SARASOTA, Fla. – The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s (SarasotaChamber.com) 2016 Leadership Sarasota County class has selected Easter Seals Southwest Florida as the recipient of its annual class project and will enhance and enrich the nonprofit’s Academy Farms organic farm.
Work on the project, dubbed Academy Farms: Project Grow!, began late last month. During the four-month effort, the 2016 class will add plumbing to the three existing hoop houses, install concrete walkways to allow for easier wheelchair access, transport garden and compost areas and provide outdoor wash stations. The project was selected after the 2016 class toured the Easter Seals of Southwest Florida campus and its organic farm last fall. A grand reveal is tentatively scheduled for April 22, 2016, which is also Earth Day.
“We are very grateful to the 2016 Leadership Sarasota County class for electing to further cultivate our organic garden,” said Tom Waters, president and CEO of Easter Seals Southwest Florida. “The improvements to our Academy Farms gardens will allow us to increase our gardening efforts, but most importantly, our students will continue to learn how to plant, nurture and harvest the vegetables while generating revenue for the program.”
Easter Seals Southwest Florida’s Academy Farms is a 100 percent USDA organic-certified herb garden, entirely operated by its students and staff. In 2012, the nonprofit received a donation of a single hoop house. Since then, the farm has grown to three hoop houses, and 30 earth boxes with over a dozen types of herbs and vegetables.
Academy Farms herbs are sold to local restaurants, including Arts & Eats, Melange, Eat Here, Beach Bistro and Jack Dusty at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. All proceeds from the purchase benefit the mission of Academy Farms, which is to combine teaching necessary life skills with revenue generation.
Established in 1984, the Leadership Sarasota County program is designed to nurture and engage the leadership skills of potential and current leaders by providing an atmosphere that stimulates and fosters diverse viewpoints, resulting in innovative answers to the critical questions facing our community. The program strives to create awareness and to connect leaders with issues.
For more information on the project, visit http://easterseals-swfl.org/project-grow-an-initiative-of-leadership-sarasota-2016/. For a full list of the 2016 Leadership Sarasota County class, visit http://www.sarasotachamber.com/External/WCPages/WCWebContent/WebContentPage.aspx?ContentID=2178.
About Sarasota Chamber of Commerce
Established in 1921, the award-winning not-for-profit membership organization provides the leadership to achieve a diverse balanced economy that enhances the quality of living and working in greater Sarasota. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s dynamic group of 1,500 member companies and organizations recognize the value of working together to accomplish what no single member could hope to achieve individually. For more information, visit www.SarasotaChamber.com.
About Easter Seals Southwest Florida
Easter Seals Southwest Florida has been part of our community for 65 years. The nonprofit offers the highest quality of care and services to children, youth and adults with special needs so that they can enjoy access, opportunities and increased life choices. Easter Seals Southwest Florida is committed to remaining a leader in special needs services – an organization to which individuals and their families can turn to for resources and support with a continuum of care throughout their lives. For more information, visit www.EasterSeals-SWFL.org.