November 8, 2019

Orlando Sentinel: John Rivers unveils 40-acre farm with discovery center, restaurant in Orlando’s Packing District

4Roots Campus Artist Rendering

John Rivers’ vision for 40 acres of land in urban Orlando calls for a farm like few others.

He sees a “discovery center,” a farm-to-table restaurant and an event barn for weddings and other activities.

Rivers, founder of the 4R Foundation and the 4 Rivers Smokehouse chain, revealed specific details about the 4Roots Farm & Agriculture Center on Thursday. The farm is planned for wooded land donated by Dr. Phillips Charities as part of The Packing District development just west of College Park.

“This whole thing is being built to address the food insecurity that we’re facing in Orange County,” Rivers said of the farm’s mission. “It has to start with education.”

He cited information from Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida that one in five children in Central Florida is food insecure.

The campus will host students from Orange County Public Schools, Rivers said, and discussions are taking place with Valencia College to consider moving its agriculture program to the farm.

Educational facilities, including greenhouse and classroom space, will be built first, with land clearing potentially starting in the middle of next year. The rest of the project will be constructed in phases depending on how much money the foundation can raise.

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Orlando Sentinel