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May 31, 2021

Stewarding a Fragile Ecosystem at Fat Beet Farm

What happens when a chef and an avid gardener—with four energetic kids—buy a marginal piece of coastal land in Tampa Bay, Florida? For the Curci family, the result turns out to be an ever-evolving farm, kitchen, bakery, and education space. “With our family’s background in the food industry and my love of gardening, we started our vision for a fully sustainable farm that brings local produce to the community,” Jen Curci says.  

Fat Beet Farm is so close to the coast that when digging for a well, the family could only find saltwater. The property contains wetlands right in the middle: not what most would consider desirable farmland. The constraints, however, only lead to creative solutions for the farm family. And the sensitive ecosystem requires sustainability in how the land is stewarded.  

A Brighter Future Fund grant supported Fat Beet Farm in developing plans and infrastructure to manage the land in a way that is sustainable for the farm and the environment. American Farmland Trust, with the help of Tillamook Creamery, launched the Brighter Future Fund to support farmers in the face of pressing challenges like climate change and COVID-19.  

As the family learned to bio-digest food waste and collect rain in barrels for irrigation, community education rose to the forefront of their vision for the farm. They manage a microgreens enterprise and a new farm store and bakery where they offer family meals from the farm to go. Their dietician daughter helps educate customers about the nutritional value of the products. And they don’t stop at food—they also offer tours, yoga classes, and field-trip opportunities.   

To help make their challenging ecosystem more productive, the Curcis also designed a native plants food forest. The forest will produce more food during the lull of the Florida summer heat, generating greater year-round income opportunities.  

Visit fatbeetfarm.com to learn more about this unique Tampa farm. 

Brighter Future Fund

Informed by farmers, built on experience, and inspired by you. AFT’s Brighter Future Fund carries forward AFT's commitment to addressing inequalities in our agricultural system by providing grants up to $5,000 to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or women farmers nationwide. Help us support another round of inspiring farmers by donating to the fund today! 100% of all funds raised will go directly to farmers to strengthen farm resilience, enhance farm viability, and improve access to land.