With health at the forefront of our mission, the 4R Foundation is committed to engaging our communities with their food system, increasing access to healthy food options, and social inspiration to make healthy choices.
4R Farms is an innovative approach to enhancing the local food system in Central Florida through healthy food production and education. We have partnered with University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF IFAS), Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), and the 4R Restaurant Group to build and operate a hydroponic farm, food processing center, and educational facility. The ultimate goal of this project is to foster healthier lifestyles while facilitating local economic growth.
MINISTRY & DONATION \\ In support of 4R Farms’ focus on community improvement, several ministry and donation opportunities will be made available. Currently, philanthropic efforts are being developed to provide low-income neighborhoods and SNAP eligible families affordable produce through the farm.
INNOVATION \\ 4R Farms will employ an innovative approach to farming. We have engineered an original hydroponic grow system for the farm which will maximize food crop production using minimal land. This innovative system will offer several advantages compared to traditional soil based farming. Reduced water consumption, advanced environmental control, and annual growing capabilities all contribute to better tasting, sustainable, and economically friendly fresh food for the community. Ongoing research will be conducted to perfect these progressive farming techniques as the farm expands its produce variety and increases production.
EDUCATION \\ 4R Farms will direct various agricultural training programs. These programs will focus their coursework on subjects such as progressive farming techniques, agriculture business, entrepreneurship, and healthy food cooking and preparation. Local farmers and interested community members can participate and benefit from the educational resources at 4R Farms. Experienced farmers will be provided the resource to learn advanced farming methods, while beginner farmers will receive the proper training needed to enter the agricultural workforce.
FARM TO SCHOOL \\ 4R Farms will cultivate and process healthy, safe edible crops. Operation of its hydroponic farm, as well as its food-processing center, garners the farm’s ability to grow and distribute fresh produce to local businesses and organizations. This produce will be distributed to OCPS to provide key ingredients for their student meals and encourages the opportunity to collaborate with other local organizations.
LOCAL ECONOMIC GROWTH \\ 4R Farms will create substantial economic improvement in Central Florida. Purchasing the farm’s produce enhances the velocity of Central Florida’s agriculture market by retaining the circulation of money within the community. Likewise, 4R Farms will generate numerous job opportunities while producing a skilled workforce needed to fulfill those jobs.
SCHOOL GREENHOUSE PROJECT
The Foundation has also partnered with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF IFAS) and Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) to develop the curriculum for and conduct an agriculture elective program in three Central Florida high schools. This partnership will create a platform for ongoing study, teaching and research in the areas of agriculture, botany, business, logistics, entrepreneurship, cooking, and food preparation.
Employing progressive farming techniques, students will engage in a hands on learning experience with state of the art hydroponic systems. The produce grown in the school greenhouses will be processed onsite, by students, and served in their own school lunches. Currently, Ocoee High School has been designated to launch this program beginning with the 2016-17 school year. At least two other high schools will follow once the Ocoee program is in full operation.
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