By: Alex Toth and Steven Thompson
Down to Earth Farm teaches Jax how to live off the land
A farm probably isn’t high on the list of things one would expect to see in a big city, but in Jacksonville, it’s just a few minutes from downtown.
Down to Earth Farm is a non-profit farm located on the westside of Jacksonville. It’s owned and operated by Brian and Kristin Lapinski, who have run the farm out of their backyard since they founded it in 2007.
The Lapinskis grow a multitude of fresh vegetables at the farm, including tomatoes, peppers, green beans, broccoli, and cabbage, as well as many others. They also grow flowers, which they use to make bouquets.
Down to Earth features animals as well. Chickens, turkeys, and pigs can all be found in the coops behind the Lapinskis’ home.
But why did two Jacksonville natives decide to start a farm all by themselves? According to Brian Lapinski, it’s all to help their local community live more sustainably.
“When my wife and I started the farm, one of the things that we noted was that there wasn’t much agriculture in the community,” Lapinski said. “We thought it’d be important to have somewhere for people to understand about agriculture, and– in this particular climate and this soil– what it means to grow your food.”
The Lapinskis also refrain from using any chemical pesticides or herbicides at Down to Earth Farm. Their goal is to grow their vegetables in a way that is gentle on the planet, while still being healthy and delicious.
But where do these vegetables go after they’re grown? The Lapinskis use much of their produce to provide fresh food to the community. They sell their vegetables and bouquets at several farmers markets around Jacksonville. Some of the biggest markets they sell at include the Green Market in Neptune Beach and the Riverside Arts Market.
The Riverside Arts Market is Lapinski’s personal favorite place to sell Down to Earth’s produce. “It’s a dynamic, fun market that has a number of producers,” he said. The market happens on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. under the Fuller Warren Bridge on Riverside Avenue.
The market days also offer ample opportunity for members of the local community to interact with the producers. Lapinski believes that one of the most valuable aspects of local farms and farmers markets is the ability to connect and converse with the people who grew the food.
Since Down to Earth is a non-profit organization, they are always looking for volunteers to help them grow and maintain their produce. The Lapinskis also hope to teach anyone who volunteers about how they can grow their own food.
“I want to help build a stronger community,” Lapinski said. “And that includes teaching our neighbors about healthy living.”
Anyone interested in learning how to live more sustainably, or just providing a helping hand to a local farm, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.