Florida School of Holistic Living, an Orlando-based 501c3, that founded Homegrown Co-op in 2007. With a mission to cultivate sustainable communities, FSHL sponsored and incubated the Co-op's growth and operations as a branded initiative project under the school's umbrella for two and half years until the organization was strong enough to stand on its own.
FSHL continues to be a vital player in the continue success of Homegrown Co-op, providing critical help in areas ranging from Marketing, to business development, staff & member education and host for special membership events like movie screenings, workshops and potluck dinners. Many FSHL graduates have found employment with Homegrown Co-op and the two organizations benefit from a shared pool of volunteers sharing the interest to build, sustain and empower sustainable communities.
Our Vital Earth is a vermiculture farm in Apopka, Florida. Our Vital Earth has sponsored Homegrown Co-op with the donation of a $25,000 commercial worm compost machine. This digester breaks down organic waste and turns it into rich organic fertilizer.
Homegrown Co-op is excited to get this valuable assets back up and running during the summer of 2012. We will use the machine to make sure that non of the organic waste generated by our business operation will be wasted simply being dumped at the Orange County landfill. Instead we'll be turning the Co-op's waste stream into vital black topsoil to be used around Central Florida to promote more bountiful harvests. The commercial worm composter will serve as an educational demonstration center to showcase simple sustainable technologies that can make a big impact on reducing our footprint on the environment. Composting is the one human activity which makes the sandy land we live on better than when we found it.
In December 2009 Homegrown was granted a vehicle from 1800CharityCars. The vehicle donation from 1-800Charity Cars has enabled us to further our mission by extending the Co-op’s distribution reach to new organic farms and to expand delivery service to Central Florida communities recognized as “food deserts”. Charity Cars CEO Brian Menzies also directs the non-profit Charity Farms organization. Charity Farms educates and employs disadvantaged people to grow organic food, which is then distributed to the region’s homeless community through local food banks. Their first project farm is located in Kissimmee, and a second educational farm is being developed in Apopka. Exciting potential exists here for collaborative partnership with the Charity Farms organization for additional sources of organic food and educational opportunities for our members.
Struggling families nationwide apply for a free charity car at the organization’s car distribution website www.FreeCharityCars.org. The website was designed to make the process of choosing who receives a free vehicle as fair as possible by providing a forum where individuals can engage the public and pro-actively pursue their dream of car-ownership. The website also provides the charity with the ability to quickly identify qualified recipients and to match each donated vehicle with each prospective applicant’s specific need. Surprisingly, the unique website has organically morphed into an ever expanding online community offering compassion and hope to struggling Americans.
Florida Hospital is working with Homegrown Co-op to integrate a proactive health and wellness program into their modern medical system to help turn around many people's chronic health issues caused by poor diets due to limited access to healthy fresh foods. Inspired by their C.R.E.A.T.I.O.N. Health principles and Healthy 100 initiative, Homegrown Coop was approached by leadership at Florida Hospital during August 2009 to help them develop a benefit program it could offer its nearly 16,000 employees throughout the region.
In support of Homegrown Co-op's mission, a $25,000 matching grant was pledged and secured by the donations of many Central Floridians sharing are vision and mission. In addition to the matching grant, an incubator arrangement was granted by Florida Hospital for use of an abandoned property they owned at 2310 N. Orange Avenue. During this time of economic depression, the eighteen month incubation period was a boost that enabled Homegrown Co-op to move, remodel and feasibly expand operations substantially without debt during 2010.
During the Fall of 2012 we look forward to the start of a pilot program with the Florida Hospital employees working at the Downtown Orlando and Winter Park Hospital Campuses. As a part of their Healthy100 Work Place Initiative, this employee benefit program through Homegrown will ensure hospital employees have convenient workplace access to nutritious fresh foods to support of their long term health and wellness.