4Roots Farm & Agriculture Center is an extension of The 4R Foundation started by John Rivers. Our mission is to create a sustainable local food network to inspire students, support farmers, delight eaters and stimulate the health and economic vitality of our communities. The Farm nurtures this vision by focusing on four roots: access, education, opportunity and impact.
The 4R Foundation’s current initiatives strive to model sustainable local food systems that inspire students, support farmers, delight eaters and stimulate the health and economic vitality of our local communities.
4Roots Farm and Agriculture Center will be a fresh food hub providing produce to select Orange County Public School (OCPS) campuses, 4R Smokehouses, and Florida Hospital locations. The income generated from 4Roots Farm will provide resources for curriculum development and funding for the redevelopment and construction of greenhouses at several OCPS high schools, and will assist the underserved and food desert areas in the Central Florida community. The 4Roots site will include a working lab for students to continue the agricultural education initiated at their schools and serve as a gathering place and training facility for small and mid-sized farmers interested in learning the latest growing techniques.
Community access to farm fresh foods grown responsibly, through:
Growing more growers, through:
Providing new market opportunities for existing and future small-scale farmers, through:
New-farmer Incubation Program
Network Farmer Co-op
Internships & Fellowships
Serving the communities we call home, through:
Scalable Models for Future Growth
Orange County Public Schools (OCPS)
The goal of 4Roots Farm at OCPS high schools is to encourage students to set their sights on careers as farmers, business owners and industry leaders in agriculture and food industries in the State of Florida. As the school farms become established, The 4R Foundation will direct students to the larger 4Roots Farm and Agriculture Center, where they will gain practical work experience and an opportunity to build a career in agriculture. The 4R Foundation will facilitate the success of the OCPS farms by continuing to develop the agriscience curriculum, utilizing the greenhouses as research and development sites for cutting-edge growing technology, and providing speaking opportunities for leaders in agriculture at OCPS schools.
Ocoee High School (OHS)
The 4R Foundations has invested $60,000 to renovate a shade house and a greenhouse in the Horticulture Department at OHS where students can learn more about the food system and their role in it by growing food in-ground and hydroponically. The University of Florida's Family Nutrition Program provides education support to those eligible for the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through a collaboration with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. The program has provided an Agriscience instructor who is encouraged to develop a horticulture curriculum to go alongside its current entrepreneurialism, ag-technology and biotechnology coursework. The next step is to construct a processing facility for cooling and storing the harvested produce in order to provide students with a hands-on experience in food safety, processing, packaging and service. Once this facility is completed, food grown and harvested will be processed and served in the OHS school cafeteria.
Edgewater High School (EHS)
The 4R Foundation is in the planning and implementation stage of a second agriculture training program at Edgewater High School, with a targeted completion date set for Fall 2018. Funds have been committed for the Edgewater High School project from Dr. Phillips Charities, Inc., Kiwanis Club of Orlando Foundation and Florida Blue Foundation. With the addition of a state-of-the-art greenhouse showcasing hydroponic vertical growing methods, EHS will develop a new Horticulture Science Department, which will connect with the school’s Engineering, Science, and Technology Magnet program in order to encourage careers in agriscience.
Collaboration to serve the next generation: