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DATES: October 15 and 16, 2016, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Fruit & Spice Park, 24801 SW 187 Avenue, Redland, FL
ADMISSION:  $10 cash per person at the gate.
Advance tickets $8 online until Oct. 12 at Brown Paper Tickets .
Children under 12 get in free.
Military families can get free tickets at www.VetTix.org .

GrowFest!
A celebration of all local things edible, green, and growing

Redland GrowFest! returns for the fifth year to the Fruit & Spice Park October 15 & 16, 2016. This annual event celebrates all local things edible, green, and growing. Growers offer a bonanza of seedlings, starter plants and native and tropical fruit trees for home or school gardens and food forest projects. Food and artisan vendors feature products made with Redland-Raised ingredients, like the festival’s signature jackfruit curry.

Bee Aware! is this year’s festival theme, highlighting our pollinators, so essential for many crops. The Tropical Beekeepers Association, this year’s event beneficiary, will be on hand to share information about beekeeping from the hobby to the professional level and their educational projects. The club meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Redlands Community Church.

Organic grower and festival organizer Margie Pikarsky, owner of Bee Heaven Farm, believes it’s important for folks in the South Florida area to be aware of our diverse local agricultural resources, and learn how to take advantage of the unique possibilities our tropical climate offers.

The Chefs’ Local Cookoff Challenge on Sunday, joined this year by a similar Students’ Local Cookoff Challenge on Saturday, asks renowned local chefs and students to get creative with a Mystery Box full of Redland-Raised seasonal crops. Awesome deliciousness results from their inspired dishes!

Lectures and demos throughout the weekend by UF/IFAS/Miami-Dade County Extension agents, 4-H, Master Gardeners, and other local experts will inform growers at all levels – from balcony to backyard growers, urban, small and large farmers.

Event sponsors include Dade County Farm Bureau, Edible South Florida, District 8 Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, UF/IFAS Miami-Dade County Extension, Homestead Hospital, FIU Agroecology Program, Slow Food Miami, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fresh From Florida/Redland Raised, Bee Heaven Farm and the Fruit & Spice Park.

For more information and schedule of activities, visit the Redland GrowFest! web site.

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Chefs’ Local Cookoff Challenge: Sunday, 1:30 pm

The Chefs
Sean Brasel – Meat Market
Michael Reidt – Pilgrim
Samantha Narvaez – PG Bakery
Chef Pablo Zitzmann – Trust and Company
Simon Stojanovik – Swank Farm/ Swank Table

The Judges
Galena Moscovitch – Herald and Zagat writer
Sarah Liss – Writer/Saffron Supper Club
Eleanor Hoh – Wok Star cooking teacher, Blogger

The Ingredients
• a mystery box of locally-grown seasonal food
• a limited pantry with locally-grown ingredients plus a few basic staples
• 3 ingredients of their choosing

The Result
Awesomely creative deliciousness!

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Heirloom tomato and pepper seedlings in the foreground, and a forest of ginger and turmeric in the back.

Heirloom tomato and pepper seedlings in the foreground, and a forest of ginger and turmeric in the back.

A few days ago I paid a visit to Bee Heaven Farm, and took a peek inside the big, new greenhouse. What I saw was amazing — a sea of vegetable and herb seedlings growing in flats of little black plastic pots. They filled almost one half of the 60 foot wide by 90 foot long greenhouse. In the other half of the greenhouse was a double row easily 60 feet long, of larger plants, mostly ginger and turmeric, growing in large felt pots.

I lost count of how many plants I was looking at, so let’s just say that there was about 250 square feet of young plants and seedlings. That’s a lot more than what Farmer Margie Pikarsky had started this time last year, growing plants on long benches made of recycled wooden pallets.

Almost all these young plants are destined for the farm’s seedling sale at Redland GrowFest! which is coming up this weekend. The sale is the heart and purpose of the festival, started and run by Margie, which celebrates all things local and growing.

As I strolled up and down the greenhouse rows taking pictures, I stopped here and there to read the labels. Herbs include Cuban oregano, basil, lemongrass and cilantro. Hotheads will rejoice to see a wide variety of peppers, both hot and mild — datil, bird, bishop’s crown, hot thai, wiri wiri, Anaheim, Jimmy Nardello and cachucha, to name a few.

Heirloom tomato seedlings.

Heirloom tomato seedlings.

And fans of heirloom tomatoes have the usual wide assortment to choose from. Shapes and colors range from large, small, pear shaped, oval, round, yellow, orange, black, green striped, and of course classic red round and plum. The names of the heirloom tomatoes are just as varied — green envy, Juliet, podland pink, Ukrainian purple, black krim, sweet million, sunset pear, Japanese oxheart, garden peach (yes, a fuzzy tomato!), Arkansas traveler. These are tried and true varieties that do well in our South Florida heat and humidity, and which Margie plants on her farm season after season.

Both the farm and the Fruit and Spice Park, where Redland GrowFest! is held, are inside the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF) quarantine zone. I asked Margie if that was going to create a problem. She explained that it’s business as usual this year. “There’s no drastic changes this year. Seedlings and plants without fruit are not an issue,” she told me. “Greens and herbs are ok too.”

To make sure that everything is safe, and no flies are found, Margie explained that all plant and fruit vendors had to sign an FDACS compliance agreement that stated they are taking all required precautions against the OFF. “Fruit has to be covered to provide protection for the potential host material.” Fruits in season now are avocados, guavas, carambola and pitaya, and they will have to be kept inside fine mesh screening or plastic containers to keep the dangerous little flies away. The OFF lays its eggs inside fruit. No fruit — or no access to fruit — there’s no fly and no problem. The only thing that visitors can’t do is bring fallen fruit out of the park.

Dried bananas are sweet, chewy, and full of real banana flavor.

Dried bananas are sweet, chewy, and full of real banana flavor.

You won’t find fresh fruit at the Bee Heaven Farm tent. “Dried fruit is my thing,” Margie said, and her fruit dryer has been humming night and day this summer. She is offering a choice of dried carambola, mamey, mango, persimmon, or bananas, and a mixed assortment called Fruits of Summer. Fruit that has been processed in some way — dried, or made into jam, for example — is safe against the fly.

So come to the festival to buy seedlings and plants for your garden this growing season, and stay to listen to live music, and eat delicious local food. There’s a full schedule of live demos and presentations given by gardening and plant experts who will share a wealth of knowledge — all included in the price of admission! It’s the fourth year for Redland GrowFest! and it looks like it’s going to be the best year so far.

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FEATURED SPEAKER: Jim Ewing, former president of the Mississippi Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, will be presenting on two topics:
 
Creating an Edible Forest on a Permaculture Model. Jim outlines various layouts and strategies for incorporating perennials into a traditional growing layout, providing a more natural, stress-free food production area. Human beings have been doing this — prior to modern industrial agriculture — for millennia, from the birth of human kind on the savannahs of Africa.
Sunday, October 18 at 10:00 am
 
Selling Your Crop: Tips for Small Producers. Calling his techniques “guerilla marketing,” Jim gives tips for small producers to increase sales through various strategies — cheaply! — using social media, targeting markets and objectively weighing and maximizing options for one’s unique situation.
Sunday, October 18 at 1:00 pm
 
 A former organic farmer, Jim serves or has served with numerous ag, food system and environmental organizations, and is currently on the administrative council and a member of the executive committee of the 15-state Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE USDA) program that serves Florida. He is the author of seven books, including Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating.

 

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SATURDAY

All Day – Master Gardener Plant Clinic

All Day – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry – Learn about the Redland Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF) quarantine, Giant African Land Snails (GALS) and Agro-Terrorism initiatives. Officers will be on hand for anyone needing to sign a compliance agreement.

10:00 am – 11:00 am  Fermenting Love – Shelah Davis

10:30 am – 11:30 am  Vermicomposting – Zarron Brown, Worm Whisperer

11:00 am – 12:00 noon  Asian Vegetables for South Florida – Dr. Qingren Wang, Commercial Vegetable Agent

12:00 noon – 1:00 pm  Easy Cooking with Asian Vegetables

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  Home Composting – Adrian Hunsberger, MS Urban Horticulture Agent/Entomologist/Master Gardener Coordinator. Workshop participants will receive a voucher (one per household) for a free compost bin valued over $100. (Pick up your bin at Solid Waste, address will be provided.) Advance registration not required.

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm  Rain Barrel Workshops – Barbara McAdam, PA, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program.(Workshop is free, but advance registration required to reserve a rain barrel @$40). Register here for Saturday.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm  Vermicomposting – Zarron Brown, the Worm Whisperer

SUNDAY

All Day – Master Gardener Plant Clinic

All Day – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Division of Plant Industry – Learn about the Redland Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF) quarantine, Giant African Land Snails (GALS) and Agro-Terrorism initiatives. Officers will be on hand for anyone needing to sign a compliance agreement.

10:00 am – 11:00 am  Creating an Edible Forest on a Permaculture Model  – Jim Ewing, member USDA SSARE, Exec Comm

10:30 am – 11:00 am  Vermicomposting – Zarron Brown the Worm Whisperer

11:00 am –12:00 noon  Goat Milking Demo – Christina Nielsen, Flair’s Fayre goatherder

12:00 noon – 1:00 pm  Art of Kombucha – Buster Brown

12:45 pm – 1:30 pm  Proper Pruning of Fruit Trees live demo – Jeff Wasielewski, MS Tropical Fruit Extension Agent

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm  Selling Your Crop: Tips for Small Producers – Jim Ewing, member USDA SSARE, Exec Comm

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  Chef Cookoff Challenge – 5 top chefs + limited ingredients + a mystery box of locally-grown food + 3 judges = a recipe for exciting creations with the unique foods of South Florida.

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm  Rain Barrel Workshops – Barbara McAdam, PA, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods Program. (Workshop is free, but advance registration required to reserve a rain barrel @$40) Register here for Sunday.

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm  Vermicomposting – Zarron Brown, the Worm Whisperer

Schedule subject to change.

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Article by Margie Pikarsky,
owner of Bee Heaven Farm, Redland FL

You’ve probably heard about the recent quarantine imposed on over 80 square miles of our Redland agricultural area. It’s because of what might be the absolute worst pest imaginable in a single package. Why? The Oriental Fruit Fly eats anything that even remotely looks like a fruit, and some other things too. It’s not from here, so there are no natural enemies.

Remember the Mediterranean fruit fly scares and quarantines? Well, the Medfly has a list of about 20 “host materials”, fruits. The Oriental Fruit Fly has a 14 PAGE list of just about every fruit you can think of, fruiting veggies like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumber, luffa, snap beans, and even some ornamentals like jasmine, brugmansia, orchids and Ylang-Ylang. Get the idea just how devastating this fly could be if it gained a foothold here?

The Department of Agriculture monitors sentinel traps for several species of exotic pest flies, each baited with an irresistible sex lure that will draw in a fly if it’s somewhere in the vicinity. (Don’t worry, it’s not going to bring in flies where they aren’t already hanging around.) You may have seen some of these white triangular traps hanging on trees here and there. They’ve been around for years, silently guarding our crops from outbreaks.

Every once in a while, a fly shows up in a trap. Then FDACS goes on alert, sets out a bunch more traps around the area of the find, and monitors. Usually no more are found, and that is that.

This time, however, they found 5 locations close to each other where there this fly had set up shop, and they found, not just 1 fly, but at the worst location, 45 in a single trap! This meant they were breeding. It was a call to mobilize. You’ve never seen government agents, both from USDA and from FDACS, move so fast into position to set more traps and start canvassing the area to find out exactly where they are. Following a proven protocol, they defined a core boundary area within 1/2 mile of each find, a larger treatment area around the cores, and declared a quarantine area reaching out 4.5 miles in every direction from the core area. And they’ve stepped up monitoring a little outside the quarantine area too, just in case.

The absolute best way to treat this kind of invasion, they’ve found, is to use these same irresistible lures in baited traps. For the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF), the lure is methyl eugenol, a naturally occurring substance that acts as a pheromone male OFF flies simply cannot resist. Where they have found females, a different type of trap, using a yeast-based lure, is set. Nearby trees are stripped of their fruit, and the soil beneath and around the immediate area is drenched with a poison to kill larva. Why the soil? Well, the female lays eggs in the fruit. The larva hatch, and before they’re ready to pupate, they fall to the ground and move into the soil. There they hatch into new flies. So to make sure the cycle is completely broken, they have to poison the soil. Sad but necessary.

In the meantime, fruit is NOT allowed to move around in the quarantine area, unless and until it is treated is a way to eliminate the possibility of inadvertently spreading the flies.

What does this mean to you? If you’re a homeowner in the quarantine area or have friends who live there, the simplest, best thing while the quarantine is in effect is:

1) Do not take fresh fruit off your property.
2) Do not accept fresh fruit from another property, not even your nana’s house.
3) Eat it on the property – have food parties!
4) Process it in your kitchen – freeze it, juice it, cook it, make jams & jellies. Once you’ve done that, you can take the finished product off the property without fear.
5) Dispose of all scraps and peelings in the approved way – double-bagged, sealed and placed in a covered garbage can that will go to the landfill.

For commercial or hobby growers, if you anticipate a large crop of something that is one of the 400+ listed hosts (avocados, squash, pitaya, for example), you can start a 30-day pre-harvest treatment protocol. Once 30 days have passed AND no flies were found near you, you can begin to harvest, while continuing the treatment. There are a couple of approved USDA treatment options, once of which IS approved for use in organic production.

The other option when harvesting, is to use a post-harvest treatment. There are very few treatments approved by the USDA for this purpose, and they mainly involve the use of methyl bromide with or without chilling for many days, or irradiation. Each type of fruit has its own protocol, and these treatments are not guaranteed to keep the fruit in good condition! For instance, most Florida avocado varieties simply cannot sit in refrigerator temperatures for days – it spoils the fruit and turns it brown. None of the post-harvest treatments are approved for use in organic production.

Nurseries and gardeners need to be careful. If potted plants are growing underneath fruit trees, the soil in the pots must be drenched with the poison to make sure no larvae dropping from above are lurking in the soil. If the plants are growing in a greenhouse or in the open away from trees, it’s not an issue and no special precautions need to be taken, other than to make sure no fruit is left to grow on the potted plants (young fruit trees shouldn’t be allowed to set fruit anyhow-while attractive to a potential customer, it’s like expecting an 8-year-old to have a child-damaging to the parent.

Anyone involved in production, handling, packing or selling of host plant materials (fruits, fruiting veggies, some ornamentals, palms, etc) in the quarantine zone or needing to transport in or out of the zone, needs to fill out a Compliance Agreement.

For extensive information about the fly, the quarantine areas, maps, rules, available treatments, latest finds, and more visit the Division of Plant Industry website at: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Plant- Industry/Pests-Diseases/Exotic-Fruit-Flies/Oriental-Fruit-Fly-Information

For help in completing the simple compliance agreement, reporting suspect flies, improper movement of fruit, or general information contact the HOTLINE at 888-397-1517.

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GrowFest! is a go!

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Redland GrowFest!

Saturday October 17 & Sunday October 18, 2015
9:30 am – 4:30 pm

Fruit & Spice Park
24801 SW 187th Ave, Redland, FL

Edible & Native Plants: seedlings and fruit trees
Growing information, workshops, demos and presentations
Delicious Local Food, Chef’s Local Cookoff Challenge
Music, Art, Tours, Giveaways, Kid Stuff

This year’s event benefits the Redland Farm Life Culinary Center,

a project of the South Florida Pioneer Museum
 
Admission: $10 at gate,  $8 in advance online
Free admission for children under 12
Military families get free tickets at VetTix.org

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