- Environmentally Conscious
- Agriculturally Innovative
- Being of Service
- Community-Based Gardens
- Learning Focused

Purpose Story

By Program Director, Kim Rillero

There has been a shift over the last century in where people on our planet live. We went from rural, decentralized areas where most people engaged in some sort of agrarian activities to living in centralized towns and cities where we have lost touch with growing our own food. In the United States and with most industrialized nations, agriculture is a commercial activity performed on large scale farms with far fewer people involved. This has become possible with sophisticated farm equipment, transportation improvements and refrigeration. Food is now distributed through grocery stores and restaurants. While this has freed people from manual labor and made more food available, we have lost touch with what is food and how it grows. We also rely on others for food quality and nutrition

Although today’s food is distributed with relative speed, we know that food loses much of its nutritional value within 24 hours of being harvested. The purpose of Urban Farming Education is to empower people to grow their own food in their homes and in institutional settings such as businesses, schools, and shelters.

"The purpose of Urban Farming Education is to empower people to grow their own food in their homes and in institutional settings such as businesses, schools, and shelters."

Our focus at UFE is to grow food in small spaces, in our Urban Environment where most people live. We have developed many farming/gardening techniques and systems to make this process easier with less points of failure. Perhaps what sets us apart from most other garden builders is that we know we all need help learning how to garden and reduce common mistakes. We also want to show off our work to other enthusiasts and share what we have learned. We have started the “community of gardens” as our central program to create a communication hub and safety net. We have expectations that for all the gardens we build, our clients will join the growing group of gardeners. We also welcome any avid gardener to join and share their knowledge and experiences. We have quarterly meetings which we podcast. We discuss what is very current that season but also share tips with each other. Gardeners can share information on where to buy quality seeds and soils as well as other equipment. If a teacher is new to gardening, we want her to know she is not alone. We have many videos; blogs and a bibliography of books and lesson plans we share these resources online. We also have the UFE Academy as a mobile learning center and online presence.

My story comes from having a business for over 20 years conducting team building and philanthropic projects around the world for large corporations. My former partner and I along with multiple volunteers and staff members conducted over 200 events each year. My enjoyment and passion are to have an impact on the community and organizations we are working with. We worked with some of the most recognizable corporations in the world. These events were all about connecting employees to their communities and building a communicative team. They were about philanthropy and employee retainage.

COVID put an end to that and for me I was ready to use those skills in a different way. I had met Mike with Agave Farms as knew him when he was starting his garden building nonprofit outreach. I had a client that I brought in for one of his nonprofit fundraisers and used his garden system with another client in Tucson.

One of the main goals of any of my projects was to have a long-term effect on the people involved in the projects. After working with Mike on several projects and talking to companies about the Urban Farming Education direction, I realized his platform was perfect for the long-term impact I was looking for and how the entire program fits into my personal and professional goals, and the passion to give back. When Mike reached out to me a join UFE it was like we were both on the same page. After a 5-minute phone call we were both committed, and I started in a key position at UFE.

I use my skills of Planning, Organizing and Connection to help combine corporations and organizations to help fight the HUNGER battle. I initially helped with some of the food distributions UFE performed. I started the planning process for my new programs and met the team. After a couple months I managed the end of season celebration for all the volunteers we had used that season. The celebration solidified my resolve, and I now knew this was my mission. There were over 350 volunteers, and the event included the Laveen community, and many politicians and school officials and the founder of School Connect.

With the power of community, academia and with dedicated corporate citizens, I know our platform will effect positive change and I expect to see our business model go national and international. Specifically, the community of gardens and UFE academy will be a powerful core element of that success.