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Healthy Harvest Community Farms a success

January 7, 2015
By JOSEPH PEARSON , Lehigh Acres Citizen

It has been an amazing year with many positive accomplishments that we can be proud of. David Deetscreek, chairman of the Board of Healthy Harvest Community Farms, and I spoke recently and both of us have committed ourselves to working even harder for our organization this coming year. We want all who have, and continue to participate, know how much we appreciate your efforts. The community's support is driving us to make 2015 more successful, with so many possible opportunities we are looking forward to.

First, I want to share with you who we are and what we have accomplished.

- We are a non-profit with a 501(c)3 status. Our organization' name is Healthy Harvest Community Farms.

- Our idea was to grow vegetables and fruits and to donate 75 percent to the local food banks surrounding our farm's location, which was conceived a year and a half ago.

- Since the idea we have been given many acres of land by David Deetscreek and Mirror Lakes Golf Club in Lehigh Acres and are on our second year donating our harvest to the community.

- The Lee County Sherriff's Office, as well as the Juvenile Justice Center, partnered with us for individuals to pay back their debt to society with us providing a place where they can do their community service. Currently, the city of Fort Myers has no location for the Juvenile Justice Center to offer kids in the city for their community hours.

- The state of Florida has given us land in the city of Fort Myers - approximately two acres - at 2744 Edison Ave. at the Department of Agriculture's State Farmers Market.

- We have partnered with the Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce and American Cancer Society, as well as elementary and high schools and Hodges University, in educating our youth about our food.

- We have provided free Fitness Boot Camp Classes four times per week at our current location for the last nine months

- We deliver wholesome nutritious salads in mason jars, as well as other healthy foods, across Southwest Florida to the public to support our organization.

- We have partnered with many in the media who have joined our cause. Three of our county commissioners have participated and endorsed us, as well as State Rep. Matt Caldwell and State Sen. Lizbeth Benaquisto, and many others who have come out in the political field.

- We put on numerous events - two Casino Night & Art Exhibits and a 5K Walk/Run, as well as a monthly Community Day at the gardens.

- We partnered with Visalus. They donate 30-day supplies of nutritional shakes to children to help fight childhood obesity. They also provide free shakes at two of our weekly classes to help us help adults on their fitness journey.

These are just a few of the fun and amazing opportunities we have been a part of in 2014, and 2015 looks brighter and more exciting than ever.

A few of you know I have been working with Habitat for Humanity for the last few weeks of the holiday season and will continue a few days a week throughout January. This has inspired some of the employees to assist me in building a bamboo village at Healthy Harvest Community Farms.

We started Jan. 3 building bamboo tables for our Farmers Market that we have launched at the gardens. We have gazebos, chairs, tables and other fun structures to put together in the future as well.

Also, this past Saturday, we were part of the World's Largest Simultaneous Group Workout! We were going for the Guinness World record. For every person who signed up and participated, we donated 30 nutritional meals to Healthy Harvest Farms.

We are a Project 10 Kids donation center to help obese children who want to change their lives.

We will fully launch my creation of salads in the mason jars. We are the original creators and distributors in Southwest Florida. There are imitators but none that can compare for the price and the quality - all organic, created out of our farm, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to our organization and education programs.

We started making fitness videos and will continue to for free for all of those who want to live a healthier lifestyle. We are also going to incorporate healthy cooking videos in the near future.

We recently cleared acres in Lehigh and are working them weekly to increase the size of our production to benefit the needy.

Also, we are vigorously searching for sponsors and funding for the Fort Myers location. We want this location producing food for Fort Myers bood banks by March. If you know of anyone interested in helping, ask them to contact me directly. Remember, we are a 501(c)3 which means tax deduction as well as helping the community.

This has been a life changing experience for me and I want to personally thank all of have made this simple idea an amazing opportunity. I want to work harder in the upcoming year but realize all that has been accomplished is due to the efforts of so many. I look forward to working with you and forging new relationships to grow our organization statewide.

Joseph Pearson is the CEO of Healthy Harvest Community Farms, at 670 Milwaukee Blvd.



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