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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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GrowFest-logo-2

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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Pepper #30, by Edward Weston

Pepper #30, by Edward Weston

Many years ago, I came across the famous photo of a bell pepper taken by Edward Weston. The pepper was sensuous and and appeared to have a satiny skin. I was transfixed and flummoxed. Where did Weston find such a thing? Turns out he grew the pepper himself. But that didn’t keep me from scouring bins of bell peppers at the grocery stores. Nope, no luck. They were all the same plain boxy shape. No quirks, no twists, no character. Let’s face it, veggies at the supermarket are just plain dull.

Page 42 of the Spring issue, Edible South Florida

Page 42 of the Spring issue, Edible South Florida

It wasn’t until I started hanging out at Bee Heaven Farm taking photos of CSA shares that I came across produce with character. Hallelujah! Of course, I started photographing them! And now, a small part of my collection of wacky veggie pictures has been published on the inside back page of the spring issue of Edible South Florida. Thanks to editor Gretchen Schmidt for selecting the pictures!

Ohhhh myyyyy!!!

Ohhhh myyyyy!!!

Large heirloom tomatoes like to morph various shapes. Carrots get naughty. Daikon are more elegant and like to twist and twine. Eggplants grow noses. And bell peppers tend to grow lobes and knobs. (I still haven’t found one as elegant as Weston’s but that won’t keep me from looking.) Mother Nature is coloring outside the lines.

One man, Jordan Figueiredo, is on a mission to get supermarkets to sell veggies with character, because creating consumer demand for misshapen produce is a good way of reducing food waste. Growers and wholesalers prefer uniformly shaped, blandly “perfect” produce for supermarket sales — and us shoppers have come to expect bland as normal. We lose out on nature’s riotous creativity, which gets wasted, rotten, thrown away.

You can read more about Figueiredo and his mission in the article next to my pictures. His web site lists links for grocery chains, where you can be an ugly veggie activist too. Shoot an email to corporate. Or, ask the produce manager at your favorite grocery store, and remember to keep asking. With enough demand, “uglies” can and will start showing up routinely in grocery stores.

Don’t forget, “uglies” are fun. Over at the farmers market, I’ve seen kids reach first for eggplants with noses, and moms get a giggle at risque carrots. And of course you can start your own collection of produce pictures. Maybe you’ll be the one who finds a pepper as memorable as Weston’s #30.

Dancing daikon

Dancing daikon

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Some of the assorted produce available this time of year.

Some of the assorted produce available this time of year.

Pinecrest Farmers Market
Sundays 9 am to 2 pm

Location:
Pinecrest Gardens
11100 SW 57th Ave.
Pinecrest FL 33156

It’s that time of year again, when Bee Heaven Farm/Redland Organics appears for the season at the Pinecrest Farmers Market. Bee Heaven offers the best in fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable produce. Look for their big white tent! Check out these items that are available now:

Awesome Veggies: purple and striped eggplant, arugula, mizuna, 2 kinds of kale, collards, bok choy, yukina savoy, baby bok choy, sweet green bell, cubanelle, poblano and jalapeno peppers, fennel, dandelion greens, sunflower greens, lettuces, cucumbers, beets, red turnips, kohlrabi, cherry and grape tomatoes, daikon, watermelon radish.

Father and daughter shopping for cukes.

Father and daughter shopping for cukes.

Savory herbs: scallions, cilantro, curryleaf, allspice, garlic chives, lemongrass, flat Italian parsley, dill, cilantro, hoja santa.

Bean Bonanza: green beans.

Delectable Fruits: black sapote, canistel, carambola, GREEN papaya (for Asian salads and cooked dishes), passionfruit, sugarcane.

Other assorted goodies: local farm honey, fresh pollen, herb teas, dried Fruits of Summer, Florida Sem-Chi organic rice, Florida Keys Sea Salt, Flair’s Fayre goat milk soaps, and assorted tomato and herb seedlings.

Come early for best selection! The market is located in the parking lot near the front entrance of Pinecrest Gardens. See you there!

Farmer Margie Pikarsky, and husband Nick.

Farmer Margie Pikarsky, and husband Nick.

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Tropical Cornucopia Farm and Garden Show
Saturday Nov. 2 and Sunday Nov. 3, 2013
10 am to 5 pm
Free admission

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.

Location:
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

Tropical Cornucopia

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Browsing for organic seedlings at the Bee Heaven Farm tent.

Browsing for organic seedlings at the Bee Heaven Farm tent.

(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.

GF-wagon

The best way to carry mass quantities of seedlings!

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).

Farm intern Nicole Fiori helps a customer choose heirloom tomato seedlings.

Farm intern Nicole Fiori (right)helps a customer choose heirloom tomato seedlings.

A big thanks to farm employee Luz, intern Nicole, and volunteers Dhilini, Alhen and Holly who were on hand all weekend!

Selecting loofahs and goat's milk soap.

Selecting loofahs and goat’s milk soap.

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.

Margie Pikarsky, Marty Mesh and Steven Green discuss matters at the FOG tent.

Margie Pikarsky, Marty Mesh and Steven Green discuss matters at the FOG tent.

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.”

Two Innovative Farmers of the Year! Margie Pikarsky (2013) and Gabriele Marewski (2012).

Two Innovative Farmers of the Year! Margie Pikarsky (2013) and Gabriele Marewski (2012).

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.

Alfredo Anez, Katie Sullivan and Gretchen Schmidt are the key people who produce Edible South Florida.

Alfredo Anez, Katie Sullivan and Gretchen Schmidt are the key people who produce Edible South Florida.

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.

Giant African Land Snails (GALS) in carious stages of growth. A sample of their eggs is in the upper right corner.

Giant African Land Snails (GALS) in various stages of growth. A sample of their eggs is in the upper right corner.

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.

Grower Arturo Gonzalez, of Margarita's Fruits & Vegetables brought a forest of mango and avocado saplings.

Grower Arturo Gonzalez, of Margarita’s Fruit Trees, brought a forest of mango and avocado saplings.

GF-bananas

Bananas and plantains at Going Bananas

GF-bees

Beekeeping books and supplies from South Florida Bee Supplies.

Carnivorous plants from Envy Botanicals

Carnivorous plants from Envy Botanicals

Landscaping plants at Casey's Corner Nursery

Landscaping plants at Casey’s Corner Nursery.

Fresh potted herbs from Teena's Pride Farm

Fresh potted herbs from Teena’s Pride Farm.

Learn how to compost with worms, from the Fertile Earth Foundation.

Learn how to compost with worms, from the Fertile Earth Foundation.

Kamala Fletcher, Christiana Serlé, and Mike Moskos of the South Florida Food Policy Council

Kamala Fletcher, Christiana Serlé, and Mike Moskos of the South Florida Food Policy Council discuss the community’s food issues.

Ken Holden advocates incorporating Redland

Ken Holden advocates incorporating Redland.

Buy native plants from the Urban Paradise Guild

Buy native plants from the Urban Paradise Guild

(To be continued…)

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Start your gardens!

GrowFest-logo-2

Saturday October 19 and Sunday October 20, 2013 
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

GrowFest! 2013 is right around the corner, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to get your seedlings, companion plants and fruit trees for your fall garden. Farmer Margie Pikarsky and her staff have been hard at work growing heirloom tomato starts and other baby plants for the event.

Bee Heaven Farm will offer over 80 varieties of heirloom tomato seedlings, several varieties of eggplant, hot peppers, basil, arugula, chard, kale, Asian greens and perennial herbs like garlic chives, curryleaf, and lemongrass. Other vendors will have fruit trees, native and companion plants to promote beneficial insect habitat, and gardening supplies. SNAP/EBT dollars can be used for buying veggie seeds and seedlings. And those dollars will stretch twice as far, courtesy of Urban Oasis Project/Wholesome Wave Foundation’s double-value program, to get those gardens growing!

Browsing through a sea of seedlings in the heirloom tomato section. (GrowFest! 2012)

Browsing through a sea of seedlings in the heirloom tomato section. (GrowFest! 2012)

Questions about growing? Answers here for backyard growers, urban farmers, small and big farms. The UF/Miami- Dade County Extension Office is our local source for growing information tailored to our subtropical South Florida climate. Check out their presentations and demos. There will be special emphasis on organic and environmentally friendly practices, and establishing building blocks for healthy eating.

Want to learn how to prepare healthy food and kid-friendly snacks? See local chefs use fresh local ingredients to create fun and tasty dishes, school lunches, and snacks. Pick up copies of three awesome books all about local foods — Local Flavor: Recipes Raised in the Florida Redland — Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers, Chefs and Artisans — Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida.

Melissa Contreras, author of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening.

Melissa Contreras, author of Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening.

Enjoy fresh, great food!  Tired of that same old fair food? We’ll have a great selection of healthy foods showcasing locally-grown Fresh From Florida and Redland Raised ingredients. Local cottage food and artisanal producers will share their stories and sell their goods.

Explore the park!  The only tropical botanical garden and public park of its kind in the U.S., the Redland Fruit & Spice Park hosts over 500 varieties of tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, nuts and edible plants. If you’ve ever been to the park, you know what a nice place it is to visit and learn about the amazing variety of edible plants you can grow in South Florida.

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Margie at GrowFest@beeheavenfarm.com

Want to be a vendor or exhibitor?
Click here for GrowFest! 2013 vendor application.

Location:
Redland Fruit & Spice Park 
24801 SW 187th Avenue, Redland, FL 
(corner of Coconut Palm Drive & Redland Road)

Admission:
$8 advance purchase 
$10 at the gate 
children under 12 free
Includes raffle tickets for a chance at some great door prizes!

The heart of the matter was found at the Bee Heaven Farm tents.

The heart of the matter was found at the Bee Heaven Farm tents. (GrowFest! 2012)

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