“I’m thrilled that this historic treasure will now be put to good use as a job-creation center in the heart of Redland,” said Commissioner Levine Cava. “We are creating a culinary incubator for our future chefs, a production facility for our small farmers looking to diversify, and a significant cultural space for our community.”
The South Florida Pioneer Museum, the nonprofit that has taken the Farm Life School project under its wing, has a vision and business plan to repurpose the old schoolhouse as a center of farming commerce, culinary education, and community activity. Pioneer Museum Board member Barbara Hanck stressed that we must not forget the school’s historic significance as we move it into the future. The new plans to establish it as a culinary center will be a modern-day fulfillment of its original mission as a farm life school.
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava has been working for several years with the Pioneer Museum, County Agricultural Manager Charles LaPradd, and practically every agricultural organization in Miami-Dade to advance the plans for the Center as a hub for agricultural innovation, job creation, and as a way to create deeper bonds between local restaurants and local growers.
“The funding allocated to the Redland Farm Life School will allow it to serve the family farmers in Miami-Dade as agriculture continues to evolve,” said Dade County Farm Bureau Executive Director Jorge Abreu, “This facility will be a great tool to help kick-start new farm ventures.”
Debra Allan, owner of Sweet Delights Bakery, recently testified at committee about how her tiny home business was able to grow and hire people through the Redland Community Market run by “Redland Ahead” which has also partnered with the Pioneer Museum on the Redland Farm Life Center project.
John Mills, President of Redland Ahead, said the commercial kitchens envisioned for Redland Farm Life Center will help recover more locally grown food and have less food waste, increase the profitability of farms and sustain the use of our farmland. Redland Ahead is a non-profit company with a mission to support Florida International University’s Veterans to Farmers program.
The biggest challenge has been the need to find the resources to build out the interior of the school building which, while the exterior of the structure was restored, lacked the funding needed to make the space useable. That was until this week when the Board of County Commissioners unanimously supported Commissioner Levine Cava’s resolution allocating $1.6 million to fund the interior renovation.
“I want to thank my colleagues for supporting the vision we have for the Redland Farm Life Center and seeing the value in investing in new business opportunities for South Dade.”