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Sweetwater Organic Community Farm reopens after Tampa Bay residents raise $100,000 to save it

Amanda Hull and Lauren Miller work on a field owned by Sweetwater Organic Farm’s in Tampa on Thursday, February 27, 2014. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
Amanda Hull and Lauren Miller work on a field owned by Sweetwater Organic Farm’s in Tampa on Thursday, February 27, 2014. EVE EDELHEIT | Times
Published Apr. 5, 2019

How sweet it is. Tampa Bay's oldest farmers' market Sweetwater Organic Community Farm has opened its doors again, after announcing in January that it was shutting down.

"Sweetwater Organic Community Farm has come back to life!" a press release from the farm reads. A fervent fundraising campaign helped raise $100,000 for the community-supported farm based in Tampa.

When they announced the farm's owners annouced its closure earlier this year, Sweetwater's board members said they were "actively marketing Sweetwater for sale to organizations with a similar mission or commitment to organic farming/living in order to repay outstanding loans/shares/expenses."

It seems they found a way.

A new board of directors has been assembled, led by locals Chris Kenrick and Joni Spencer, who helped create the St. Peace House Co-op, a cooperative housing project in St. Petersburg. The two led the community fundraising effort to reopen Sweetwater.

"In Sweetwater, the two see an ideal opportunity to expand on the mission and are thankful for the trust from the farm's founder Rick Martinez, for making the farm available and not selling it to developers," the press release said.

Martinez started Sweetwater in 1993, and helped introduce organic farming, and the idea of purchasing an annual share of a farm and getting a weekly produce haul, to Tampa Bay residents.

The farm's popular Sunday market will start up again on April 7, and later this month on April 27, the Pesto Festo dinner will serve as the first event for the newly reinstated agriculture business.