Posts Tagged ‘Miami Herald’

About 50 people registered for the Slow Food Miami Farm Bike Tour last week. It was a pretty good day for a bike ride, and even better for munching your way around the neighborhood.

The Miami Herald sent a reporter/photographer, who took pictures at Bee Heaven Farm and Paradise Farms. Some pictures are published in the Homestead/South Dade print edition of Neighbors today. Or, look online to see a slideshow of the event.

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Proposed county budget would gut funding for agriculture

By Christina Veiga

There’s a long way between County Hall and the avocado groves of Redland, the rows of tomatoes in Homestead and the plant nurseries of deep South Miami-Dade.

But more than miles seem to separate county government from the county’s $2.7 billion agriculture industry, growers say.

The budget proposed last week by Mayor Carlos Gimenez guts or completely eliminates services to farmers, nursery growers and others in South Dade.

Agriculture folks say the dramatic reductions reflect how out-of-touch County Hall is when it comes to farming in Miami-Dade.

“If they truly understood the value and the asset that this is, I think they might show a little more respect for it,” said Debbie Brady, a spokeswoman for the Dade County Farm Bureau.

Under the proposed budget, the county would eliminate the Agricultural Manager’s Office, which serves as a liaison between growers and the government. Also gutted: the county’s funding for the cooperative extension office, a partnership with the University of Florida which provides research and education for farmers, and programs for youth and families.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/22/2326762/proposed-county-budget-would-gut.html 

Published in The Miami Herald, Sunday July 24, 2011.



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As farmers start counting their loses from a historic early freeze, Miami-Dade County officials sought to reassure local growers in the deep southern portion of the county that help is on the way.

Farmworkers, however, may not be so lucky.

County Manager George Burgess and Agriculture Manager Charles LaPradd walked through a field of badly damaged tropical produce and told farmers the U.S. Department of Agriculture is close to issuing a state-wide disaster declaration.

That would make low-interest loans and grants available to growers whose crops suffered in cold temperatures earlier this month.

“It’s very expensive to go through a freeze,” said LaPradd, who serves as a liaison between growers and county officials. “Without the declaration, you don’t get any help.”

To read more, click here.

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The Miami Herald has a nice long article about farmer Margie Pikarsky and the Redland Organics CSA. You can find it in today’s Tropical Life section.

Bee Heaven owner: Organic farming is good for the foodie — and the land


On a muggy summer day, as bruised clouds gather overhead, Margie Pikarsky wends her way through her five-acre farm pointing proudly at strips of cultivated land and a growing compost pile. A blue jay swoops across the field, then another. In the distance a cardinal trills.

“I feel very connected to nature,” Pikarsky, 57, says, and then adds with a wry laugh. “I have this Mother Earth thing going.”

Indeed. Pikarsky has been running Bee Heaven, an organic farm in South Dade’s Redland area, since 1995, when pesticide-free farming was more a boutique niche than thriving business. She harvests honey, collects organic eggs and grows familiar fruits and vegetables as well as exotics — mostly Asian greens — that do well in South Florida soil.

She sells them at farmer’s markets and through Redland Organics, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) initiative that allows people to buy “shares” upfront in return for weekly selections of organic produce during the growing season.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/22/1740121/mother-earth.html

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I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me if Bee Heaven has a farm stand where they can get fresh veggies, or if there’s a place serving local food. Now, finally, it looks like Redland is going to (officially) catch up with what family farmers in other parts of the country have been doing all along. Say hello to agri-tourism!

On March 2, the Miami-Dade County Commission passed three ordinances that would allow zoning changes (effective date March 12) to permit a distillery, bed and breakfast establishments, and value-added products made from locally produced agriculture (think jams, jellies, pickles) and other ancillary uses. Farmer Margie wrote about the ordinances on her blog, and even made the trip downtown to listen to the commission meeting when the ordinances were passed. (You can download the final text of the ordinances here here and here, and read them for yourself.)

Once related laws and regulations are sorted out, expect to see more farm dinners, more local products to eat and drink, more farm stands, and unique places to stay on farms.

Read more about this in The Miami Herald:

Redland farmers get ready to grow agri-tourism


Glenn and Christina Whitney are trying to decide how to expand their five-acre Redland farm and produce market into a tourist destination. Should they set up a microbrewery? Open a bed and breakfast? Increase their stock of U-pick fruits and vegetables in small hydroponic planters?

“We don’t close during off-season so we could do a lot more here,” Glenn Whitney said.

With the county pushing to create an agri-tourism hot spot in southern Miami-Dade, the couple could do any of those things.

Concerned about the mounting pressure on growers over the past decade to sell their land for urban uses, county officials have made it easier for those with small farms to attract visitors by emulating the tourism cachet of California’s Napa Valley and New York’s Finger Lakes region.

“If the owners can make money and create jobs, they’ll be more prone to keep their land in agriculture,” said Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Dennis Moss, whose district includes part of the Redland community.

Moss and eight other commissioners sponsored three recently approved ordinances that loosen restrictions on small-scale commercial ventures within the farms. The measures allow small wineries, breweries and distilleries that make drinks from produce grown onsite as well as bed-and-breakfasts with up to six guest rooms.

 Growers also will be able to buy each other’s fruits and vegetables and sell products made from them. The measures apply to all unincorporated agricultural area of the county’s southern reaches and to smaller pockets further north.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/23/1542315/redland-farmers-get-ready-to-grow.html

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