Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Fruitful Field Community Garden Transforms Lives in Pompano, Fla.

The birds chirp, the sun blazes, and I weed a garden plot at the Fruitful Field Community Garden in Pompano, Florida. There is the constant chatter of a four year old boy, Ryan, by my side. He's here with his Dad, Glenn Monroe, to give them a chance to bond, and to give his Mom a Saturday morning break. They come to the garden every weekend. I'm here just for the day.

Kevin "Flavio" Sloat and Glenn Monroe

Monroe is a hardware engineer for Blackberry. He likes to build things with his hands and is helping design an irrigation system for the garden. He says drip irrigation is exempt from water restriction laws. So, its the best system to put into the garden. There is also an 1100 gallon cistern system linked up and collecting rain water from the roof Parkway United Methodist Church.

Dee and Sonmia Everette

This garden has transformed families, like Dee Everette and her daughter Sonmia, who share a plot with another family. Before the garden, Everette and her husband, a chef, struggled to get their daughter to eat vegetables. Now, Sonmia eats all her vegetables. "I really feel it has connected my daughter with growing and eating vegetables," Everette says. This year they will be growing broccoli, peas, carrots and lettuce. “After we come here we just feel better. It’s kind of like a spa in a way,” Everette adds.

Food Forest's banana plants

The garden also helps homeless families by setting aside land for food pantry growing. "We like the idea of getting fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet," says Kevin “Flavio” Sloat, Executive Director and Founding Member of the Fruitful Field. He says many homeless children never get access to fresh fruit. The food forest, based on permaculture techniques, helps with this. "We have over 60 tropical fruit trees growing year round in our food forest," Flavio says.

Green Papaya curry

While standing in-line to get my serving of green papaya curry made with fruit from the garden's food forest, I meet Cara Sadler and her brother Jeff. Everyone who volunteers their time on the special volunteer workdays gets lunch. Often it is made with fruits and vegetables from the garden.

Jeff is a long time friend of Flavio. He met Flavio and his wife Beth, over two years ago at a dinner party. Flavio was looking for help with the Fruitful Field Community garden. Jeff helps with fundraising event like the annual Afternoon Tea event. "It is a reward to present to the community and to see them buy in," Jeff says.

His sister Cara has been to the garden four to five times, "I love the gardening part. It puts everything in perspective." She used to live in Tampa, where she was a member of a community garden. 

Flavio pointing to one of the Food Pantry areas

The garden has changing many people and families for the better but it doesn’t stop there. Fruitful Field needs help to continue in their mission of helping people. They would like to see more done in the garden like expanding their ability to supply food to food pantries but that would require a dedicated farmer. “There’s a budget for equipment but not for labor,” Flavio says.

So, if you can spare the time, and you like the outdoors, and food made with local seasonal ingredients, then this is the garden for you. The garden is located at 100 NE 44th Street, Pompano Beach, FL 33064. You can also follow them on Facebook at

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