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2013 Award of Merit - Bedner Farms
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Project Category:  Preservation/Conservation

Project Name:  Bedner Farms

Project Location:  10066 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, FL 33473

Date of Completion:  November, 2010

Landscape Architect: Jeffrey Brophy, ASLA, Land Design South

(www.landdesignsouth.com) 

Owner: Bedner Farms, Inc.

Landscape Contractor: Master Gardners


Bedner Farms demonstrates that innovative land use policies and site design can achieve a symbiotic balance between natural, agricultural and built environments.  This was achieved by the Landscape Architect leading a collaborative effort between government agencies and community groups to set new rules and regulations to create a first of its kind 'land use' that centers on agri-tourism and sustainable agriculture practices.

Sustainable agriculture is a way of producing food that’s healthy to eat, doesn’t harm the environment, creates a safe work place, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer and promotes a more intimate involvement with food purchases, encouraging consumers to interact with those who cultivate, grow and ultimately sell the produce. This unique agri-experience provides the availability of fresh, local produce, while ensuring the preservation and commercial viability of farmland through education and community involvement. 

The 80 acre Bedner Farms, family owned and operated for over 50 years is located within the Palm Beach County Agricultural Reserve (AR). The original intent of the AR was to encourage the preservation of farmland.  Through the years, changes to County policies have allowed for the encroachment of development into the AR resulting in a dramatic reduction of farmland.  As pressure for available land continues to grow, attempts have been made to further diminish the AR policies to allow for continued development. 

In order for farming in the AR to remain a viable business and not be influenced by the pressures of development dollars, the Landscape Architect developed new land use code and design regulations that 1) Preserves farmland in perpetuity; 2) Provides a retail opportunity for the farmer to sell locally grown produce to the public; 3) Offers educational opportunities and community events that further supports the conservation of sustainable farming in the County.  

The Bedner Farms location is unique in that it is nestled directly adjacent to the entrance of the 221 sq. mile Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.  Many species of wildlife within the refuge travel across and through the farm including alligators, otters, egrets, ibis and herons.  To reduce the environmental impact to the site, the design and construction of the commercial market was purposefully placed as far from the refuge as possible. This location allowed the farm to create a focal entry point for the public to visit without an impact to the refuge. 

Preservation considerations also led the Landscape Architect to design a minimum site size, utilizing only what was needed to adequately support the market in order to maximize the amount of preserved farmland.  The retail development area therefore represents only 8% of the total land area of the farm.  The remaining land will now be preserved as active farmland.  The Landscape Architect designed the site to have active rows of crops close to the retail market for ease of public access and to solidify the concept that farmland and the retail market can and should interact with one another. 

From a design perspective the Landscape Architect focused on maintaining the rural theme of the farm through the use of wide, native planted buffers, extensive use of flowering trees and shrubs and the creation of public open space areas for community gatherings.  An authentically constructed Seminole Indian Chickee Hut was designed to allow for covered gatherings, as well as providing a space for educational opportunities.  Pervious surface areas were kept to a minimum to lessen water run-off thereby increasing green space. 

Open gathering spaces, ADA accessible walkways and thematic directional signage allows the farm to engage the community in events at the farm. School and community tours take students through the 80 acre farm and describe the agricultural history of the area and educates on the importance of sustainable farming.  Tours include a visit to the neighboring wildlife refuge where students learn how the balance of natural and built environments is being achieved.  The farm also hosts popular community events that include seasonal 'u-pick' days, weekend and holiday family activities, field gleaning and outreach programs. 

Bedner Farms is a project that preserves farmland, conserves sustainable farming practices, educates the public, and provides for a community gathering space while securing the financial viability of the farm.  It is a proven example of how a Landscape Architect can be the lead professional in a collaborative effort of planning and design, successfully achieving a balance between diverse environments and stakeholders.

Credits:

Public Planner: William Cross, Palm Beach County Zoning Department

 Architect / Contractor: Craig Rudolph, Morton Buildings, Inc. 

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MISSION STATEMENT Leading, educating, and participating in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.
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