Posts Tagged ‘Farmer Margie Pikarsky’

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 .

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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Farmer Margie Pikarsky has a big, expensive dream! She wants a large professional greenhouse, fully equipped with metal benches, with an irrigation system on a timer, and powered by solar energy.

Only one week left to make a donation, and sadly, there’s a looooong way to go to reach the goal. Please dig deep and be generous with your donations.

Margie has a fundraiser page where you can help offset construction costs. You’ll find a list of different perks that you get with the different levels of donations. See what grabs your fancy — tickets to GrowFest, seedlings for your garden, t-shirts and cinch bags are some of the goodies.

For the numbers crunchers, the exact numbers and details about greenhouse features are spelled out on the fundraiser page. Lots of details there that aren’t listed here.

If you’re a Redland Organics/Bee Heaven Farm CSA member, you stand to benefit the most from this, with the added potential of an extended growing season and a greater variety of veggies in your share box!

So what are you waiting for…. give!


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One of the weirdest looking fruits of summer is jackfruit. It has a thick green knobby skin, could pass for some kind of alien pod. A full-grown fruit may easily weigh 30 to 40 pounds.

Farmer Margie Pikarsky starts opening up a jackfruit.

Farmer Margie Pikarsky starts opening up a jackfruit.

Farmer Margie sells whole fruits of varying sizes on her summertime online store. She also cuts 3 pound chunks to order.

The yellow pouches are edible, but the white membranes are not.

The yellow pouches are edible, but the white membranes are not.

Opening one of these fruits is not for the weak of hand or faint of heart. You’ll need a big, sharp knife to pierce the thick skin, and the blade, your hands and the cutting board all need to be thoroughly oiled so the latex sap doesn’t stick.

You can’t just cut open the fruit, peel it and pop it in your mouth. Its white/gray “rags” or connective membranes are inedible in most varieties and need to be removed. The edible part of the fruit looks like a firm yellow pouch, which contains a large oval seed. You can blanch and roast seeds, or boil in brine, to make a snack that has a taste and texture of chestnuts.

Jackfruit seeds can be cooked and eaten.

Jackfruit seeds can be cooked and eaten.

When it’s ripe, jackfruit has a strong sweet, distinctive aroma, and gives off a good bit of ethylene gas (which can ripen other things in your refrigerator if you’re not careful.) It tastes like a blend of banana, pineapple and vanilla, and has a chewy texture. You can also eat the fruit green or unripe (but be extra careful with the sticky sap, which is greatly reduced when the fruit is fully ripe), and season it like you would curry or chili, or cook it in coconut milk. It said to make for a convincing meat substitute.

Read about Robert Barnum of Possum Trot Tropical Fruit Nursery growing jackfruit.


Jackfruit ripening on the tree.

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The big barn in the back of Bee Heaven Farm is where a lot of things happen. In the winter, a packing line for CSA shares is set up in its large open space.  Then in summer a slightly different packing line is set up to sort and box organic  avocados from the Bee Heaven grove.

Trees in the Bee Heaven grove are loaded with fruit.

Trees in the Bee Heaven grove are loaded with fruit.

Periodically through the summer, Farmer Margie delivers pallets of freshly-harvested large green Donnies and red-skinned Hardees directly to the Whole Foods Market Florida warehouse in Pompano Beach, where they are distributed to area stores the very next day.

Cleaning and grading avocados.

Cleaning and grading avocados.

Because the barn is a certified organic packing house, from summer through fall, local grower Murray Bass backs in trailer loads of his organic avocados to pack there. His crew cleans, sorts and boxes avocados all day long.

Filling boxes to be sold under Uncle Matt's brand.

Filling boxes to be sold under Uncle Matt’s brand.

Then pallet loads of his avocados are taken over to the Florida City State Farmers Market Facility, where they are kept in a large drive-up cooler. Big rigs from Publix and Whole Foods can back in easily to the loading docks to pick up their orders. Look for Murray’s avocados sold under the Uncle Matt’s brand!

Unloading pallets of Uncle Matt's avocados at the Florida City market.

Unloading pallets of Uncle Matt’s avocados at the Florida City market.

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