others who garden in individual plots. A 10-member decision-making committee, comprised of the garden founders and other leaders, governs the garden. Garden members include multi-ethnic community members, as well as youth members through the Boys and Girls Club and the local elementary school.
The produce from the gardens reaches approximately 100 families annually. The shared garden produces excess fruits, vegetables, and herbs, and since mid-2013 the garden members have experimented with selling garden baskets to community members and supporters, selling to local ethnic food stores and restaurants, and selling at the Fellsmere Farmer's Market and Mercado.