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Posts Tagged ‘Worden Farm’

They might be giants

One never knows what’s going to turn up in the barn on Friday, when it’s time to pack the CSA shares. Last week, it was zucchini and other squash from Worden Farm. Most were average sized, some maybe a bit on the small side. But, there were a few that Chris Worden slipped in to the order that were a bit larger — “as big as a baseball bat,” he warned Farmer Margie Pikarsky.

Farmer Margie with giant squash.

Farmer Margie with giant squash.

But Margie begged to differ. “This is a bowling pin,” she told me, holding up a yellow squash. “And these are clubs,” she added, holding up two giant green summer squash. They certainly looked like they had heft, and could hurt somebody’s noggin.

Zucchini the size of her arm.

Zucchini the size of her arm.

“It’s the size of your arm,” I pointed out. We put the vegetable side by side with Margie’s forearm, which normally appears sturdy and strong. But next to the giant green club, her forearm looked thin and frail. Now that is a monster of a vegetable!

Stuffing the boats.

Stuffing the boats.

But it didn’t stand a chance against the hungry farmer. Out came a big kitchen knife the size of a machete and whack hack smack the clubs were split in half. Their innards were carved out with a spoon to make boats, no, dugout canoes one could use to traverse the Everglades. Those insides were tossed into a bowl along with heirloom tomatoes, scallions, pepper jack cheese, crumbled organic corn chips, a few seasonings, and maybe a few other scraps that were lying around.

The stuffed zucchini baked in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes. Out came these delicious marvels, one per person. And that was all you needed to fill you up for dinner. Yum!

Bet you can't eat the whole thing!

Bet you can’t eat the whole thing!

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Worden Farm is looking forward to hosting Outstanding in the Field again this season on Sunday, January 19, 2014. The farm-to-table dinner promises to be a magical evening of rustic elegance, dining out in the field among the beautiful organic vegetables.

Chef Steve Iadevaia of River City Grill will create five amazing courses, with wine pairings, served on white tablecloths at sunset.

The evening’s program will also feature a walking tour with farm owners Chris and Eva Worden.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to support the work of Florida Organic Growers and Consumers (FOG). Executive Director Marty Mesh is the special guest, and he will discuss the organization’s education, outreach, research, and policy activities.

Tickets and more information are available on the Outstanding in the Field website.  Worden Farm is not handling registration for this event.

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure that travels around the country setting their long table in fields, farms, gardens, beaches and vineyards. Their mission is to promote local food and agriculture and get people out to the farm to see where their food is coming from and meet the producers.

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Schnozzle eggplants


Most Italian eggplants come in the same old boring oval shapes. But every once in a while you’ll meet a schnozzle eggplant — one with a nose. Here’s a whole family of schnozzles that sneaked aboard the truck from Worden Farm. (What do they feed their veggies over there anyway??) Looks like quite the party with conversations going on. Except for the poor guy over on the right with a turned up nose. Nobody’s talking to him… so lonely… Why do eggplants grow noses? Why not! Look for these characters at the Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market this Sunday, and strike up a conversation with them!

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Did you have a chance to see the documentary What’s Organic About Organic when it screened in West Palm Beach yesterday at the Slow Food Glades to Coast Leadership Meeting? If you missed it, or want to see it again, and are up for a drive to Punta Gorda, check this out:

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Activities at 6:00 p.m. Screening at 7:00 p.m.

Come make organic candied apples, enjoy organic popcorn and watch a film with the Director, Shelley Rogers and Character and Co-Producer, Marty Mesh! Community discussion will follow the screening. This event is a FUNdraiser for Florida Organic Growers (FOG). $20/person, kids under 12 enter free.

About the film:

Directed by Shelley Rogers, this film rings the alarm for the need to develop an ecological consciousness. The film illustrates that the organic food debate extends well beyond personal choice and into the realm of social responsibility. Each of the film’s characters is intimately connected to the organic world; they’re farmers, activists, and scientists. While many folks can easily endorse “organic,” the characters in the film take the discussion beyond just shopping for another eco-label.

As we glimpse into each of their lives, we see how organic agriculture has the potential to solve many of our environmental and health problems. The film will explore how organic farming can be used as a soil and air protection system, a healthy solution to toxic pollution, and an innovative means to combat global warming.

What’s Organic About “Organic”? delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. As the film moves from farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, we see the hidden costs of conventional agriculture. We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected. The film compels us to look forward, towards a new vision for our culture and encourages us to ask, “How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?”

Location:

Worden Farm
34900 Bermont Road
Punta Gorda, Florida 33982
(941) 637-4874
office@wordenfarm.com

If you’re not able to travel, buy your own DVD here. Put the word out and host your own screening. Each copy comes with a public screening license, and the cost varies by the size of the audience.

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You can buy heirloom tomato starts raised at Bee Heaven Farm this weekend at the Edible Garden Festival held at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

Here’s a list of what kinds of starts will be available this weekend.

Heirloom tomato starts: Mexico, Speckled Roman, Zapotec Pleated, Homestead 24, Taxi, Tigerella, Black Prince, Amish Gold (an awesome cross between Sun Gold and Amish Paste), Black Cherry, Brown Berry, Black Plum, Black Zebra, Cream Sausage, Green Zebra, Red Zebra, Black Zebra,  Large Red, Lime Green Salad, Italian Heirloom, Federle, Opalka, Orange Banana, Super Snow White Cherry, Pink Ping Pong, Striped German, Tiny Tim, Koralik, Dr. Carolyn, Tommy Toe, Sun Gold, Creole, Healani, Tropic, Jaune Flamme, Matt’s Wild Cherry, Peacevine, Podland Pink, Podland Pink, Yellow Pear and many more!

Several varieties of tomato starts are registered in the Slow Food Ark of Taste. They are: Cherokee Purple, Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter, Sudduth’s Brandywine, Amish Paste, Aunt Ruby’s German Green, German Pink, Valencia and Red Fig. For a food to be listed in the Ark of Taste, “it has to have something exceptionally good, like flavor, or be in danger of disappearing because not enough people are growing it anymore,” Margie explained.

Veggie & Herb Starts: Arugula, Listada de Gandia Eggplant, Florida Highbush Eggplant, Garlic Chives, and more.

First harvests from Redland Organics growers:

From Redland farms: Certified organic Avocados, Carambola, curryleaf, fresh dried allspice berries, Thai basil, jakfruit, Rachel’s Eggs, local Wildflower Farm Honey and Tropical Fruit Honey.

From Punta Gorda partner Worden Farm: Cukes, squash, radishes, turnips, dandelions, bok choy, scallions, collards, dill & basil.

Prices for any combination of starts are $3 each, buy 5 get an extra one free (6 for $15). Buy 15 get 5 more free (20 for $45). All new this season, Redland Organics will have a credit card terminal and a SNAP terminal to make your shopping easier.

Also at the Festival, Margie is scheduled to give a talk about growing tomatoes called Beefsteaks are BORING! “Get away from beefsteaks, they take too long to grow. Be more adventurous!” she said. “Cherry tomato varieties do so much better down here.”

Several Redland Organics growers, members and others connected to R. O. will be giving presentations. Here’s the select lineup:

Saturday Oct. 23

1:30 p.m. Green Garden Enchiladas cooking demo by Adri Garcia, Greenrocks Foods, LLC.  Mise en Place, LLC., Cooking Tent
2:00 p.m.
Cheese making demonstration with Hani Khouri, Corbin A

Sunday Oct. 24

10:30 a.m. Drip Irrigation workshop, Muriel Olivares, next to Butterfly Garden
11:30 a.m. Tomato time! Beefsteaks are BORING!  Margie Pikarsky, Garden House
12:00 p.m. Urban Food Forests, Marion Yanez, Corbin A
12:30 p.m. How to Make a Raised Bed Garden, Urban Oasis Project, next to Butterfly Garden
2:30 p.m. Your Edible Organic Garden, Ben Thacker, Garden House

Edible Garden Festival
Saturday October 23 and Sunday October 24, 2010
9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
10901 Old Cutler Road Coral Gables, FL 33156
Phone: 305-667-1651

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Greetings once again, Redland Ramblers! Guest blogger Melissa Contreras here again, founder of Urban Oasis Project, urban micro-farmer.  I’m back to tell you about day two of my trip to the Small Farms/Alternative Enterprises Conference last weekend.

After rising early, we all piled into Margie’s van and headed over to the Osceola Heritage Park for the official beginning of the conference. Since I know that all you local foodies want to know about the food, let me start with breakfast: rather light fare was provided at the conference, but like our full lunch, it consisted mostly of Florida farm-grown food. A deep dish frittata of free-range Florida eggs with cream from grass-fed cows was served, accompanied by Lambeth Groves’ orange juice, cold and fresh, a perfect blend of sweetness and acidity. We were treated to Florida’s “other juice,” Muscadine grape juice: crisp, lightly sweet, and perfumed of dewy-misted grapes, from Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard in the high country of Clermont. Certified organic blueberries from Gail and Mike Waldron of Bay Lake Blueberries in Marion County mingled with mangos from our own Dr. Jonathan Crane of TREC in Homestead.  Fair trade coffee was provided by Sweetwater Organic Coffee Company of Gainesville, which purchases from Rainforest Alliance-certified small farmers in the Tropics. For our coffee, we actually had the luxury of choosing milk from 2 small dairies, Dakin Dairy Farm of Myakka City, or Kurtz and Sons Dairy of Live Oak. Bubba and Leslie Kurtz run a “grass-fed dairy farmstead” of Jerseys and Shorthorns, and work to keep their milk as close to Nature as possible. This is not a business slogan for them, it is a way of life. After coffee finished with Nature’s perfect food, I was ready for a full day of conference and break-out sessions.

We all headed over to the big lunch room for the opening session. Welcomes came from kick-off speakers Dr. Joan Dusky of UF/IFAS in Gainesville and Dr. Ray Mobley of FAMU in Tallahassee, a co-sponsor of the event. FAMU and UF and are Florida’s 2 land grant universities, dating back to the ugly days of segregation, when black people went to one university and white people went to another. (Beside the obvious injustice of this, it begs another question- where did the original inhabitants of this land go? But that is another story.)

Next came the Florida Innovative Farmer Awards! These awards are given to farmers and ranchers who are leaders and innovators, based on the following criteria (quote):

  • Success in making farming systems more profitable over the long term.
  • Ability to use farming practices that enhance, rather than harm, natural resources.
  • Leading -or participating in-  activities that support viable communities, either through economic development or contribution to regional food systems.
  • Effective outreach and/or education about sustainable agriculture ideas and practices to others, such as producers, community leaders, agricultural educators, and the general public.

There were 3 winners of these awards, the first being Chris and Eva Worden of Worden Farm in Punta Gorda. They got up on the stage in front of their small farmer peers, and were given a well-deserved round of thunderous applause. Both are Ivy League educated, Yale and Cornell, but are very down-to-Earth and in love with their vocation and avocation, farming. Upon acceptance of the award, Chris said to the audience, “We love to grow crops.” They grow 50 different varieties, mostly vegetables, some fruit, and do it organically, using soil and water conservation techniques. They have a CSA, sell at farmers markets, have workshops at the farm, art programs, and “grow future farmers and gardeners.” They help community gardens, about which Eva knows a thing or two, having authored papers on the subject. She said “anyone who works with community gardens knows that it is easy to start one, harder to maintain them, so we stay with them, encourage and help them.” Eva explained that they “grow great crops, connect with the local community, and promote the viability of the family farm.”

(L-R) Christine Kelly-Begazo, Eva Worden, Chris Worden. The Wordens receiving the Florida Innovative Farmer Award, a happy achievement for the work they love!

I went to Worden Farm last year with Farmer Margie and the WWOOFers, and my folks from Urban Oasis Project. We had a tour of the farm, and got to see the amazing results Chris and Eva get from good stewardship of their 55 certified organic acres. Because they supply some of the food in Redland Organics CSA shares, I thanked them for feeding my family. By the way, have you thanked your farmer lately?

The second recipient of the awards was Trish Strawn of Deep Creek Ranch in Deland. Trish and her dad, David, work the family farm which has been around since 1883. Trish said they got into grass-fed beef because her dad had a health issue, but she said if you ask her dad, he’ll say it’s because they’re “cutting edge.” The room broke into laughter.Trish is Co-Leader of Slow Food Orlando, and a founding member of the Florida Food Policy Council. She is also a lot of fun to go out and have a beer and a lot of good laughs with, which we did later that night. Trish and her dad are the real deal. Joel Salatin must be proud.

The third award recipient was George Owens of Chipley, FL, who has a mixed cattle and timber/forestry operation, or silvopasture. George could not be present for the awards because his son had just come home for a short visit from Afghanistan. All were very happy for him. The award presenters said “we tend toward a monoculture system, so when we get someone who does integration, we want to encourage it.”  I am a believer in agroecology, and it is very encouraging to hear agricultural professionals talk about moving away from monocultures!

I was very excited to hear my friend Will Allen of Growing Power, Inc. give the keynote address. Unfortunately, Will had some knee surgery which made it impossible for him to travel to the conference, though that was the original plan. Technology to the rescue! The AV geeks got the satellite/internet hookup to Will Allen up and running, and we were able to see and hear him on 2 large screens, and he was able to see and hear us.

That's me with Will Allen at a Growing Power workshop last year. Will loves scooping Lake Perch out of his aquaponics tanks! He loved to fish when he lived in Miami too.

Larger than life on the big screen, Will spoke about the history of Growing Power, all the amazing past, present and future projects they have, and was enthusiastic and inspirational as always. Larger than life is a profound statement when referring to Will Allen, who stands tall at 6’7” and weighs 230 pounds. Will played basketball for the University of Miami in the 1970’s, and still wears an orange and green UM cap with his signature royal blue Growing Power sweatshirt with cut-off sleeves. His biceps are bigger than many supermodel’s waists, and he keeps them that way by working hard every day, growing food for Milwaukee’s inner city on 3 acres, 2 blocks from one of the country’s largest low-income housing projects, in what was an urban food desert until Will’s good food movement became a good food revolution. Will is not an armchair CEO. He gets his hands dirty. He loves farming like Chris and Eva Worden do. I think some of us are born agrarian. It is not a choice, it’s in our blood, and it’s who we are.

Will showed many slides of Growing Power in action: composting thousands of tons of Milwakee’s food and brewery waste and “growing soil” as he says; passing compost through the digestive tracts of thousands of worms, creating rich worm castings fertilizer; raising tilapia and lake perch in the bottom level of a 3-tiered, homemade aquaponics system, with watercress growing in the middle layer, and tomatoes on top; raising chickens and bees in the city; providing a safe after-school space for urban youth to learn green job skills; feeding senior citizens healthy food with a “food basket” CSA; providing a retail grocery space with their fresh salad greens, eggs, and so much more to the neighborhood in which Growing Power’s urban farm resides.

“If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community.  I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system.”

Will is a major inspiration for what we do in Urban Oasis Project, doing our part to make good, clean, safe, healthy, and local food accessible to all. Access to real food should be a right of all citizens. Will says “we can’t wait around for government or others to do it, we have to do it, just start doing things.”

I could go on about Will Allen forever, but I’ll stop here. Please come back for Part Three, highlighting local food lunches and conference workshops!

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Chris and Eva Worden of Worden Farm in Punta Gorda were recently featured on NBC Nightly News.

Click here for the Nightly News archives page.

Then, go to March 2 and click on the link “Organic Farm Markets Draw Crowds.” The video will pop up in a separate window.

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