AR­DEN FARM CER­TI­FIED, NEARS FIRST HAR­VEST

As planned com­mu­nity takes shape, farm pre­pares to de­liver its first pro­duce.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jodie Wag­ner Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

LOXAHATCHEE — Just in time for Thanks­giv­ing, the 5-acre farm at the new Ar­den com­mu­nity west of Lion Coun­try Sa­fari will sprout egg­plant, pep­pers, okra and other fresh pro­duce.

Farm di­rec­tors Car­men Franz and Tripp Eldridge ex­pect a Novem­ber har­vest of the crops they planted last month, which also in­clude herbs, flow­ers and fruit trees.

Those crops will end up on Ar­den res­i­dents’ din­ner ta­bles.

“We’re so ex­cited,” said Franz, who was hired in March along with Eldridge to build Ar­den’s or­ganic farm. “It’s just fan­tas­tic out here.”

Ar­den, a neigh­bor­hood planned by Free­hold Com­mu­ni­ties of Bos­ton, is one of more than 100 through­out the United States — and the only one in South Florida — called an “agri­hood,” or agri­cul­tural neigh­bor­hood.

De­vel­oped to pro­mote healthy liv­ing and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, Ar­den even­tu­ally will in­clude 2,000 homes that will back up to a com­mu­nity green space, in­clud­ing parks, play­fields, green­ways, na­ture trails or lakes.

Nearly 200 of the homes have been sold, an Ar­den spokesper­son said, and new res­i­dents are mov­ing in as their homes are be­ing com­pleted.

Franz said those res­i­dents are ea­ger to par­tic­i­pate in the farm­ing process as well as a va­ri­ety of gar­den-re­lated events she and Eldridge host.

Those events will ex­pand to in­clude work­shops on or­ganic gar­den­ing and flower ar­rang­ing, healthy cook­ing classes and farm­ers mar­kets once the com­mu­nity’s 4,000-square-foot event barn is com­plete, likely at the end of the year.

“Ar­den is meant to be a place to build com­mu­ni­ties and be a cen­ter for health and well­ness,” Franz said.

“Peo­ple can be a part of the grow­ing process and eat the food that comes out of the farm,” she added.

The farm re­cently earned the dis­tinc­tion of Cer­ti­fied Nat­u­rally Grown, mean­ing that it doesn’t use any syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers, pes­ti­cides, her­bi­cides, fungi­cides or ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied seeds.

Ar­den Farm is one of 20 Cer­ti­fied Nat­u­rally Grown farms in Florida and among nearly 800 through­out the United States and Canada.

The CNG pro­gram was de­signed in 2002 to rec­og­nize small-scale farm­ers who prac­tice sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture to pro­duce food for their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

“We’re ex­cited about Cer­ti­fied Nat­u­rally Grown,” Eldridge said. “It’s the grass­roots al­ter­na­tive to the cer­ti­fied or­ganic la­bel. It fit our farm bet­ter than cer­ti­fied or­ganic, which is more suited to re­tail prod­ucts sit­ting on a shelf at Whole Foods. This is more for smaller farm­ers mar­kets or road­side stands. It fit us bet­ter.”

ALLEN EYESTONE PHO­TOS / THE PALM BEACH POST

Car­men Franz (left) and Tripp Eldridge, di­rec­tors of the 5-acre work­ing farm at the Ar­den planned com­mu­nity in Loxahatchee, mix or­ganic-cer­ti­fied com­post into a bed for some peren­nial plant­ings. The farm re­cently re­ceived the Cer­ti­fied Nat­u­rally Grown des­ig­na­tion, and ex­pects its first har­vest next month.

Tomato plants and let­tuce grow at the farm in the Ar­den planned com­mu­nity. The farm uses no syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers, pes­ti­cides, her­bi­cides, fungi­cides or ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied seeds, which has earned it the Cer­ti­fied Nat­u­rally Grown des­ig­na­tion. Ar­den is the only “agri­hood” in South Florida, and is de­signed to pro­mote healthy liv­ing.

ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST

Ar­den Farm di­rec­tors Car­men Franz and Tripp Eldridge weed and thin out okra plants in the master-planned com­mu­nity in Loxahatchee. Ar­den Farm is one of 20 farms in Florida with the Cer­ti­fied Nat­u­rally Grown des­ig­na­tion.

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