Sowing the Seeds of Sustainable Business in Urban Farming
Lorenza Christian has a passion for urban farming. His vision is to build a rustic, traditional organic farm and to provide easy access to healthy food in Hartford. And Lorenza developed this vision into a sustainable business plan and strategy at the American Job Center’s workshop for those interested in being an entrepreneur. Mike Keiser, who teaches this workshop beams when he talks about Lorenza’s business plan: “His depth of knowledge in the industry and his drive to stay focused and take all the steps necessary to reach his goals are inspiring.” And Lorenza said Mike’s training and mentorship is what keeps him holding course.
It’s all about sustainability. Sustainability in being able to make a solid, reliable income throughout the year, and also in the sustainability in the farm itself. In addition to growing vegetables and herbs, Lorenza wants to create an all-natural environment that includes non-traditional aquaponics – where fish live in an all-natural pond, where the fish waste feeds the plants and where the plants filter the water for the fish. And he wants to do this right in the heart of Hartford. The plans are in place, the land has been secured and he is already on the career pathway to success.
Community partners all play a role. The roots of Lorenza’s business “CT Collards – An Urban Farm” began in the American Job Center's Entrepreneurial program, and were further enhanced when he signed up for Capital Community College's and Knox, Inc.'s introductory urban farming class. He is now a Market Gardener in Knox's more intensive Urban Farming Incubator Program.
The organization's Farm and Grounds Manager, outside trainers and five other Market Gardeners help him strengthen his business savvy, technical skills and marketing experience while growing through all four seasons. Lorenza is learning what works season by season and how to develop value-added products from his goods.
Lorenza is looking to add chickens and honey to his repertoire of farming expertise, is already supplying area Farmer’s Markets and looks to have his farm be a “destination spot” for chefs throughout the region and beyond.
Whether you are farmer, a baker or a candlestick maker – whatever your passion – building your own business may be right for you. The next series of Entrepreneurship Workshops at the American Job Center at 3580 Main Street in Hartford start soon.
If you are interested in the Entrepreneurship program, here is a flyer and video with more information on the Entrepreneurship program: "Be Your Own Boss."
If you are interested in the Urban Farming Incubator Program, contact Sven Pihl at firstname.lastname@example.org.