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4Roots Farm in Packing District - 18 Acres of Greenhouses, Classrooms and More

Courtesy 4Roots Urban Farm

The City of Orlando at the July 6th council meeting approved a lease between the City of Orlando and 4Roots Foundation, Inc. for the establishment of 4Roots Farm Campus (Website | Facebook | Instagram), an educational farming and agriculture project on city property.

It will be located on an 18 acre site within The Packing District, a $700 million development project currently underway near College Park. The educational farm will be located south of Princeton Street and east of John Young Parkway on the south end a of 104 acre parcel of land donated to the City by Dr Phillips Charities for the development of a regional park.

The first phase of the project is estimated to cost $8 million and will focus mostly on improving the city’s land.

It’s anticipated site work could begin in the Fall. 

About the Project

The 4Roots Farm Campus will grow and harvest fresh produce, but its primary purpose is to showcase and demonstrate a variety of growing techniques to the community with a focus on collaboration with community partners to strengthen the local food system.

The goal of the project is to educate current and future generations about food, farming and ecology, connect personal health to how food is grown, sourced and prepared, train and support Florida’s future farmers, and to demonstrate innovative and sustainable ways to grow food now and in the future.

“4Roots will be a place where thought leaders from around the world converge to challenge the norm and explore new ideas and innovations for building a sustainable food system and restoring a harmonistic relationship with the land,” said 4Roots and 4Rivers CEO John Rivers. “Our vigorous pursuit of advancements in regenerative farming, culinary medicine, soil health, food science, and community health will create a world-class showcase on the art and science of agriculture, and our vital relationship with nature.”

The 4Roots name stands for the four "root" ideals of education, health, economic development, and sustainability.

The campus is to include the construction of 14 structures:

  1. Event Barn - The event barn will adopt many sustainability elements into its design and will resemble a traditional barn with integration to the campus design theme. The event barn will provide a space for conferences, celebrations, and other special events to bring together farmers, students, and other members of the community.

  2. Pergola

  3. Vertical Farming Greenhouse – Living Wall

  4. Hydroponic Greenhouse - 35,000 SF - There will be a hydroponic greenhouse built and run by GrowPonics to showcase innovative, efficient, sustainable growing techniques.

  5. Discovery Center with Farm Store & Café - The discovery center will be open to public visitors, and will have a farm store, café, classrooms, exhibits, offices as well as a food and health innovation lab -- all a benefit to the public with the exception of the offices.

  6. Demonstration Kitchen - The outdoor teaching/demo area will be a small open air element used for demonstrations of farming techniques and food preparation, featuring programs designed for students and the general public to educate and inspire them around growing and preparing healthy food.

  7. Head House

  8. Bathrooms - 1,200 SF

  9. Classrooms - 3,000 SF - The classroom structures will allow 4Roots to host Valencia College’s agriculture program to expand their enrollment and increase their course offerings -- with an enhanced focus on sustainable and urban agriculture topics.

  10. Educational Greenhouse - 12,000 SF

  11. Restaurant - The restaurant is intended to be open to the public for nourishment as well as teaching the benefits of farm to table dining. Guests will enjoy meals designed around seasonal availability of produce and using produce grown on the campus. The same sustainability design strategies utilized in the discovery center will also be applied to the restaurant.

  12. Red Barn

  13. Cottages

  14. Apiary

Other components of the development proposed are:

  1. Surface parking lot

  2. Central Pavilion

  3. Central Green

  4. Welcome Plaza

  5. Raised Garden Beds

  6. Row Crops

  7. Wetland Boardwalk

  8. Boardwalk Connection to City Park

  9. Compost Facilities

  10. Fitness Trail

The parking lot will have a solar canopy shielding light bleed into the parking area and from the nearby community. The intention is to generate as much solar power as possible on and for the campus. The Educational Greenhouse, Hydroponic Greenhouse, and Vertical Greenhouse all are exempt from City zoning regulations including impervious surface ratios, floor-to-area ratio, and parking requirements. In discussions with the City, 4Roots Farm mentioned intentions of including livestock on the property. No livestock is included in the Phase I application.

Conceptual Site Development Plan at Buildout (View Large)

Conceptual Buildout Site Development Plan courtesy 4Roots Farm Campus

Detail of Conceptual Site Development Plan at Build Out

Conceptual Buildout Site Development Plan courtesy 4Roots Farm Campus

Phase One Conceptual Site Development Plan

Phase 1 Conceptual Site Development Plan courtesy 4Roots Farm Campus

The Lease and Other Financials

According to Ken Robinson, president/CEO of Dr. Phillips Charities, the original intent for that 18 acres when they donated it to the City was for "educational farming, agriculture and more." Dr. Phillips Charities required that no rent be collected on the land as part of the donation agreement, so 4Roots will not be paying any rent to the City during the lease. The lease lasts for 25 years and can be extended for three five-year periods. The City will also be reimbursing 4Roots $900,000 towards construction costs due to "the cost of extensive regulatory requirements," according to John Rivers, founder and CEO of 4Roots and 4 Rivers. Dr. Phillips Charities also committed $1 million towards the project themselves.


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