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.

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Comments 25

  1. kamran siddiqi

    Jaden, I still don’t know how you do it, but you do! For me everything takes a heck of a long time (maybe you should send me some of your speediness!).

    I think what you are doing is amazing, and however long it takes to build 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months- whatever, I know that your plan for the next 50 years for this SmartFarm will be great!

    Keep being awesome! πŸ™‚

  2. Angie

    I completely think your doing the right thing! A 50 year plan? If asked that I would be stunned too. I’m pretty short term too, I have no idea what the next year will bring, and like it that way.

  3. Cookin Canuck

    I am really looking forward to watching the development of the Smartfarm through your posts. From all of the work and planning going into this, it certainly sounds as though this is a project that could be sustained and treasured by the community for 50 years and more.

  4. Murasaki Shikibu

    Even though my parents were both agricultural scientists, the whole thing about feeding the soil and keeping it healthy just like we need to feed ourselves or other living creatures has only clicked in my mind recently.

    Plants live on nutrients from the soil, water and the sun and although we don’t think about it much, it’s obviously sucking the soil dry of all the good stuff, so we need to feed the soil with compost!

    I guess that’s what your dear advisers meant when they mentioned sustainable farming. Gotta make sure the soil stays healthy.

    You can see short term effects of what happens when you just keep letting a plant feed off a small amount of soil in a small pot. The nutrients will run out quickly and the plant itself will become malnourished.

    When the soil is depleted of certain nutrients, plants can get sick too. Both humans and plants for example can suffer from side effects if there is a zinc deficiency, among other things.

    Any farmers reading this will probably laugh at the ignorance of the more educated types. πŸ˜‰

  5. Michelle

    This is so awesome that it really does deserve a slower pace and the strongest foundation it can have. I’m looking forward to following the progress of SmartFarm!

  6. Lynn

    Even though the slow pace must be making you nuts, when it’s finally done and done right, you will look around you in wonder and know that it was all worth it!

  7. Cajun Chef Ryan

    Jaden, this is a wonderful project, and it looks like plans are progressing, though slowly, I am sure every step forward is going to make a big difference down the road.

    Bon appetit!

  8. Tickled Red

    I am enamored of your Smart Farm love and yes as a fellow think on me feet, plan some but not to far…no is the right answer this time. But you already know that. I am so excited for you though and can’t wait to pour over each phase post. It will be rewarding to see how it develops and is entrusted to each generation; to be treasured by all involved and for those of us tagging along for the adventure.

  9. Carol Peterman

    Getting it right at the start is one of the best ways to ensure you create something that will be a permanent part of your community. What a great question to really bring into focus the purpose of the project.

  10. Ti

    It’s funny to think of “building” a farm. I’ve never considered building a farm from scratch. To me, it’s more of a living, breathing thing…you groom it, coax it…give it what it needs to thrive. The 50 year plan goes right along with that. As difficult as the question may be to answer, it’s an important one.


    This makes me think of our church building project. There are soo many little steps and hurdles to cross, but its all well worth it in the end. What a cool project to be a part of.

  12. Kim in MD

    I think the SmartFarm is an AWESOME idea, and it shouldn’t be rushed! Get it right for future generations to come…great job, Jaden! πŸ™‚

  13. scrapper al

    Glad to see an update on the Farm. Kudos to Marilyn Howard for bringing up an important question and kudos to you for considering it.

  14. G.

    i love reading the updates about this remarkably wonderful, inspiring project! you are amazing, jaden.

  15. Bridget

    GOOD FOR YOU!! and CONGRATS on your new venture!!

    50 years is a long time and my people think in generations so it’s not that long πŸ˜‰ It’s all perspective.

    Thank you for sharing your inspirational post.

    Bridget Davis ~ The Internet Chef
    Sydney [Australia]

  16. Pingback: Our first fundraiser! : SmartFarm at Lakewood Ranch

  17. Brendan

    Making progress on the Smart Farm! So awesome. It will totally be worth all the hard work. Plus, you’re lucky to live in such a warm area – you’ll be able to make full use of the weather and grow whatever you want!

  18. Liam OMalley

    I think your comments about the 50-yr plan are totally on point, and I’m really enjoying seeing this thing come to fruition. I can’t wait to see some pictures from October!

  19. Amber DeGrace

    Wow, such a great idea and exciting project! There are quite a few community farms in my area – Lancaster, PA – and we’re blessed to have such fertile earth, ready for planting. Good luck in your farming endeavors and I can’t wait to read the updates!

  20. AGinTO

    a 50-year plan makes sense! I’m a small business owner and something I once read really woke me up to do short-term, and various long-term goals. “Failing to plan, is planning to fail”. And if you don’t know what goals you want to reach, you’ll never know if what you’re doing is successful.

    Make a 5-year plan, a 10-year plan, a 20-year plan too!

    Goddess Jewelry

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