By Meredith Burow
Little girls sporting faux holly crowns and little boys munching on homemade caramel corn scurried around vendor booths Saturday, Dec. 9 as bushels of bundled-up locals braved the cold and flocked to “Christmas on the Farm” at You Farm, a newly created hydroponics farm off Seminole Pratt Whitney Road, just north of Southern Blvd.
The event, which featured a Christmas concert, hayrides, a bonfire, marshmallows, local art, and a petting zoo with goats, horses, chicks and turkeys, started as a desire for the You Farm family to celebrate Christmas together.
“It was simply an event that started as something small to be able to bring friends and family over with chairs and blankets and do a Christmas service on the farm,” You Farm founder Stefan Horbonis said.
The idea quickly grew into a full-blown, community-wide affair.
All monetary donations to the farm Saturday night, and in general, go to You Farm’s mission, a nonprofit organization designed to create modern-day farms inside shipping containers through hydroponic farming, and then ship them to developing nations. The event was completely free-of-charge to visitors.
“We just came for the fun,” said Jennifer Weaver, a homeschool mother of six. “It’s neat.”
The occasion was appealing to the children as well. Motioning to one of her older daughters, Weaver said, “Someone did not want to come.”
She was met with a resounding, “I didn’t know there was a petting zoo!”
Weaver was impressed by how inexpensive the handmade art was. “Usually vendors are more expensive, but they’re very reasonable [here],” she said.
Christmas on the Farm was also an inexpensive opportunity for new and seasoned vendors to find extra cash and new customers.
“The fee wasn’t that much to get in,” said Diane Sousa, who sold ocean-themed, “upcycled” art, such as seashell sun-catchers.
This was Sousa’s first time selling her art in any kind of craft fair, having decided to participate after seeing the event listed on Nextdoor, a neighborhood notifications app.
Facebook also played a large role in participation, with more than 1,090 Facebook users marking themselves as “interested” in Christmas on the Farm’s Facebook event page, and more than 150 people marking themselves as “going,” the affair was no longer a twinkle in Horbonis’ eye.
“God’s now sitting in front of me saying, ‘You can’t think small with me,’” Horbonis said. “’You’ve got to think bigger.’”