The mission of the Florida West Coast RC&D is to promote and create a sustainable local food and agriculture economy. VISION: Keeping Agriculture in the Community with consideration to the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources, improvement of the general level of economic activity, and the enhancement of the environment and standard of living MISSION: To Create an Entrepreneurial Local Food and Agriculture Economy while working to maintain and improve surface and groundwater quality, the quality of life in the communities we serve, and maintaining, improving, and sustaining native habitats in our area. Working towards keeping agriculture in the community in the following four mission area elements: land conservation, water management, community development, and environmental enhancement. The Florida West Coast Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to create entrepreneurial local food and agriculture economies in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. Florida West Coast RC&D was formed in 1999 by a group of community leaders to improve the quality of life in their community. In 2005 the organization focused on local food and sustainable agriculture to address a gap in local services. The initial group of community leaders that formed the not-for-profit Florida West Coast RC&D Council also submitted an application to the US Department of Agriculture to receive assistance through the RC&D program under the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The application for designation of the Florida West Coast RC&D Area, covering Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties was approved by the USDA in 2000. The control of the RC&D Council rests with the local Board of Directors that focus on local priorities the RC&D Council remains independent as a non-profit 501c(3). There are nearly 400 independently operated RC&Ds around the country.
Impact Summary from the Nonprofit The Geraldson Community Farm Barn was completed in 2011 and several successful events held including member potlucks, Eat Local Week Kickoff Celebration April 2012, a barn dance open to the public and members March 2012, and a Sunday Farmers Market initiated in February 2012 featuring only local products. The Geraldson Community Farm Barn is a community-gathering place to discover the benefits of sustainable living - eating and buying local. The Gamble Creek Center for Integrated Agriculture is being built with anticipated occupancy in September 2012. The Center will have a meeting room and be available for teaching beginning farmers and the general public about Best Management Practices in Agriculture, water conservation, risk management for farmers, marketing and hydroponic growing. Space and utilities connections will be in place for a future commercial kitchen to be used by the community. Even before the facility was built we put up tents and held a successful Teacher Training for agriculture teachers in our 4-county service area in May 2012. Goals for the upcoming year: Develop site-specific education programs for each farm - school children need to understand that their food doesn't come from the supermarket. The benefit of a local farm is we can demonstrate first-hand local production of vegetable crops and the science involved in this process. Install a commercial kitchen in the Gamble Creek facility to allow small producers a space to create value-added products from local farms and gardens which meet state and federal food safety standards. Maintain our apprentice program to give hands-on experience and business training to beginning farmers. Install a walk-in cooler at Geraldson Community Farm for use by the community and to hold extra produce for market and the local food banks.Continue development of Geraldson Community Farm as a community gathering place by adding public restrooms, a community garden, and a native ornamental garden space.
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