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Posts Tagged ‘Gabriele Marewski’

(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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Gabriele Marewski is an Innovative Farmer.

Local organic farmer Gabriele Marewski was recognized with the Florida Innovative Farmer Award at the 2012 Small Farm and Alternative Enterprise Conference this summer. (She joins Eva and Chris Worden of Worden Farm, organic growers in Punta Gorda, who were given the same award in 2010.)

Gabriele owns and operates Paradise Farms Organic, which is known for the Dinner in Paradise fine dining series every winter/spring. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner series is donated to small local non-profits. This season, Urban Greenworks and Slow Food Miami will receive donations. (Events are the main way that the community can visit the farm, which is otherwise not open to the public.)

In addition to dinners, Sunday morning brunches and occasional farm tours, Paradise Farms has branched out to other ventures, and recently started offering a venue for “sustainable, organic weddings” on the farm. Several cabins are available for B&B overnight stays.

The farm is also venturing into the realm of value-added foods. “We have a large 3’x3’ 24 shelf dehydrator where we are making teas from our edible flowers,” Gabriele said. In addition,”We have received a Value Added Producer Grant from the USDA to dehydrate our oyster mushrooms into a delicious healthy snack for school vending machines.” (The mushroom snacks are still in the focus group tasting stage.) And of course, Gabriele has made a name for herself growing microgreens and edible flowers for high-end restaurants.

Paradise is innovative in that it’s not only an organic farm, but also strictly vegetarian. Meat and meat products are not allowed on the property, whether they be dinner ingredients or farm nutrients. Gabriele is determined to keep it that way. “Vegetarianism is the single most important act to save our planet as it take lots of resources to produce commercial meat and is the biggest single pollutant of our waterways.”

The Innovative Farmer Award is a joint venture by the University of Florida and Florida A&M University to assist the state’s small farms, which are defined as having sales of less than $250,00 a year, and represent more than 90 per cent of all farms in Florida.

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It’s media week for Redland’s organic farmers! See Gabriele Marewski and her luscious summer fruit from Paradise Farms featured on Deco Drive on Tuesday. The produce is the star at Elemis Spa, where they use it in various concoctions to make your skin and body glowing and beautiful. Watch (and read) here:

http://www.wsvn.com/decodrive/articles/deco_features/MI95690/

You will need the latest version of Flash Player to watch the video.

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Miami Culinary Institute’s Organic Culinary Garden  

Official Grand Opening on July 14th at 10:00 am

Gabriele Marewski, in a newly formed partnership with Natural Greenscapes, brings the ambiance and magic of Paradise Farms to the new Culinary Garden for the new Miami Culinary Institute at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. All of these partners are very excited about being on the cutting edge of effecting change in how culinary students come to know their ingredients: a new Seed to Soil initiative.

The garden has over 40 different fruits, 30 different herbs and a variety of delicious tropical shrubs and edible flowers.  This living classroom brings to the students a unique opportunity to be directly involved in planting and harvesting their own food. Food scraps from the Institute’s kitchen will be composted and used in the garden for a true “soil to soil” sustainable process.

Gabriele will also teach a class in Fall as part of the Institute’s Enthusiasts Program, as the garden becomes the platform for growing culinary gardeners (www.miamidadeculinary.com).

The garden is located on the southeast corner of NE 6th St. & NE 1st Ave.  Please join us on Thursday, July 14th at  10 am for the Grand Opening!

Free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

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It’s not every day that farmer Gabrielle Marewski holds an open house at her Paradise Farm. Usually the only time you can visit is for one of her well-known Dinners in Paradise, held in the winter. To get a tour in the off season is a rare treat. From her invitation:

Come visit the farm this Saturday from 9 am to noon!

We would like to thank you for all your questions about organic gardening as well as your inquiries about our produce and other items we sell! Your excitement is certainly contagious and we have decided to offer a tour and a farm market on Saturday July 9th.

Please join us for a tour of our farm! Our farm market will include items such as our delicious oyster mushrooms, organic plants for your garden, iced flower-power tea, and much more! Reservations are required so that we may plan accordingly. The tour will begin promptly at 9:30am so please arrive at least 15 minutes before hand.

The tour is $10 per adult and $6 per child. Please call to make a reservation: 305-248-4181. We look forward to seeing you!

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