Archive for the ‘artist’ Category

A couple months ago, a crop of fresh new market signs popped up at the Bee Heaven Farm tent at Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market. The colorful creations were drawn by Rachel, farmer Margie’s daughter, who is studying illustration arts at SUNY Purchase.

But hurry, you don’t have much time!

This coming Sunday, April 15th, is the last day that Bee Heaven will be at the Pinecrest market. (The market runs through May, but Bee Heaven’s growing season is already winding down.)

It’s also going to be quite the day, with the 3rd Annual Pinecrest Earth Day Festival going on throughout the Gardens. Admission is free.

By the way… these pictures were taken back in January…. so they’re not necessarily representative of what’s in season and available now at market. Different signs will be up, too. Go take a look for yourself!

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The Firework Flower

The Incendiary Blooms of the Guiana Chestnut are hard to miss. Combining arches of vibrant yellow with electric red and white hairs…you could almost call this The Firework Flower.

[Welcome to guest blogger Alex Norelli, contributor to the Organic Gardening blog. Alex is a blogger, poet, and photographer. Here is his view of a month's visit to Redland. - marian33031]

My first introduction to the Redland was through the Fruit and Spice Park, a great place to see the potentials of this land and climate. When I arrived in the Redlands I expected to see an intense iron-colored soil like the almost inhuman Mars-red fields in La Mancha I remember driving through while in Spain. But I didn’t see it in the soil as much as I found it in the air, in a host of blooms and fruit, some edible, others strictly for the eye.

Such Mainifold color, with red at the center.

Such manifold color and form…the red of the flower’s petals contrasting with the green of unripe bananas is an eye-catching combination. The size of this fruit has no equal where I come from, and perhaps only a rose, or cardinal flower, has a comparably red.

Coming from the north and spending nearly my entire life in zone 6, with short forays into other zones, I was in for a wealth of newness. For one thing, fruits and flowers in zone 6 are usually quite reserved, petite and constrained, nonetheless beautiful, but of a different scale. In the sub-tropics, without a winter to hold back growth, there is never a thought for conservation, or preserving energy to make it through a many-month winter. And so things just grow; wildly, gaudily, loudly, abundantly, fruiting multiples times a year. That simple fact allows for a startlingly different display of color than I am used to, and it’s been an eye-opening pleasure encountering it in the last two months.

This Red is otherworldly…This neon red is too bright for my camera to capture in detail, the luminosity of the color is so great it becomes a iridescent smudge of wild color.

Cranberry Hibiscus, An edible red…its leaves can be steeped to make a tart tea high in Vitamin C

A row of edible red/orange marigolds among an impressive selection from Paradise Farms

This purple star apple shows a bit of the red and blue that make up its color

The Strawberry Tree with its Cotton Candy flavored fruit

I am sure the examples of red are more numerous than I have experienced in only one season. I didn’t even hit on the tomatoes, of which the Cherokee has always caught my eye, not to mention they are one of the tastiest you’ll find. I’ve heard the nearly 150 varieties of mango are truly something to taste and see, and I have not spoke of the orchids. The one red I wish I captured was the rosy blush of a ripe mango, but I was too busy eating them to pause to take a photograph, and anyway, the interior is more delicious to the tongue than the exterior to the eye.

Alex Norelli spends his time between Pennsylvania and New York City where he works as a Roof-top gardener and writes poetry and paints. Recently he found himself in South Florida for a time and has set out to see its many wonders with his own brown eyes. You can see some of his works at www.AlexNorelliArt.com

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Vanishing of the Bees, an intriguing new documentary about Colony Collapse Disorder, is back in town for a FREE one-night screening.  

Date: Sunday August 21, 2011
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Location: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road
Coral Gables FL 33156

Back in May, Vanishing of the Bees showed for only one night at the new, state of the art Coral Gables Cinematheque. And it was a good turnout — over 200 people packed the auditorium. Proceeds from that screening went to support Slow Food Miami’s school garden program.

Beekeeper John Herring and filmmaker Maryam Henein at the May screening.

The filmmaker, Maryam Henein, was present to introduce her film and answered questions after the showing. She was accompanied by John Herring, a beekeeper from Broward County, who brought a sample hive and various tools of his trade, who also answered questions about bees. Farmer Margie Pikarsky and interns Mike and Sadie from Bee Heaven Farm came with many boxes of local honey and wildflower bouquets for sale.

Vanishing of the Bees is a real-life mystery story which begins with two commercial beekeepers, David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes, who tell similar stories of how one day they came to check on their hives and found them inexplicably empty. They realized their problem wasn’t only with their hives, or happening in Southwest Florida where they were located. It was a growing, serious problem in 35 states and also in Europe. Bees were either vanishing, or their immune systems were succumbing to all kinds of pathogens. Populations were dying faster than they could be replaced, and nobody knew why. The film goes on a journey that follows David and Dave as they try to solve their mystery, and in the process they discover how they can keep their bees healthy and productive, and their beekeeping businesses alive.

Through the course of researching and making her film, Maryam became a passionate and tireless activist for the honeybee. Her love and concern is clearly apparent in the film, which weaved a magic spell around the audience that night. As the story unfolded, people were pulled in; and at one scene in the middle, you could almost hear a pin drop as facts built up and pointed to the most likely causes of bee die-offs. The camerawork is amazing, bringing you very close to slow-motion bees in mid-flight, and editing and animation are superb.

Support the bees

The film does end on a hopeful note, that it’s not too late for ordinary people to save the honeybee. “Colony Collapse Disorder is a wake up call,” Maryam said after the screening. “There’s a big abyss between the people who know and the people who don’t know. Every one of you is a worker bee” to get out the word and take action.

She mentioned several ways you can help the bees and support your own good health. The easiest thing to do is buy organic produce and local honey. (You can find both at local farmers markets.) Organic farmers are not allowed to use systemic pesticides or other dangerous chemicals that can harm bees. Most organic farms tend to have a happy mix of several kinds of plants that support bees, and most farms keep hives and sell local honey. 

Mike and Margie from Bee Heaven Farm with honey and wildflower bouquets for sale at the screening.

Another simple thing you can do is avoid buying “honey-flavored” breads, cereals and other products. They are sweetened with honey blends imported from China. “Funny honey” is diluted with lactose syrup, high fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners. It is also tainted with strong antibiotics and lead residues. Corporate bakeries — and the film named General Mills and Pillsbury — buy imported honey because it is very cheap. (Real honey costs a lot more because U.S. beekeepers can’t produce enough to meet demand.) 

If you have the space, a fun thing you can do is plant a bee-friendly garden, with an assortment of plants that bloom throughout the year to attract pollinators. Choose low-maintenance native plants and wildflowers, keep fruit trees, or raise vegetables in your garden or in containers on your patio or balcony. Whatever you do, DO NOT use systemic pesticides! Those are the kind that are applied once a season or once a year as a soil drench, and “provide protection without spraying.” Plants suck those chemicals up through their roots, and all their cells and pollen itself become poisoned. Bees then gather tainted pollen, bring it back to their hive, and make themselves very sick from it, sick to the point of death. 

Support the film

Vanishing of the Bees is a completely independent production, and it took a long time and a lot of money to make it happen. From researching and writing the script to the final edit took about four years to make, and it cost half a million dollars. (Just the editing alone took a year and cost a good chunk of money.) Maryam raised funds a little bit at a time, from donations and sponsorships, and they went toward paying film expenses. When she wasn’t filming, she supported herself at times as a waitress, and admitted that for a while she was on food stamps and maxed out credit cards to survive. 

Maryam and her producers are making their money back with donations and DVD sales. Right now, they are running a promotion and selling the DVD on their web site for a reduced price of $14.99 for a personal viewing license. (They might also be selling the DVD at Sunday’s screening.) Maryam wants to get her DVD into schools. “Education is the beginning,” she said. “We are the generation waking up. The change is coming up in the generations behind us.” At the time of the May screening, she needed to raise about $12 thousand to develop a companion study guide. She is self-distributing her film, and is actively seeking venues for future screenings. The next Florida screening is in Tampa on August 29th.

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Seems like gourmet cheesemaker and Mediterranean chef Hani Khouri is all over the place these days. Busy man! Does he ever take a moment to just relax, chill out for a moment, stop and smell the… shisha? Sure he does!

There’s a groovy, laid-back event coming up soon at the Everglades Hostel way down in Florida City. Don’t groan, it’s worth the drive down. Where else would you get a chance to sprawl out on cushions and carpet in the hostel’s gazebo, smoke a hookah and get your hands and feet decorated with traditional henna designs?

And speaking of Hani, he’s bringing the vegetarian feast of: hommos asli (asli means authentic), baba ghanouj asli, tabbouleh asli, felafel asli, tahini sauce, traditional condiments, fresh baked pita bread and fresh goat milk ice cream in various tropical fruit flavors. If you miss buying his ice cream at the farmers market, here’s your chance to enjoy the treat in real Mediterranean style.

For more details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Henna Hookah and Hani
June 12 8 pm – 1 am
Everglades Hostel
20 SW 2 Avenue
Florida City, FL 33034

Call/text Kristin Jayd for more info 305-342-5844 or send her an email at kristinjayd(at)gmail.com .

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The photographer and her work

The photographer and her work. Photo by Margie Pikarsky.

As I entered the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, the sweet, intoxicating scent of jasmine greeted me. Friends were waiting for me at the exhibit, and I was glad they came out to see the art and to show support. Farmer Margie and her husband Nick took turns taking pictures of me with my pictures, and it felt like paparazzi. Now I know what it’s like on the other side of the lens! Margie pointed out that the picture Firebush was hanging right below the sign that said FIRE extinguisher. Hmmm, seems like the people who were hanging the art have a sense of humor, I like that. Robert the Cantankerous Chef also came, and was discussing what kind of caterpillar that was. He thinks it’s a zebra Gulf Fritillary butterfly, and Margie thinks it might be a brown orange julia. [Both caterpillars are quite similar in appearance and both are natives, according to Margie, who looked these things up. Thanks for the fact checking!]

Claire Tomlin of The Market Company (whom I’ve met at the South Florida Farmers Market) provided veggie snacks, and Schnebleys brought a variety of fruit wines. I sampled the avocado wine, and it’s similar to pinot grigio with a whiff of avocado, and it’s actually pretty good. Heard the lychee wine (my favorite) ran out fairly quickly. Hung out till the very end with my friend photographer Mark Diamond, waiting to hear the announcements of the winning artists, including audience choice, but neither us of won anything. Thanks for your votes, it’s all good. I’m glad to be in the show, and hope that more shows are to come.

The pictures look a lot better in person, so if you haven’t seen them and you’re in the area, stop in and take a look for yourself. The show is up for only this week. I’m coming by on Saturday afternoon to pick them up — unless you want to take them home with you…? Let me know…

Botanist Steven Woodmansee wrote about the plants depicted in the art works. Here’s what he wrote about my pieces, which was posted on a card next to them.

1.  Beautyberry  – This photograph depicts one of our showier native flowering plants. American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), and its leaves are aromatic when crushed, although it is not recommended for culinary practices.

However, the clusters of purple fruit do attract birds, especially mockingbirds, who will defend “their” plant from other encroaching birds. It is native to upland habitats including pinelands and hammocks, and prefers full sun.  Branches may be clipped, and used in flower arrangements, as they last several days.  In cultivation, it is best to cutback the plant to one third its size at least once a year.  It is native throughout Florida and portions of the southeastern United States.

2.  Firebush – (Hamelia patens) is a member of the coffee plant family (Rubiaceae).  The showy tubular red flowers attract a plethora of butterflies and hummingbirds (and in this photo, a honey bee).  A favorite for the butterfly garden, firebush flowers year ’round, and grows well in partial shade.

Its fruits are devoured by birds.  It is recommended that for a bushy appearance and longevity, plants be cut back to one third its size at least once per year.  This species is a must for any Florida yard.  It is native across most of peninsular Florida where it can be found in swamps and hammocks.

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Common Roots art show

Common Roots art exhibit

If you’ve been browsing through this blog, you know that I like to take photos at Bee Heaven Farm. In fact, I’ve taken lots and lots of photos there over the last few years. So I’m really happy that two photos of native plants growing at Bee Heaven were accepted into the juried art show, COMMON ROOTS. Come see my “Beautyberry” and “Firebush,” and other beautiful works of art by local artists!

The show isn’t up for very long — it runs Oct 5-10, and the opening reception is on Tuesday Oct. 6th from 7-9 pm at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. If you’ve never been to the garden, you’re missing out on a real treat. It’s a cosy, quiet, green oasis full of plants and sculpture just across the street from the Miami Beach Convention Center.

From the press release:

The COMMON ROOTS art exhibit is all about native plants and how they can build bridges between different cultures! The exhibit presents paintings, weavings, sculpture and photography of local artists who share the ‘Common Roots’ not only of the plants, but of the cultural stories and use of the plants for enjoyment, decoration, building materials, utensils, adornments, foods, medicines, and more.

Arts at St. Johns

The Arts at St Johns, in collaboration with the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, hosts this diverse exhibit that depicts the diversity of native and traditional plants coming from the Caribbean region, including South Florida.

The Curators are Winsome Bolt and Debra Cortese (visual artists) and Carol Hoffman-Guzman (visual artist and project anthropologist). The Project Botanist is Steven Woodmansee, who was born in Miami and has extensive knowledge of the ethnobotany of the Americas.


Oct 7, Wed. 10-12 am – Talk on local native plants, with Steve Woodmansee.
Oct 10, Sat., 10-12 am – Talk about Coastal Native Plants, with Steve Woodmansee.

COMMON ROOTS on Facebook (My images are the first two on page 3 of the Wall.)

For More Information, Contact Arts at St. Johns
email: artsatstjohns@bellsouth.net
phone: 305-613-2325

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leave food to nature

So, we have had a menu made of those magnet words on our book shelf for quite a few years now.

Randomly, as most things happen around here, we decided to change it. So here’s what resulted from the combining of our strange, strange minds.

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