ARDEN FARM CERTIFIED, NEARS FIRST HARVEST
As planned community takes shape, farm prepares to deliver its first produce.
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.”
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.
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.