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Posts Tagged ‘Redland Organics’

Several months ago, I blogged about Jaideep Hardikar, a journalist from India who was here in the States on a fellowship. He wrote the article The Farmers Among Us that was published in the Sun-Sentinel. The original article profiled several growers who belong to Redland Organics, but is no longer available online. A shortened version was published on the front page of the Business section of the Miami Herald on Tuesday Oct. 13th. You can read it here.

According to the article,

Across the United States, consumers are increasingly buying directly from local farms through a model started decades ago in Switzerland and Japan now known as Community Supported Agriculture.

Nationwide, sales from farms directly to consumers — including CSA and farmers markets — jumped 49 percent from $812 million in 2002 to $1.2 billion in 2007, according to the most recent Department of Agriculture census. That’s twice as many sales as a decade earlier, the federal agency said.

Estimates of active CSA programs vary, but the 2007 U.S. census found more than 12,500 farms selling directly to consumers in every state. The National Center for Appropriate Technology, an agriculture think tank, estimates CSA programs supplied food to more than 270,000 households last year.

Farmer Margie told me that last season she had 440 CSA members, and has 465 members this season. She started Redland Organics CSA in 2002 with only 25 members. There are at least 100 on the waiting list. Turnover varies, maybe about 35%. Margie also mentioned that in January there will probably be a very limited number of trial shares available, and only to those folks already asking about them. She is pretty much at full capacity already. If you’re not a CSA member, but still want to get the same food, you can shop at the South Florida Farmers Market in Pinecrest.

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The Edible Garden Festival at Fairchild

The Edible Garden Festival at Fairchild

Some people have been asking me, licking their lips, “So, what’s good from the farm this week?” Their appetites were whetted by all the fabulous fruit we’ve been having this summer. Now they’re ready for veggies. Now? You gotta be kidding! There’s nothing growing right now except for weeds! While the rest of the country in latitudes to the north of us are at the peak of their season, reveling in all kinds of veggie goodness, we’re sweltering in the heat swatting mosquitos and gnawing on the last of the fruit. There just isn’t that much growing right now. Too hot, too much rain, too many bugs, too many weeds. (Wonder how the pioneer settlers got by during the cruel late summer/early fall months.) This time of year is a food desert comparable to the dead of winter in Maine (but without the permafrost).

But October and fall and slightly cooler temperatures are around the corner, and that’s going to be a good time to start planting your own food garden. This Sunday’s Miami Herald had an extremely informative article in the Home and Design section about planting gardens in our area. It’s the second of what I hope is an ongoing series of articles written by the good folks at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.

By the way, don’t forget to check out the Edible Garden Festival on Oct. 24-25 at Fairchild. Look for the Redland Organics tent!

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Bee Heaven Farm ~ Redland Organics

 End of Summer Brunch 

 

Join us down on the farm for a Locavore’s dream!

End of Summer Brunch at Possum Trot 
Sunday, September 27th, 2009 at 10:30am
 
in an informal Old Florida homestead 40-acre garden setting
featuring 100% locally-grown*
organic produce from Bee Heaven Farm and our Redland Organics farm partners. (Some items are not certified organic, but are pesticide-free.)
*except-oil, flour, salt, baking powder/soda
 
Passionately prepared by
Robert, The Cantankerous Chef
~~~ MENU ~~~
 
Broiled Avocado halves stuffed with Betel-leaf Farm Egg Scramble
and Nubian Goat Cheese Topping
 
Bee Heaven Farm Smoked Eggs
 
Boiled Salted Jakfruit Seeds
 
Roasted Rosemary-scented Roots Medley
 
Sautéed Vegetable Amaranth (Callaloo) with scallions
 
Allspice Muffins with Nubian Goat Honey Labneh
 
Honeyed Seasonal Farm Fruits 
 
Minted Passion Fruit Ice
 
Tropical Juice selection ~ Cas, Passionfruit & Carambola
 
Fresh Lemongrass Iced Tea
~~~ * ~~~

 Cost: Adults $28; Children 6-12 $14; Children 3-5 $5; 2 and under free

Please reserve early – Attendance limited to 60
 
Proceeds help support our farm internship program and local family farms

     

We hope you and your family join us for this amazing locavore feast!
Online reservations and payment required by September 22nd. Click here to RSVP & pay now, or type the following into your browser:  http://www.redlandorganics.com/EOSbrunch.htm
 
 Possum Trot is located next door to Monkey Jungle. Directions to the farm will be provided with your confirmation, so please be sure to print it out!
 
Sincerely,
 Margie's signature

Bee Heaven Farm ~ Redland Organics

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<nag> Have you written to your county commissioner about the proposed budget cut that would close the doors to the Miami-Dade Cooperative Extension Service? No? Still thinking about it? Maybe it’s just not that important or relevant? I mean, how could it possibly tie in with the tasty, fresh, local and organic veggies you’re going to eat from Redland Organics in a few months? Extension has a LOT to do with it! </nag>

Farmer Margie wouldn’t be where she is if it weren’t for the training that she got from Extension over the years. In her own words:

I started contacting Extension way back in the 70’s when I was in college. I got information on vegetable gardening for Florida, castrating & butchering a pig, raising and butchering chickens, canning, pickling and preserving information, how to take care of my fruit trees, and put it all to good use. In the early 80’s, I took the Master Gardener training, and received in-depth information about growing plants.

In the mid 90’s, when we started the farm, I looked to Extension to get advice on establishing my avocado grove. Later, when we expanded to vegetables, I consulted with them on variety selection, growing techniques, pest control, fertilizing. I’ve attended numerous workshops providing training on irrigation, growing, pests, diseases, etc etc etc.

Extension has been very responsive in helping develop training programs for folks interested in converting to organic productions. I always find good workshops and field days that I can bring my farm interns and apprentices to learn about growing in this tropical climate.

So… what are you waiting for? The list of commissioners is right here. Start writing!

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John Ikerd

John Ikerd

Back again to the Small Farms Conference. (Nope, I’m not done blogging about it.) The keynote speaker was Dr. John Ikerd, author and Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri, whose speech was Small Farms in the Year 2050. (An earlier version is on his web site.) According to the conference bio, Ikerd “came to the conclusion that not only was American agriculture not sustainable but neither was the American economy or society.” He is a huge advocate of sustainability and local food systems, and has written a great number of papers with that perspective.

Ikerd posed the question, “Can farmers meet the challenges of creating a sustainable agricultural system? Innovative farmers commit to meet needs of the present without diminishing future productivity.” He said that the current industrial approach to farming is simply not sustainable, and that lack of sustainability is a major part of a growing global economic problem. Industrial farming uses an enormous amount of fossil fuel, generates over one fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and maintains an income disparity for farm and food workers working for low wages.

So what’s the solution? According to Ikerd, the local food movement (which evolved from the organic food movement in the 1980s) has more potential for transforming society. It requires a fundamental change in thinking, primarily that local growers are producing food that is good, clean and fair, not a commodity that large, industrial farmers produce.

Sustainable agriculture is based on people compared to industrial agriculture which is centered on capital and technology. Ikerd described local farmers who choose to grow high-quality food that is natural, organic and sustainable. They work with the forces of nature, and fit their farm to the land and climate. Their crops are diverse and complex because nature is diverse and complex.

In 2050, Ikerd predicted a connectedness among local growers who create regional liaisons among themselves to market their crops, forming the backbone of a national network of community-based food systems. Out of local/regional connectedness comes farmers markets, CSAs, farmers selling directly to restaurants and markets, farm-to-school and farm-to-hosptal programs. Ikerd mentioned Alice Waters and her legendary restaurant Chez Panisse which set the trend decades ago by serving fresh, local and seasonal food from local and sustainable farms.

He also predicted in 2050 the major trend in food marketing is targeted toward a specific group of consumers, not the mainstream. Sustainable farmers work to build relationships with their customers instead of making a quick sale. Their customers are not naive hippies, but conscious buyers looking for food with ecological and social integrity, and expect farmers to have the same integrity and care about their customers and society. Ultimately there is a sense of connectedness — between growers and their customers, and between customers connecting with their food and the place it comes from — which ensures ecological and sustainable integrity.

Ikerd’s speech was full of fire and brimstone, and got a standing ovation. It was fascinating to hear Ikerd’s predictions for a new food system. But it’s not that far off into the future. Something similar to what he describes is happening right in our own backyard. Redland Organics is a group of local organic and natural growers that Farmer Margie organized to market their diverse foods directly to the CSA members and buyers at the farmers market. You could say that Redland Organics is cutting edge.

“Change happens one person at a time. Never underestimate the power of individual choices,” Ikerd said. So, here’s some questions to chew on: What are your choices? How are you making changes? How do you connect with your food and where it comes from? Most importantly, have you returned to the common sense pursuit of happiness?

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