Introduction to the Coalition of Community Gardens Tampa Bay

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It was very rewarding to meet people from all over Florida, working in a wide range of overlapping fields at the recent Florida Food Policy Council. The Coalition of Community Gardens – Tampa Bay attended for the first time and looks forward to introducing ourselves to you. We are a network of 25+ community gardens in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. Our mission is to support the success of community gardening. We meet quarterly to visit each other’s gardens and to share information. Find more information on our website: www.coalitionofcommunitygardens.weebly.com

The Coalition of Community Gardens – Tampa Bay is a partner in the Healthiest Cities/Counties Challenge which is sponsored by the American Public Health Association and funded by the Aetna Foundation. 50 Cities/Counties were awarded the opportunity to participate in this challenge to improve the health of our community. We have been working to establish community gardens in the areas in the city of Tampa which are considered by the USDA to be “food deserts”. We recently held Pop Up Garden Events to boost awareness and enthusiasm in two identified neighborhoods. (pictures attached).

The Coalition of Community Gardens – Tampa Bay held the first annual conference on Growing Community Gardens this past April. Save the date for the second conference, April 5-7, 2019. Rick Martinez, respected founder of the Sweetwater Farms, Community Supported Agriculture, will be the keynote speaker.
Central to the mission of our challenge is engaging the larger system of food access in our region. We are looking forward to collaborating and supporting the Florida Food Policy Council.
Kitty Wallace
Coalition of Community Gardens – Tampa Bay

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Press Release from Kai-Kai Farm

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The Kai-Kai owners are learning what it takes to build a licensed commercial (farm) kitchen on well and septic in a Florida county which historically has opposed any commercial development in areas zoned “agricultural”. Florida Agritourism Law 570-85 FS has started the conversation about food hubs and food processing on farms. The major hurdles are rules for septic tank construction designed for urban uses like restaurants. Other challenges include occupancy of public spaces by customers and this relates to the Florida Fire Code. Finally, a public water supply system is necessary and expensive; these are regulated by FDEP. Probably the biggest planning/permitting obstacle is relating farm water use of a kitchen, which may or may not include restaurant-like services, to Florida Rule 64E-6 “Standards for OSTDS”. A significant amount of regulatory discretion lies in the county office of the Florida Department of Health. There are no categories that fit a food processing farm kitchen. If there is disagreement with the local health official it is unclear what if any appeal process to Tallahassee exists. Unfortunately, all this interaction with multiple agencies turns out to be quite expensive; this helps explain why few small farms ever attempt a licensed commercial kitchen on well and septic.