When HACFL partnered with A|P Communities to develop the Northwest Gardens Sustainable Neighborhood, the intention was to develop and design the property in a mindful manner to be conducive for future community initiatives. During the site planning of phase five of the development, the developers realized they had more land than necessary for their required density. With this in mind, they set aside a portion of the site for a future urban infill pocket park.
In late 2017, the HACFL sought to shift the plan for this park from an infill pocket park to a fruit orchard. This change was meant to supplement the existing neighborhood community vegetable gardens with fresh fruit produce from an orchard. With this new initiative, the HACFL applied and received an award of 15 fruit trees from The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, an award-winning international nonprofit charity dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to alleviate world hunger, combat climate change, strengthen communities, and improve the surrounding air, soil, and water.
“As you know, this particular neighborhood has faced disenfranchisement for many years, but we have been able to change that with our sustainability, health & wellness, and equitability model,” said Scott Strawbridge, director of Development and Facilities of the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale. “We currently have over 1,200 vegetable plants growing in our community gardens, and we are excited to expand the community’s food resources with these fruit trees. Not many affordable housings have a varied garden as we do, and we are proud to be able to provide that to our residents.”
Once complete the orchard will include jackfruit, starfruit, lychee nut, mango, banana, avocado, mamey, and miracle fruit trees, and will be yet another amenity in the Northwest Gardens neighborhood that furthers the HACFL’s original goal for this large scale public housing redevelopment they began over 10 years ago: to cultivate a neighborhood empowered with opportunity, where living and working in the community become tied together, growing food, sustainable construction, and learning about ways each person can improve their community and their planet.