This Sunday, December 8th, the Dinner in Paradise series presents the best chefs from the Florida Keys collaborating on a seafood menu. Enjoy five courses paired with fine wine under the stars, set in the lush grounds of an organic farm.
Ocean Reef: Philippe Reynaud
Pierre’s: Jouvens Jean, Joe Wiktorek
Cheeca Lodge: Richard Smith
Taster’s Grill: George Patti
5:00 pm cocktail reception
5:30 pm farm tour
6:00 pm dinner
Each dinner is $165.50 per person + tax and processing. Gift certificates are available.
Reservations are required and can be made online here.
All reservations must be made by Friday at noon, so the staff can harvest accordingly. For more information, contact the farm at 305-248-4181 or email@example.com .
Proceeds from the dinners will benefit, Learning in Paradise, the outreach program that hosts educational field trips to the farm.
Paradise Farms would like to thank the event’s generous, long-term sponsors including Whole Foods, Schnebly Redland’s Winery, Lucini Italia, Brustman Carrino Public Relations, Strategic Importers and Hani’s Mediterranean Organics as well as DIP co-founder Michael Schwartz.
Paradise Farms Organic
19801 S.W. 320th St.
Homestead, Florida 33030
The start of the CSA season couldn’t come soon enough! This summer, even though I tried to shop for local produce at nearby farmers markets, it was all too easy to backslide, and to gradually eat less and less fresh food (other than mangoes, avocados, and salads). Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables. But there’s something about opening up a packed-full box of produce and just diving in.
This Friday, as I set up to take photographs of the shares, I felt that familiar thrill as I opened the first boxes of the season. Oooh, what’s in here? Star fruit, yum! Followed closely by, what am I going to do with fennel? Will I even like it? No matter, I’ll try anything once. And there’s a recipe for caramelized fennel in the CSA newsletter. But still, what do I do with the tops??
If anything, belonging to the CSA has introduced me to new things that I never saw or tasted before. If they weren’t in the box, I would never have tried them or known about them. I remember feeling really adventurous eating black sapote and canistel, and took to saying, “You won’t find that in a grocery store!” Belonging to a CSA delightfully stretched me out of my comfort zone of eating.
Photographing the shares is a great privilege. I get to see in advance what’s in the box, and share it with you on this blog and in the farm newsletter. It amazes me every week how farmer Margie and her crew manage to cram all that goodness into one box. Easy enough to dismantle it all, but don’t ask me to repack it the same way!
Arranging different items for the photograph can be tricky. This week the challenge was — what do I do with the fennel? Its fluffy fronds take up so much space. Does it go in the front? Off to one side? In the back? There’s a lot of tweaking things, and stepping back to peer through the viewfinder. Once it looks right, click click click! What you see is what you’ll get, no faking. The most I’ll do is use some hidden props to hold things in place. No matter what’s in the box, the recurring challenge is, how do I place each item so you can clearly see what it is. The picture has to be distinct in black and white for the printed newsletter, too.
Once a farm volunteer asked me, “Do the veggies speak to you?” Always the smart aleck, I shot back, “Yeah, they say eat me!” She looked disappointed. Truth is, they do speak in a gentle whisper, beseeching like any divalicious model, “Make me look good. I want people to love me.” And I do want them to look attractive, vibrant and three dimensional. It’s my weekly zen practice, as it were.
And then I get to cook and eat my subjects. Fun! Dinner’s ready!
Tropical Cornucopia Farm and Garden Show
Saturday Nov. 2 and Sunday Nov. 3, 2013
10 am to 5 pm
Did you miss out on GrowFest! but still want to get your veggie starter plants? Bee Heaven Farm will be one of the vendors at the the new Tropical Cornucopia festival (which includes a Garden & Green Marketplace) held in Homestead’s historic downtown area.
Here’s another chance to pick up a selection of tomatoes, veggies and herb seedlings for your gardens. Plus, long-awaited strawberry plant starts (they didn’t arrive in time for GrowFest!) and fruit trees.
Farmer Margie Pikarsky will also have first-harvest Redland Raised organic green beans, awesomely sweet carambolas, her own SMOKED Rachel’s Eggs, assorted dried fruits of summer, both “Local Flavors” and “Field to Feast” cookbooks which feature local farmers and recipes, and a few other goodies.
In addition to the Green Marketplace, the Tropical Cornucopia will have a variety of stunning garden exhibits, orchids and other plants for sale, eclectic entertainment, kids’ activities, arts and crafts, and a historic exhibit.
The area itself is a hidden gem with a variety of interesting small shops to browse through, and plenty of nearby mom ‘n pop restaurants to pick from for a delicious lunch: Chefs on the Run, Casita Tejas, NicaMex, Royal Palm Grill, Redland Hotel’s Whistle Stop, and Mamma Mia’s. Save room for dessert at La Michoacana Paleteria, the best tropical fruit ice cream and paleta shop around, located right on Washington Avenue.
Easily-accessed via Metrobus, the busway stop is just steps away from the festival. If you choose to drive, follow the signs for event parking.
Event organized by Redland Tropical Gardens. For more information call 305-247-2016.
Homestead Historic Downtown District
on Washington Ave, 1 block east of Krome (SW 177th Ave.)
at Mowry Drive (SW 320th St.) to Miami-Dade Homestead Campus
(part 2 of 2)
There was plenty at GrowFest! to feed your body, mind and soul. Maybe the best part was all the delicious locavore treats. You could seriously nibble your way from one end of the festival to the other and leave with a full belly.
Front and center, right when you entered the park, was the Urban Oasis Project’s tent where Melissa Contreras, Art Friedrich and Carl Templar set up a mini farmer’s market. Tables were piled with all kinds of fresh local produce in season — starfruit, dragon fruit, longans, jackfruit, okra, eggplant, avocados, tomatoes, baby arugula, seminole pumpkin, plus oyster mushrooms, raw honey, organic rice and heirloom tomato seedlings. If you were hungry, you could dig into an addictive bag of Shawnee’s Greenthumb spirulina popcorn. And, if you’re hungry for knowledge, Melissa’s book “Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in South Florida” is a useful resource geared for South Florida gardener. (You can find it at the Upper Eastside and Southwest farmers markets, or get it on Amazon.)
This year, GrowFest! donated over $1000 to Urban Oasis, and Melissa was thrilled by the gift. “We will use those funds for food and nutrition education at the Verde market,” she said. Her non-profit was recently given a contract to manage the market and farm at Verde Gardens, a low-income housing community in Homestead. Urban Oasis operates several farmers markets in underserved neighborhoods. Event organizer Margie Pikarsky said, “This year I chose Urban Oasis Project for their efforts to bring affordable food to underserved communities. I decided that each year the event will benefit a nonprofit organization which supports/promotes/educates about local food and local agriculture.”
Delicious aromas of wood fired pizza — yes, pizza! — wafted through the festival. Chef Jon Gabino of Three Sisters Farm brought his pizza oven, pizza dough, and carefully stacked wood next to his work table. Jon’s hands danced with circles of dough, and finished pizzas flew out of the oven as fast as he could make them. Rachael Middleton offered roselle and lemongrass teas and jaboticaba sorbet to complete the meal. Pizza is one of many vegetarian dishes that Three Sisters Farm offers on their Saturday night Farm Meal. Nearly everything on the menu is super local, sourced from the farm or growers nearby. Make your reservations online here.
At the demo tent, there was lots of information to feed your mind. Workshops were scheduled through both days on many gardening topics. Urban beekeeper Rigo De La Portilla spoke on backyard beekeeping. He is one of several local beekeepers who captures swarms and home infestations without killing bees. Other popular talks were on plant propagation, growing mangoes, vermicomposting (using red wiggler worms to make compost), raising chickens, and setting up a rain barrel.
No festival is complete with without music. This year, music students from Robert Morgan Educational Center’s string quartet performed on Saturday. They had so much fun last year they came back again, and brought the jazz combo with them. On Sunday, members of the South Florida Bluegrass Society livened things up with their old timey tunes.
The celebrity sighting, as it were, came on Sunday afternoon. As I was hanging out by the Extension tent, Congressman Joe Garcia, accompanied by Kevin Chambliss, sauntered into the park and started greeted people. Everybody ran to take a picture with the congressman. You know that your event is on the map when local politicians come to visit!
GrowFest! will be back at the Fruit and Spice Park next year, bigger and better. See you there!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Art Friedrich, Carl Templar, Congressman Joe Garcia, Florida Keys Sea Salt, Hani Khouri, Jeff Wasielewsky, Jon Gambino, Melissa Contreras, Miguel Bode, Rachael Middleton, Rigo De La Portilla, Robert Morgan Education Center, Rochelois Jams, South Florida Bluegrass Society, Teresa Olczyk, Three Sisters Farm, UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension, Urban Oasis Project |
(part 1 of 2)
Back for its second year this October, GrowFest! was the event for gardeners and locavores. Despite rain on Saturday afternoon and a slow start on Sunday morning, well over 1300 adults and kids came to the Fruit and Spice Park to browse for plants and nosh on good eats. Farmer Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm, who organized the event (along with a group of fantastic volunteers), was delighted that the event is growing.
This year there was a mix of familiar and new vendors and exhibitors, a few less than last year, but each was worth checking out. Gardeners had plenty of plants to look at and buy, locavores found delicious things to taste, and there were plenty of interesting and knowledgeable people to talk to, with a wide variety of demos to attend.
Bee Heaven Farm had its usual sea of organic seedlings. Along with dozens of varieties of heirloom tomatoes, you could also choose from a selection of vegetables, herbs and greens that grow well in our climate and are regularly raised at the farm. In response to customer demand, there were several varieties of eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, Asian greens, and intriguing herbs like lemongrass, curryleaf, turmeric (new this year).
A big thanks to farm employee Luz, intern Nicole, and volunteers Dhilini, Alhen and Holly who were on hand all weekend!
New this year was the addition of Flair’s Fayre line of goat milk products. The husband and wife team of Pat Houle and Dan McGillicuddy, along with their assistant Christine, were on hand with offerings of raw goat milk and cheeses (for pet consumption only), and an assortment of deliciously aromatic soaps that were very popular. All products are made with milk from their small herd of goats.
At the Florida Organic Growers and Consumers Inc. (FOG) tent, folks were selling chilled Uncle Matt’s organic citrus juices and sharing information on organic certification. Marty Mesh, the executive director, returned this year along with several staffers who were thrilled to introduce their newest statewide program, Fresh Access Bucks (FAB).
Staffer Carmen Franz explained that FAB doubles value, up to $20, that SNAP recipients can use to buy Florida grown fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets. So far, FABs are accepted at Urban Oasis Project farmers markets and Bee Heaven Farm (in this area). This new program is funded by a grant from the state agriculture department, and Wholesome Wave, a non-profit which pioneered matching funds. Become a member to help FOG support “a sustainable and just food and farm system for all.”
Farmer Gabriele Marewski of Paradise Farms Organic brought two kinds of salads: cactus salad made with nopalitos, and her signature Baby Brassica Blend which includes a colorful sprinkling of edible flowers. The farm is known for its elegant, gourmet Dinner in Paradise and Brunch in Paradise series, season starting soon.
Edible South Florida magazine debuted their latest issue, which is all about local food. Many local growers and artisans are featured, and if you haunt farmers markets and locavore restaurants and cafes, they may be familiar to you too — Helen Cole’s jerky, Hani’s falafel, and Zak’s bread to name a few. I spotted a picture of farmer Margie on page 23. (Next to it is a brief essay I wrote about Farm Day.) You can pick up a copy for free at Whole Foods, Joanna’s Marketplace and other locations around town.
And the villain of GrowFest! was back for an encore — the Giant African Land Snail (GALS). It’s an invasive species that devours over 500 kinds of plants and is capable of munching stucco off your house. Fully grown, the snail is as big as your hand, and has unique vertical jagged stripes on its shell. If you see a GALS in your yard, absolutely do NOT touch it! Call the state Division of Plant Industry at 888-397-1517 to come get it. These snails can harbor a microscopic nematode that can infect your brain and kill you. Over 131,000 GALS have been located and captured in South Florida in the past two years.
(To be continued…)
Posted in agritourism, events, farmer/grower, food, location, locavore, market, photo | Tagged Arturo Gonzalez, Bee Heaven Farm, Carmen Franz, edible South Florida, Flair's Fayre, Fruit and Spice Park, Gabriele Marewski, Giant African Land Snail, GrowFest!, Margie Pikarsky, Marty Mesh, Steven Green, Urban Oasis Project, Wholesome Wave | 1 Comment »