Sow and Reap

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Since 1989, FreshMinistries, a non-profit, interfaith organization, has focused on promoting sustainability and defeating hunger in Jacksonville. Its latest program is designed to help other organizations build farms and training centers as social enterprises.

In February, the group began work on a 6,000- square-foot organic greenhouse and aquaponics complex at the Weaver Center. “It’s designed to educate in topics surrounding healthy eating habits, childhood obesity and urban farming,” says Bobby Lee, FreshMinistries director of urban farming. “We also hope to eliminate the city’s food deserts.”

Aquaponics combines the farming of fish and plants, allowing crops to grow more quickly and requiring a fraction of the water needed in a traditional soil-based system. Because crops are raised in growth beds, aquaponic farm systems may be built on non-traditional farming areas such as rooftops.

The FreshMinistries aquaponics greenhouse is set to harvest by early August. By then, the organization hopes to host tours for the public.