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Posts Tagged ‘Miguel Bode’

(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.)

Art Friedrich answers questions about tropical fruit.

Art Friedrich answers questions about tropical fruit.

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.”

Chef Jon Gambino makes pizza the way the old Italian guys taught him.

Chef Jon Gambino makes pizza the way the old Italian guys taught him.

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.

Jon Gambino and Rachael Middleton serve up pizza while it's hot.

Jon Gambino and Rachael Middleton serve up pizza while it’s hot.

Beekeeper Rigo Delaportilla tells it like it is.

Beekeeper Rigo Delaportilla tells it like it is.

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.

Robert Morgan Jazz Combo

Robert Morgan Jazz Combo

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.

Cliff and Friends from the South Florida Bluegrass Association

Cliff and Friends from the South Florida Bluegrass Association

Eliza Delaportilla

Eliza Delaportilla with local raw honey, beeswax candles, and some tools of the trade.

Teresa Olczyk and Jeff Wasielewsky from the UF/IFAS Extension office.

Teresa Olczyk and Jeff Wasielewsky from the UF/IFAS Extension office.

Congressman Joe Garcia makes friends with 4-H members.

Congressman Joe Garcia takes a picture with 4-H members.

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!

Cuckita “Cookie” Bellande and her daughter of Rochelois Jams

Cuckita “Cookie” Bellande and her daughter of Rochelois Jams

Tom of Florida Keys Sea Salt offers a sampling of salt on an apple slice.

Tom from Florida Keys Sea Salt offers a sampling of salt on an apple slice.

Master Gardeners were on hand to solve problems.

Master Gardeners were on hand to solve problems.

Hani Khouri builds a hot, fresh falafel for hungry customers. His special hot sauce made from ghost and Thai peppers was amazing!

Hani Khouri builds a hot, fresh falafel for hungry customers. His special hot sauce made from ghost and Thai peppers was amazing!

Miguel Bode brought his wide assortment of honey.

Miguel Bode brought his wide assortment of honey.

King Moringa: The world's most nutritious tree

King Moringa: The world’s most nutritious tree

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Indie filmmaker Maryam Henein is back in town with a free screening of her documentary Vanishing of the Bees, co-sponsored by Tropical Audubon Society and Slow Food Miami. Come see an award winning, informative, provocative, beautifully filmed documentary about the ongoing honeybee crisis.

To sweeten the deal, farmer Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm will present a honey tasting. True to the name of her farm, there are vibrant and healthy bees living on her property, and the hives are maintained and honey gathered by beekeeper Miguel Bode. (You may have met him at various events at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.) At least two different kinds of honey — wildflower, and lychee and longan — are produced by the bees that call Bee Heaven their earthly home.

Admission is free, but you have to RSVP to Tropical Audubon Society at events@tropicalaudubon.org. Bee there!

A review of a previous screening back in May 2011 can be found here.

Can’t make it to the screening? You can watch online pay per view, or purchase a copy of the DVD at the film’s web site.

vanishing2013

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(Part 2 of 2)

Two Sundays ago, the second day of GrowFest!, I took a break from selling seedlings at the Bee Heaven Farm tent to stroll around and visit some of the vendors. It wasn’t all plants at GrowFest!. There was plenty to try and buy, much like a farmers market.

Melissa’s new book is available for pre-sale.

The first tent I saw when I entered the park belonged to Urban Oasis Project, one of the event sponsors. Had a chance to chat with Melissa Contreras, founder of the local non-profit. She is extremely knowledgeable about growing food, and spent the last year writing her new book, Organic Gardening in South Florida, and Marty Mesh wrote the foreword. It will be published by the University of Florida Press in February 2013, and is available for pre-order for the reduced price of $25 at the Urban Oasis web site.

Organic farmer Gabriele Marewski (left) at the Paradise Farms tent with some of her flax crackers and organic herbal teas.

Since I have limited space for growing plants on my Balcony Farm and didn’t want to get too many, I was more interested tasting local food and drink. And there was plenty of it on hand, almost all made using locally sourced ingredients. Paradise Farms Organic had an assortment of flax seed crackers called “jump food,” (a play on “junk food”) but their dried oyster mushroom snacks were very popular and sold out before I could nibble on a crumb. Farmer Gabriele Marewski also offered a line of herbal teas made from dried herbs and flowers grown on her certified organic farm.

Grower Sal Santelli with samples of his candy-sweet organic mamey. Bet you can’t eat just one bite!

Got to savor the sweetest mamey grown by Sal Santelli of Health and Happiness Farm. Hope he didn’t notice that I sampled more than one piece from the tray he had set out. Sal was quick to point out that he’s the only commercial grower of certified organic mamey in South Florida. He also had avocados, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots and arugula for sale. (Bee Heaven Farm CSA members have gotten his sprouts in their shares the past season.)

Salt farmer Midge Jolly with samples of salts, spices and sponges.

Nearby was the Florida Keys Sea Salt tent, where salt farmers Midge and Tom offered tastes of different kinds of salt harvested from seawater gathered from a flowing channel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Midge told me that they’re the only artisan sea salt farmer south of Charleston. Each package of salt is labeled with the date and celestial event/holiday when it was harvested. Midge explained that the season and weather have a great deal of influence on how the seawater evaporates, and what kinds of flavor nuances and texture the salt develops. She also brought buttonwood smoked salt (my favorite), gomasio, and seaweed-flax crackers. Brought home a packet of her newest product, an incredibly aromatic spice blend called Kopan Masala that is sure to liven up anything I’ll cook. You can find their salts at various shops in the Keys, several farmers markets, or order online. (Florida Keys Sea Salt is also available as a Bee Heaven Farm CSA share add-on.)

Miguel Bode has a wide assortment of local and Florida honey.

Two beekeepers, Miguel Bode and Rigo De La Portilla aka the Tattooed Beekeeper, were selling their honey. Miguel Bode keeps hives at Bee Heaven Farm and Paradise Farms, among other local spots. His wildflower honey (which I have been buying for years) is available to Bee Heaven Farm CSA members either as part of their share or as an add-on.

Rigo De La Portilla, The Tattooed Beekeeper, and his wife Eliza with honey, lip balm and other handcrafted bee products.

Rigo gave several demos on backyard beekeeping on both days, and brought sample hives. Over at his tent, along with different size bottles of wildflower honey, I found candles and balms and other beeswax products which his wife Eliza makes. I smoothed on a rich, honey-scented lip balm with propolis that immediately soothed my lips, and sniffed the delicate scent of honey and goat’s milk soap. Eliza aka The Tattoooed Beekeeper’s Wife has a wide assortment of bee products that can be ordered online at her Etsy shop.

In the Battle of the Sliders, the reigning champs: grass-fed beef sliders prepared by Chef Adri Garcia.

Several people were selling juices and water, but the best drink of all was a lightly sweetened, aromatic allspice tea at the Urban Oasis Project tent. The refreshing tea with the spicy, addictive flavor was brewed from leaves of a plant grown by Melissa. “I grew the allspice myself from a seedling purchased from the UM Gifford Arboretum about eight to10 years ago,” she said. “The tea is a popular item at our potlucks. I have also made it into a homemade soda — tropical root beer!”

In the Battle of the Sliders, the contender: grilled crab cake prepared by Jason Mira of Native Conch.

My eating and drinking tour concluded at the “food court” of several prepared food vendors and picnic tables. Over at the lime green and pink Native Conch trailer, Jason, George Mira’s son, made me a grilled crab cake made from lump crab meat mixed with panko crumbs. It was tasty but I still love their conch salad. The line for falafel wraps and jackfruit curry (which sold out quickly) at Hani Khouri’s tent was a mile long, but I was too hungry and impatient to wait.

Took my growling stomach to Chef Adri Garcia’s tent to get some Florida raised grass-fed beef sliders seasoned just so. They were topped with sauteed onion and peppers, and served with a local mixed greens salad from Paradise Farms, dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Not bad for festival food! For dessert there was Roc Kat Ice Cream, a recent addition to the local food scene. I had hoped for a scoop of pineapple brown sugar ice cream, but it had sold out. Roc Kat sells handcrafted ice cream all around town, so look at their site to track them down.

Farmer Margie with the last serving of jackfruit curry. But I got a taste and it was good…

What’s a festival without music? Around the corner from the food court the music tent was set up. On Saturday, kids from the Robert Morgan Education Center String Chamber Ensemble played. The talented teens were really quite good! On Sunday, local singer-songwriter Grant Livingston sang his original playful and witty songs about life in Florida, including my favorites “Homestead” and “Armadillo.” Oh-ee-oh-ee-oh!

Robert Morgan Education Center String Chamber Ensemble

Singer-songwriter Grant Livingston

(Additional vendors and exhibitors not listed earlier in the vendors post, or mentioned above, were Edible South Florida and Tropical Fruit & Vegetable Society.)

Cuckita “Cookie” Bellande and her husband. Their Rochelois Jams are made from locally grown tropical fruit, and the flavors are worthy of a happy dance. Try monstera, jakfruit, and calamondin.

If you missed GrowFest! this year, it will be back at the Fruit and Spice Park again next year. “Yes, we’ll do it again,” Margie said. “This will be the ‘go to’ place to gather what you need to grow and garden. Next year, we can plan on even more types of seedlings (or seeds) and plants, fertilizer, garden tools, pots, etc.” If you missed out on getting tomato and vegetable seedlings from Bee Heaven Farm, “we’ll have some starts when we return to Pinecrest in December,” Margie added.

To see more pictures, check out the GrowFest 2012 album on my Facebook page, and the Bee Heaven Farm’s Facebook page.

At the Bee Heaven Farm tent.

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Happy Thankgiving to all my readers out there! When you sit down to your holiday feast, don’t forget to give thanks for all the farmers who worked hard to bring you those fresh, local organic green beans, maybe the heritage turkey, and the other delicious things on your table.

Thanks to Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm, and her family and helpers for providing me with some of the freshest and healthiest food I’ve eaten, and for extending their friendship, kindness and generosity. Thanks also (in no particular order) to Chris and Eva Worden, Robert Barnum, Dan Howard, Hani and Mary Lee Khouri, Cliff Middleton, Gabrielle Marewski, Steven Green, Muriel Olivares, Miguel Bode and Mario Yanez.

This blog wouldn’t exist without their cooperation. Their farms wouldn’t exist without your support. Eat local!

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It was a great weekend for the Fairchild Farm & Garden Festival, sunny and warm but not yet excruciatingly hot. A lot was going on, and I was running from presentations in the Garden Room to various tents and back trying to keep up with interesting events.

Margie Pikarsky

On Saturday morning, I dropped in at the start of Farmer Margie Pikarsky’s presentation on preserving the harvest. As usual, she gave a well-researched lecture on different kinds of food preservation — freezing, fermentation, dehydration, brining, pickling, and canning. The handout was chock full of info, and if you didn’t make it to the lecture, you can download it here.

As for following recipes and instructions that one finds published in books and elsewhere, Margie cautioned that “all publications are geared for the temperate zone. You can’t listen to them. We have to modify. It’s warmer here and chemical reactions happen faster. You have to be aware of that. Sauerkraut can take two weeks instead of two months. There’s potential for vegetables to go bad in the heat when fermenting. Start with organic produce which has less mold and contaminants.” Margie recommended the book Wild Fermentation if you want more detailed instructions for pickling and fermenting.

Stopped by the Cooking Demo tent to say hi to Laura Lafata aka La Diva Cucina. She was getting ready to give a presentation on preparing radishes with vermouth. The radishes looked happy to be in her hands, and vermouth is an ingredient I hadn’t thought of using. (The recipe is at the bottom of this post.)

Laura Lafata aka La Diva Cucina

Talk about food makes me hungry, so I prowled around looking for something good to eat. Found Margie standing in line at the bright green Native Conch stand, and we got the last of the conch salad. Thanks to Jason for taking care of us!

Claire Tomlin with potted herbs for sale.

Came across Claire Tomlin of The Market Company showing off her latest venture. She has ready-to-grow raised garden beds made of cedar that you can use in your yard. The beds come in a package that includes a cedar frame, soil blend, vegetable and herb starter plants, organic fertilizer and mulch. All you need to add is water and sunlight. It’s too late to plant almost all vegetables now (remember, we’re in the sub-tropical growing zone), but there’s more than enough time to get ready for fall planting. If you’re interested, contact Dylan Terry at dylanjterry(at)gmail.com or call 786-436-7703 for more information.

Pure beeswax candles available from Miguel Bode the beekeeper.

Said hi to Miguel Bode the beekeeper on the way out, and he revealed that he has the largest display of pure beeswax candles anywhere (well, at least at the festival). He uses 35 different molds to shape wax extracted from his hives.

My name was on the schedule for the food bloggers panel Saturday afternoon, but I couldn’t stay due to a schedule conflict. Thanks to Melissa Contreras and Annie Stamps of Fairchild for inviting me to participate in the Festival. You ladies rock!

Sauteed Radishes and Tops over Bow Tie Pasta with Apple Chicken Sausage

Serves four main dinners or six starter plates


Ingredients:

1 lb. box of bow tie pasta
1 bunch of radishes with tops attached
1 pkg. organic apple chicken sausage
dash white vermouth
good quality extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

Method:

Put on pasta water to boil and once boiling, add a dash of salt. Cook pasta al dente in salted water for a minute or two less than suggested When pasta is cooked, drain into colander, saving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

While pasta is cooking, fill sink with cool water. Chop radish tops and wash thoroughly in water, let green tops drain and then blot dry with paper towels. Wash radishes and thinly slice, set aside.

Heat large fry pan on stove and slice sausages into quarter inch slices. Add olive oil to pan and when heated, add sausages, lower heat to medium high and saute until brown on both sides, being careful not to burn. Put cooked sausage on plate, set aside.

Heat fry pan again and add more olive oil if needd. Once hot, add radishes, lightly salt and cook over medium heat until light brown on both sides. Turn up heat and add a dash of vermouth to deglaze pan, continue cooking radishes for another 30 seconds or until soft. Add to the plate of cooked sausage.

Heat fry pan and use more oil if necessary. Lightly saute greens until just wilted, add pasta to pan along with sausages and radishes and thoroughly combine all ingredients. Cook over medium high heat for another minute, adding a bit of pasta water to make a light sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over each serving.

Copyright (c) La Diva Cucina Inc.

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The two best farmers markets on the weekend — and you can feel free to debate this with me — are the Pinecrest Gardens Green Market on Sundays from 9 am to 2 pm, and the Coral Gables Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 am to 1 pm.

Coral Gables Farmers Market
405 Biltmore Way
(in front of City Hall, at Biltmore Way and LeJeune Ave.)

Hurry over to the Gables Market because this Saturday March 27 is the last day. Several members of Redland Organics are selling their wares there.

Jad, Jessie, Leah and Mary Lee at Hani's Mediterranean Organics

One recent weekend I stopped by to chat with the crew at Hani’s Mediterranean Organics. Everybody who walked up to the tent asked if cheese was available. “The goat cheese is in limited production and sells out fast. You got to get here early,” Hani’s wife Mary Lee patiently explained. She offered mussels cooked in white wine sauce with garlic, or maybe some lupini beans to snack on. Their son Jad was making falafel, and volunteers Jessie and Leah from Ohio State University helped out. (Hani is also at the Pinecrest Market.)

Paradise Farms, the only certified organic farmer at Gables market.

Across the street you’ll find Paradise Farms selling various fruits, vegetables and herbs. Paradise is certified organic, unlike other growers at the market. You have to get there early for their famous oyster mushrooms. The recent cool, dry weather slowed down mushroom growth, so there have been some weeks where they have been in short supply. (Paradise is not at Pinecrest Market, but you might find the mushrooms at Redland Organics.)

You’ll find Miguel Bode selling honey and pollen at his tent set up at the end of Biltmore Way right by LeJeune. Miguel’s wife was there last Saturday while Miguel was down in Redland checking his hives. He keeps bees at Bee Heaven Farm and at Paradise Farms. His wildflower honey is my favorite, and is a real taste of the local area.

Miguel Bode's local honey and bee pollen

Pinecrest Gardens Green Market
5855 S.W. 111th Street
(in parking lot in front of Pinecrest Gardens)

If you want Miguel’s honey but missed the Gables Market, you can also find it here, sold by Redland Organics. Everything is local, either grown on Bee Heaven Farm or sourced from organic growers within 150 miles of Miami. No telling what interesting things you’ll discover under the sprawling tent. In addition to honey, you can find certified organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, along with bunches of flowers and dried fruits, and Paradise Farms oyster mushrooms (subject to availability).

Word up to CSA members — the produce in your Saturday box is also available at market, so if you want more of something but didn’t find it in the extras box, go to Pinecrest. You can also find things at market which never make it into your CSA box, particularly fruit and herbs. On one recent Sunday, I saw rangpur limes, which look like small oranges but are not quite as tart as the familiar green limes.

The Pinecrest Market will run through April.

An assortment of familiar and unusual fruit at Redland Organics.

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Mystery of the bees

Bees like bananas. Taken in happier times a couple months ago.

About half the honey bees are dead at Bee Heaven Farm, according to Miguel Bode, the beekeeper. He checked his hives after the last freeze and again this past weekend. The bottom of the hives had a layer about an inch thick of dead bees, and there were plenty more dead bees outside the hive entrances. And hives he keeps down the road at Paradise Farms also suffered casualties, but not quite as many, and bees there were more active.

Without a doubt, Miguel suspects pesticide spraying [in the mass casualties in one hive]. No telling where it occurred, because a bee can range as far as a mile from the hive in its search for food. When a bee brings back contaminated pollen to the hive, it will get distributed to the other bees, which will also sicken and die.

Miguel was surprised by the huge quantity of deaths because the hives were in decent shape before the cold weather rolled in. The bulk of his hives, which he keeps in the suburbs, remain in good condition.

It’s not likely that it was the cold that caused the mass die off. Miguel pointed out that bees which live Up North make it through much harsher winters than ours without significant problems. Bees can survive cold weather. When the temperatures drop, the bees inside the hive cluster into a ball, and vibrate the muscles of their wings to generate heat to stay warm. The temperature inside the cluster is about 90 degrees. The bees rotate from the warm inside of the cluster to the cooler outside, so that all can get warm. [But on the other hand, if the bees didn't have enough food to make it though the abnormally long cold spell, they could have very well been affected by the cold, Miguel told me on Jan 30th.]

So, because the bees have been diminished, it doesn’t look like there will be much avocado honey this next season. The trees are putting out buds and will start blooming in a couple weeks. By the time the next generation of bees is old enough to go out and forage (about six weeks from now), the blooming season might be past its peak. There’s also a chance there may not be as many avocados this summer. [All of this is might and maybe, because mother nature doesn't work on an exact schedule. A lot of variables are involved.]

This incident is all the more reason why Miguel is searching for that special yard somewhere in the suburbs where he can move his bees. (There isn’t as much mass spraying of pesticides there.) If you have a big yard and love bees and honey, contact him at beemyhoneymiami(at)yahoo.com for the details of the deal.

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