SmartFarm Update

Update to the Update! We’ve gone a different direction for the farm – read about it here, see all the Urban Farm updates here.


This, my friends, is the future home of the SmartFarm. There’s not much there now, but that right there is about 10-acres. A whole lot of land to develop! The property is fenced in to keep the cows off the property — yes the cattle like to roam around and I hear that they are pretty curious creatures.

Here’s the left side …..which pretty much looks the same as the front.

And the right side with a light pole right smack dab where we wanted the entrance to be. Beyond that….way back there is an elementary school, which in a week will be filled with itty bitty children and future gardeners.

So this summer has been quite eventful – in between all the traveling adventures, the SmartFarm team has been in meetings….

after meetings…..

after meetings….

….learning all that we can about building a farm, city codes and permitting, creating a nonprofit, fundraising, pole barn architecture, drainage, wells and community farming! WHEW! It just makes my head spin!

We’re so thankful for the some of these community leaders for so generously giving their time and expertise to our project, patiently answering our 50,001 questions. Most people that we met with and talked to this summer said the same thing to us.

You can’t do this in October in 3 days.

But WHY?

Of course I have to ask why, it’s in my nature to never accept no for an answer….and if it’s still a no, I’ll find a way around it.

I’m difficult like that.

Until I heard one question that stopped me dead in my tracks.

The lovely Marilyn Howard of the Manatee Community Foundation asked us, “So what’s your 50-year plan?”

50-years!???? Honey, I barely can plan for next month.

I’ve never been a long range planner. Some people have 5-year plans, 10-year plans, even 25-year plans.

That’s not to say that I don’t plan at all. Quite contrary. I create vision boards and draw out business strategies…but generally they are 3-5 year plans. Life changes too fast to plan for any longer! I mean, who knew 3 1/2 years ago that Steamy Kitchen would be this crazy adventure? I’m not the type that socks away the maximum every year for my Roth IRA either, but you probably have already guessed that.

“Well, you’re building a sustainable farm, right? That means it should be in existence in 50 years.”



Yeah, you’re right.

So that brought us back to the drawing board, because she’s right….they are all right.

In my world, I’m used to idea! quick! build! bam! done. If I want to tell the world how I feel – my speedy-Gonzales fingers can type it in 3 seconds and submit to Twitter. Email takes me 15 seconds to respond. A blog post just a few hours. Fried rice in 8 minutes. Miso soup in 5. A flyer designed in 30 minutes. A cookbook in 2 years.

My world is fast. And it’s because I always find a way around the no — do you feel sorry for my parents when I was younger?! πŸ˜‰

But this time, I think no is the right answer.

No, this SmartFarm can’t be built in 3 days because it deserves better than that. It deserves better than to be just another project or media blitz. The farm is for the people who live here now, as well as the community who will live here in 50 years.

Don’t you think that’s the right thing to do?

That being said, we still are groundbreaking this October, building out the SmartFarm in phases. The first phase will be the children’s garden, large vegetable beds, family plots to rent and dabble in a bit of aquaponics. I’m also hoping to have the hen-house set up as well, it would be fun to show the kids that eggs don’t just come from a carton! And in the meantime, we’re working on our business plan — our 1 year plan all the way up to — you got it — what it would look like in 50 years.