Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Healthy Harvest Community Farms an unusual venue

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 8/15/18
A group of women called the Weekend Worriers Team carried the thin blue line police flag in honor of fallen Officer Adam Jobbers- Miller. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY

When I arrived at a run/walk on a recent Saturday to promote and encourage safe behavior when cycling, running and walking I quickly realized this was not a typical 5K. First off, the venue was at an unusual place: a compact community farm that sits on the edge of a golf course that’s no longer being used for that sport but that continues to be maintained by ownership. The next difference was that the run/walk was part of a summer-long series of activities offered by a nonprofit community farm, not your usual sponsors of such things.
I first learned about Healthy Harvest Community Farms ( and its Summer of Fit Festival Series at a Healthy Lee ( meeting in July when Joe Pearson and Virginia Lesko from the organization told the group about its efforts that go far beyond the Summer of Fit activities. It’s no surprise that most of what they do revolves around growing and distributing healthy food products (mostly at no cost to recipients) but the physical activity element and their community focus were what interested me enough to venture out very early that Saturday morning to their eastern Lehigh Acres location. It was well worth the 4 a.m. wake-up alarm.

As expected, being a mid-summer run/walk that was taking place quite a distance away from most population centers, the number of participants was modest. But all who made it there were enthusiastic. Among those who took part were a group of women running in honor of fallen Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller (the day’s event proceeds went to his fund), local high school cross country runners, and a mom with a gaggle of young kids in tow. The atmosphere was different than most 5Ks in that it was very laidback with a decidedly non-competitive feel. There were no traffic cones, police presence, mile markers, or even a formal finish line other than Joe barking out times as participants crossed the imaginary line. Nonetheless, it looked like everyone had fun and got in their miles, whether running, walking or a combination of both.

The group of women called themselves the Weekend Worriers Team and carried the thin blue line police flag the length of the run. They told me they’re training to take part in November’s New York City Marathon and running to raise money for the Carolyn Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund ( A fundraiser for the Weekend Worriers will be held at Millennial Brewery ( in September so keep an eye out for it.

What’s most impressive to me about this ongoing event, the nonprofit organization, and the location is the unbelievable potential each represent. Although the “farm” is quite compact and resembles more of a large community garden. The fact that it’s on a portion of a now-closed golf course means there may be room to expand exponentially. The course itself is what really stirred my interest because it reminded me of what’s going on in Cape Coral with two big differences: the grounds remain maintained and the ownership sounds to be much more cooperative than the Cape property owners have been.

Mirror Lakes Golf Course manager David Deetscreek was quoted in an April 11 NBC-2 interview ( shortly before its closing in late spring as saying the owners don’t plan on developing residential or commercial buildings on the property. “We want to change the use of the property into something the community can use,” he said. The story goes on to say that some suggested ideas management is looking into are creating a preserve, park-like setting or even a fitness area. “It’s in its infancy. We’ve just made the decision to close it. Now we are investigating the potential uses,” Mr. Deetscreek said.

Talk about potential. If the owners of Mirror Lakes Golf Course go the route of allowing its use for community purposes the possibilities are all positive. Besides there being plenty of space to expand food growing areas it could be a ready-made recreation area the size of a regional park with paved paths already in place. The rolling terrain could also become a high school cross country running mecca like no other in all of Lee County (East Lee County High School is barely a mile away). Should one or more of these conceivable outcomes come to pass the benefits would go well beyond the local Lehigh community.

In the meantime Healthy Harvest Community Farms is always in need of volunteers to work the gardens as well as other tasks required to allow this nonprofit thrive. To see for yourself what’s going on they always welcome visitors, including when they host another Summer of Fit event on Saturday, Sept. 1 Spokesperson Virginia Lesko can be reached at 738-1327 or ¦

- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.