Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet!

In 2007, I began to get lots of questions about growing food to help save money. Then, while working on my new book, Edible Landscaping, I had an aha! moment. As I was assembling statistics to show the wastefulness of the American obsession with turf, I wondered what the productivity of just a small part of American lawns would be if they were planted with edibles instead of grass.
I wanted to pull together some figures to share with everyone, but calls to seed companies and online searches didn’t turn up any data for home harvest amounts — only figures for commercial agriculture. From experience, I knew those commercial numbers were much too low compared with what home gardeners can get. For example, home gardeners don’t toss out misshapen cucumbers and sunburned tomatoes. They pick greens by the leaf rather than the head, and harvests aren’t limited to two or three times a season.
For years, I’ve known that my California garden produces a lot. By late summer, my kitchen table overflows with tomatoes, peppers and squash; in spring and fall, it’s broccoli, lettuces and beets. But I’d never thought to quantify it. So I decided to grow a trial garden and tally up the harvests to get a rough idea of what some popular vegetables can produce.

City urged to lift St. Francis meal limit

Gainesville planning board cites number of hungry residents in advising commissioners

It is time for Gainesville to eliminate the restrictions on how many meals a day the St. Francis House homeless shelter and soup kitchen may serve, a city advisory board says.

Monday night, the Gainesville Planning Board decided that, given the number of homeless and needy people in the community, the application before them to waive the 130-meal limit on three holidays each year did not go far enough.

Toward the end of a marathon meeting, their recommendation was to expand on that and do away with the meal limit on all 11 national holidays.

While there currently is no active application to do so, the Planning Board then went further and recommended that the City Commission consider the total elimination of any meal limit for the St. Francis House, which is south of downtown on Main Street.

Planning Board member Adrian Taylor, the pastor of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, recommended the repeal of the meal limit, while acknowledging the debate over the shelter is a « polarizing and difficult issue » for the city’s elected officials.

The meal limit at the St. Francis House has pitted some downtown merchants and homeless advocates against each other for more than a decade. Planning Board Chairman Bob Cohen noted the conflict could stretch another 10 years if a balance between the two sides is not struck.

COVER- Person of the Year: Joel Salatin’s salad days

It’s been quite a year for Joel Salatin. The Shenandoah Valley farmer starred as himself in two popular food documentary films and received a $100,000 award from the Heinz Family Foundation for his creative, eco-friendly practices.

“The big corporate farms can no longer tell us that pollution will always come with farming,” said Foundation leader Teresa Heinz. “Mr. Salatin’s work shows us that is not true, because on his lands, farming is no longer part of the problem; it is part of the solution to a better environment.”

While Salatin’s solutions have long been known in Central Virginia, he received a bumper crop of publicity in Michael Pollan’s 2006 best seller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. In turn, the producers of the documentaries Food, Inc. and Fresh helped make him America’s most famous farmer since George Washington Carver.

“I first experienced him in the 1980s when he premiered his idea of an ‘eggmobile’ at the first [Virginia Association for Biological Farming] conference,” says Tanya Denckla Cobb, associate director of UVA’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation. “He was a firebrand and electrified the crowd, receiving a standing ovation. Nobody had ever seen the likes of him. Now the rest of the world is starting to catch up.”

46 restaurants and stores
Since Salatin declines to ship his food and discourages everyone else from buying food from sources more than 100 miles from home, his success has become Central Virginia’s good fortune.

Of the 46 restaurants and food stores in Virginia where Salatin’s salad bar beef, pork, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits are available, half are in the Charlottesville area. Last year, gourmet burrito chain Chipotle, which has 900 locations in the U.S. and Canada, chose its Charlottesville store to begin sourcing local pork because of its proximity to Salatin’s Polyface Farms. Today, 100 percent of the Charlottesville Chipotle’s pork is supplied by Polyface.

Slow Food Saturday

After a leisurely walk around the garden this morning with a good friend of mine, we decided it would be the perfect day to make use of all the Datil Peppers that were covering the 6 bushes I have planted. Within a matter of minutes my 35 year old English Garden Trug was filled with vine ripened, golden Datil Peppers and we were off to the kitchen to make Caribbean Datil Pepper Jelly, and Caribbean Datil Pepper Sauce, my personal recipes. Food miles involved, 75 feet.

Slow Food : Inching towards Food Sovereignty?

Recently, Carlos Petrini, the founder of the Slow Foods movement, has been incorporating the concept of food sovereignty in his social discourse. To some food activists, this is a logical consequence of Slow Food’s opposition to the industrial agi-foods complexes controlling our food systems. Others, dismiss the statements as superficial (and the movement as elitist). Still others find Petrini’s position a welcome surprise, and await further developments. Can Slow Food—a movement reknowned for it’s gourmet food and well-heeled consumers advance a broad-based notion like food sovereignty?

Whole Food Market and United Natural Foods, Inc.: Undermining Our Organic Future

After four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $25 billion “certified organic” food and farming sector. This consumer-driven movement, under steady attack by the biotech and Big Food lobby, with little or no help from government, has managed to create a healthy and sustainable alternative to America’s disastrous, chemical and energy-intensive system of industrial agriculture. However, the annual $50 billion natural food and products industry is threatening to undermine the organic movement by flooding the marketplace with conventional products greenwashed with “natural” labeling. « Natural, » in the overwhelming majority of cases, translates to « conventional-with-a-green-veneer. » Natural products are routinely produced using pesticides, chemical fertilizer, hormones, genetic engineering, and sewage sludge. « Natural », »all-natural, » and « sustainable, » products in most cases are neither backed up by rules and regulations, nor a Third Party certifier. These are label claims that are neither policed nor monitored. For an evaluation of eco-labels see the Consumers Union Eco-Label website.

15 Homemade Organic Gardening Sprays and Concoctions That Actually Work

Safe, organic garden remedies that are easy on your wallet and the Earth.

Back when I started my first garden, a certain celebrity gardener and his books of gardening concoctions were all the rage. You could tell when it was fundraising time on our local PBS station because they’d have him live in the studio, telling us that all we had to do was use items such as baby shampoo, instant tea, and whiskey, and we’d be able to grow our best garden ever. Those claims seemed pretty far-fetched to me back then, and now that I know a little more, I know that several of those concoctions were either just plain bad ideas or that one item in his recipe was the one that was actually doing the work while the rest were either unnecessary or possibly harmful to plants, insects and other soil-dwelling organisms. So please know that my b.s. radar is at high alert when I see anything about homemade gardening sprays and the like. With that in mind, here are 15 homemade, organic solutions for garden problems. I use them, and they work. And not one of them requires you to pour whiskey on your plants.

Crop Drop Set for Oct. 24th

Campus Ministry is proud to announce the up- coming Crop Drop hosted by the Society of St. Andrew, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, and University Lutheran Church and Campus Ministry. The Society of St. Andrew is a group that educates, organizes, and acts to create change and end hunger.

So, in the spirit of the Society of St. Andrew let’s get educated so we can effectively organize and act to help end hunger in our area!

Please help us work towards an end to hunger (at least for a few days) in our community. The Crop Drop will take place at ULC ( see location map ) on Saturday, Oct. 24th, from 9 a.m. until lunchtime (which will be provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans).
We have plenty of openings that need to be filled for our Crop Drop to be a success! About 25,000 pounds of crops will be dropped onto the parking lot for us to bag. We will have officially 45,000 lbs of white potatoes and some locally gleaned corn and cucumbers!

A variety of other churches, organizations, and on-campus groups will help, but we need your help too! There are opportunities in manual labor, in the kitchen and lunch crew, in hospitality, and others. Please see Emily Robinson or email: ulc.cropdrop@gmail.com if you or anyone you know would be able to help out! Read more on the Crop Drop Information Sheet and download a flyer.

Supporters defend organic food …

LONDON – Organic food supporters defended the benefits of naturally grown produce on Friday, after a report suggested there are no significant health advantages from it.

In a study published in a U.S. journal this week, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found there were no major differences between organic and conventionally-produced food. “A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock, said Dr. Alan Dangour, principal author of the study. “But these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance.”

Soil, the only thread on which civilization can exist…

I read the quote above the other day by Joel Salatin, whom I have mentioned in these articles recently. It brings home something I have believed in for the past 40 years back to the forefront, that we as a civilization, depend on such a thin blanket of life called topsoil, to grow a great percentage of our food crops that feed the world.

I watch, often in amazement, how industrial farming has, over the years, gone from caring about the soil and the necessity for it’s health, to caring more about the crop that grows in it. Fertilizers are developed to be quickly absorbed by the plants to promote quick growth, bypassing the original interaction between soil, bacteria, organic matter and the plant itself. As more crops are grown, year after year, soil nutrition and viability is depleted, leaving the soil as nothing more than a foundation for the plant to support itself. Broken is the complex relationship once shared by plant and soil.

Sustainable farming and gardening makes this relationship a priority and not only protects those fragile few inches we so depend on, but renews and invigorates the soil and brings it’s role back to prominence. Soil is alive. The combination of water, air, minerals and organic matter are the host to numerous forms of life from bacteria to worms and insects that all contribute to the breakdown and release of nutrients, ready to be absorbed by the roots threading their way into the living sponge we call topsoil, humus or compost. By focusing on soil health and structure, our efforts are rewarded with healthy nutritious crops. When we focus on the crop, and neglect the soil, more artificial fertilizers are needed, plants become weaker and more susceptible to insect and disease attack, roots aren’t encouraged to go deep into the soil because there is nothing there to attract them, thus shallow rooted crops need more water and the soil becomes just a support system to the plant rather than a feeding reservoir and important player in the health of the crop.

Your local farmers, using sustainable farming practices, are our stewards of the soil. Talk to them about it and how they build their soil to grow our food. Get to know farmers like you know your children’s school teachers, after all, they are feeding you and your children and are a key link to your health, our community’s health and our planet’s health. Support them!

Meet the face behind Polyface

« Having re-read, over the weekend ( actually re-listened to the audiobook ) The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan, I felt it would be prudent to introduce those of you who may not have yet read any of Michael Pollan’s books to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. Joel is an Organic Farmer being featured in many books, movies and articles about local food and sustainable, organic farming, and the contrast between industrial treatment of animals on factory farms and the humane treatment offered by those like Polyface Farms. Since I am not a writer I will simply encourage you to read some of Michael Pollan’s books, watch some of the movie’s like Food, Inc and Fresh, and watch some of the short clips on YouTube about « factory Farming » and the contrast to sustainable organic farms like Polyface Farm. I’ll let Joel speak for himself… »

Give a GIFT of Food

Often during the holidays, many spend time trying to figure out the gift to get someone that seems to have everything. This year you may want to consider giving a gift to those that may have little. Florida Organic Growershas a program to help you do just that … Gainesville Initiative for Tasty Gardens (GIFT Gardens). Visit their website and see how they are making a difference in helping people learn to produce some of their own food and how you can be part of the giving!

For gardeners, fall’s harvest starts with today’s work

August is a month to be endured.

It’s hot. It doesn’t have a national holiday or even a good party day like St. Patrick’s or Cinco de Mayo. It’s very hot. School starts back again (OK, that one’s for the kids).

And did we mention August tends to be beastly hot?

Even in the garden, there’s not much happening, producewise — though if you’re tuned into the growing calendar, August is the month to get your garden ready for an autumnal bounty of beets and broccoli, peas and potatoes.

Creating a Local Food System – Where do we Start?

« The Transition Network (TN) has developed a new and exciting process to help communities move from oil dependency to local resilience. There is a four-page introduction to the TN process at the end of this document. To me TN process is a breathe of fresh air because it focuses on positive visioning and developing positive relationships throughout the community. It’s creative and fun, it focuses on both the inner and outer transition we must embrace and it respects the rights of individuals. We may be able to use this process to help us get started in creating a local food system.

Over 300 communities around the world are Transition Towns – officially embraced the process. Over 1,000 communities are “mulling it over” – thinking about it, gathering support, etc..

I think three of the steps in the TN process offer opportunities for us to get started in creating a local food system. I think these steps will help us create excitement in the community to embrace the thought of creating a local food system. I’ve cut and pasted short descriptions of each of these three steps and followed each with some ideas of how we might get started from the ECSC Report, the Google spreadsheet we created, some ideas I found on the internet and some ideas of my own.

Take a look at what I’ve pulled together and bring your ideas and questions to our next meeting. »

This stage will identify your key allies, build crucial networks and prepare the community in general for the launch of your Transition initiative.

For an effective Energy Descent Action plan to evolve, its participants have to understand the potential effects of both Peak Oil and Climate Change – the former demanding a drive to increase community resilience, the later a reduction in carbon footprint.

Screenings of key movies (Inconvenient Truth, End of Suburbia, Crude Awakening, Power of Community) along with panels of “experts” to answer questions at the end of each, are very effective. (See Transition Initiatives Primer (1MB pdf) for the lowdown on all the movies – where to get them, trailers, what the licencing regulations are, doomster rating vs solution rating)

Talks by experts in their field of climate change, peak oil and community solutions can be very inspiring. Articles in local papers, interviews on local radio, presentations to existing groups, including schools, are also part of the toolkit to get people aware of the issues and ready to start thinking of solutions.

Develop visible practical manifestations of the project

It is essential that you avoid any sense that your project is just a talking shop where people sit around and draw up wish lists. Your project needs, from an early stage, to begin to create practical, high visibility manifestations in your community. These will significantly enhance people’s perceptions of the project and also their willingness to participate.

There’s a difficult balance to achieve here during these early stages. You need to demonstrate visible progress, without embarking on projects that will ultimately have no place on the Energy Descent Action Plan. In Transition Town Totnes, the Food group launched a project called ‘Totnes- the Nut Capital of Britain’ which aims to get as much infrastructure of edible nut bearing trees into the town as possible. With the help of the Mayor, we recently planted some trees in the centre of town, and made it a high profile event.

Coordinate a study to tell us how much land and what type land is needed to fulfill our caloric requirements.
Create a sustainable food system education program to make citizens aware of the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. If citizens know more about the food challenges ahead they will make changes and encourage community leaders to move in the direction of creating a sustainable food system.
Provide an estimate of the number and type of food processing facilities needed. This information would provide the business community with information about future business opportunities and they will become involved in the creation of a food system.
Develop a media campaign to encourage people to become master gardeners.

Facilitate the Great Reskilling
If we are to respond to peak oil and climate change by moving to a lower energy future and relocalising our communities, then we’ll need many of the skills that our grandparents took for granted. One of the most useful things a Transition Town project can do is to reverse the “great deskilling” of the last 40 years by offering training in a range of some of these skills.

Research among the older members of our communities is instructive – after all, they lived before the throwaway society took hold and they understand what a lower energy society might look like. Some examples of courses are: repairing, cooking, cycle maintenance, natural building, loft insulation, dyeing, herbal walks, gardening, basic home energy efficiency, making sour doughs, practical food growing (the list is endless).

Your Great Reskilling programme will give people a powerful realisation of their own ability to solve problems, to achieve practical results and to work cooperatively alongside other people. They’ll also appreciate that learning can truly be fun.

Facilitate The Great Reskilling

Today our community is loosing jobs and creating new jobs is important. I think we can capture the attention of many people in the community if we can show how creating a local food system can bring many jobs to our community.

How many jobs would be created if we moved to a sustainable food system? Typically a community that produces most of it’s own food employs 20% of its population in the food system. In Alachua County that would represent about 48,000 people employed in activities associated with producing, marketing and distributing food.

To give members of the community, business leaders and political leaders a feel for the job opportunities, our group could do some preliminary research to identify:
What skills are needed?
Who will do the re-training?
What’s a typical food system skill-set look like?
Would the skill set required here be different in another region?
What are the job titles, salaries, job descriptions and skills required?
How many jobs would likely be created?

Publishing this information could encourage members of the community to start thinking about investing in a food system, reskilling themselves, developing education programs and encouraging local leaders to support the food system and reskilling activities.

Answers to many food system questions reside in the memories of elders within our community and in the archives of libraries and other public institutions. We can pursue this information by:

Interviewing seniors who lived in a time where food production was a major industry in this area. Ask about the skills required to grow, distribute and market food in the past.
Researching historical records to find out which crops grew best in the past. With this information we can best design a food system to accommodate these crops.
Researching methods of training farmers and other food system employees.

Grow Gainesville

“To increase our community’s ability to produce and share food grown in urban gardens by facilitating the networking of gardeners, resources, and information in a way that is easily affordable and accessible to all.”

Urban gardens are growing in neighborhoods across Alachua County: in backyards and community gardens, and at schools and community centers. They provide us with fresh, nutritious produce, right outside our front and back doors, and help to increase food security in our community while beautifying neighborhoods.

With this in mind, Florida Organic Growers funded by the Alachua Community Agency Partnership Program, is working with community partners including Slow Food Gainesville, Abundant Edible Landscapes, Edible Plant Project, Santa Fe College, and the University of Florida and many others to form Grow Gainesville, an urban gardening network. Grow Gainesville aims to help bring gardeners together and provide access to the supplies, resources, and knowledge needed to grow one’s own food.

Grow Gainesville is open to all as a member-driven organization supported by affordable annual membership dues. These dues help cover the costs of operating the network and ensure active participation from members. A large part of Grow Gainesville will be its own Garden Resource Program, modeled after Detroit Agriculture’s offerings. Members receive resources including seeds and access to tools and will be part of a growing network of gardeners and advocates working to promote and encourage urban agriculture and a thriving local food system.

Member Spotlight – Melissa DeSa

Meet Melissa:

My parents had a garden when I was growing up, although admittedly I didn’t help out much. I remember them both proudly posing for photos next to 6-foot tomato plants (I lived in Canada, where you can grow giant tomatoes), and our dog running around the yard with old corn husks.

I’ve always loved nature and plants, so when I finally had my own little piece of ground to play with in Gainesville I gave it a shot, just throwing stuff in the ground and learning by trial and error and lots of reading (which I still do!). Six years later, my garden has grown from a small experimental square to taking up a significant portion of both my front and back yard.

I don’t think I could be happy without a garden to tend; it keeps me fit, gets me outdoors, stimulates learning, hides my white Canadian skin under a tan, keeps me in tune with the rhythms of the Earth, and in the end I am rewarded with nourishing food.

SNAP cardholders can now buy fresh farm products

Local farmers’ markets will soon have another payment option: SNAP benefit cards.

The program, paid for by a Florida Organic Growers grant, will allow low-income county residents to use their SNAP cards, formerly food stamps, to buy fresh and locally produced foods.

Florida Organic Growers will use EBT technology at the Union Street Farmers’ Market and Alachua County Farmers’ Market.

Christine Hale, the group’s education and outreach director, said she hopes access to fresh produce will change food habits.

« Obesity is just through the roof in our community, » she said. « If we can get them eating fresh fruits and veggies at a young age, we can curb that obesity. »

The High Springs Farmers’ Market is the only market in the county to currently use EBT.

The program should begin by mid-December. Florida Organic Growers will operate the EBT scanner at both markets. Users would designate an amount to spend, and the group will double it. Users could then spend their tokens on products allowed by the SNAP program, and vendors would redeem their tokens at the nonprofit’s booth.

The group also will be enrolling people for SNAP benefits.

S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED! FOOD SAFETY DECISION TIME IS NOW

Call Your Senators Today To Defend Family Farms, Value-Added Processing, and Local and Regional Food Systems

Debate and voting on The Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) is expected to begin on the Senate floor Nov. 17. The bill takes important steps to improve corporate food safety rules, but it is not appropriate for small farms and processors that sell to restaurants, food co-ops, groceries, schools, wholesalers and at farm stands and farmers markets. Those farms and processors should have food safety plans appropriate to their size and processing practices.

It is critical that food safety protections don’t inadvertently harm family farms and value-added processing, and the growing investments in local and regional food systems by imposing expensive, one-size-fits-all rules.

Two amendments will be offered when S. 510 comes to the floor and both are essential to protecting this important new engine for economic growth in rural communities and to grow the supply of locally grown food.

Please call your Senators and ask them to:

Vote for the Manager’s Amendment
Vote for the Tester-Hagan Amendment

It’s easy to call:
Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.

The message is simple: « I am a constituent of Senator and I am calling to ask him/her to vote for the Manager’s Amendment and the Tester-Hagan Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act. We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to more local and regional food sourcing. Size and practice appropriate food safety regulation for small and mid-sized farms and processors is vital to economic recovery, public health and nutritional well-being. »

RESOURCES: A Sustainable Agriculture Perspective on Food Safety

What’s in the Tester-Hagan Amendment?
The Tester-Hagan amendment will improve food safety outcomes by creating size-appropriate requirements and less costly compliance alternatives. The amendment will:

(1) Clarify existing law that says that farmers who direct market more than 50% of their product to the consumer at the farm or at a retail location off the farm such as a farm stand or farmer’s market need not register with FDA. This clarification is especially important for off-farm retail locations such as farmers markets.

(2) Provides a size appropriate and less costly alternative to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Plans (HACCP) for farmers who:Direct market more than 50% of their products directly to consumers, stores or restaurants, and  Have gross sales (direct and non-direct combined) of less than $500,000, and Sell to consumers, stores, or restaurants that are in-state or within 400 miles.

Farmers who qualify must provide documentation that the farm is in compliance with state regulations. Documentation may include licenses, inspection reports, or other evidence that the farm is in compliance with State, local, county, or other applicable non-Federal food safety law. The farm must also prominently and conspicuously display the name and address of farm/facility on its label. For foods without a label then by poster, sign, or placard, at the point of purchase or, in the case of Internet sales, in an electronic notice, or in the case of sales to stores and restaurants, on the invoice.

If there are no state regulations or if the farmer prefers a different option, the farmer must provide FDA with documentation that potential hazards have been identified and that preventive controls have been implemented and are being monitored for effectiveness.

(3) Provides alternatives to the produce standards for farms that: Direct market more than 50% of their products directly to consumers, stores or restaurants, and Have gross sales (direct and non-direct combined) of less than $500,000, and Sell to consumers, stores, or restaurants that are in-state or within 400 miles.

The farm must prominently and conspicuously display the name and address of farm/facility on its label. For foods without a label then by poster, sign, or placard, at the point of purchase or, in the case of Internet sales, in an electronic notice, or in the case of sales to stores and restaurants, on the invoice.

What’s in the Manager’s Amendment?
The Manager’s Amendment incorporates a wide variety of changes to the bill that have been added since the measure was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee late last year. All of these changes have been approved by both the Democratic and Republican sponsors of the bill. Among the changes are a number of very important items for farmers, including:

(1) An amendment sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to provide for a USDA-delivered competitive grants program for food safety training for farmers, small processors and wholesalers. The training projects will prioritize small and mid-scale farms, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, and small food processors and wholesalers. The grant program will be administered by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

(2) An amendment sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) to reduce unnecessary paperwork and excess regulation required under the preventative control plan and the produce standards sections of the bill. FDA is instructed to provide flexibility for small processors including on-farm processing, to minimize the burden of compliance with regulations, and to minimize the number of different standards that apply to separate foods. FDA will also be prohibited from requiring farms and other food facilities to hire consultants to write food safety plans. The Bennet amendment applies to all small farms and processors, not just those who direct market within 400 miles of their farms.

(3) An amendment sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for farms that engage in value-added processing or that co-mingle product from several farms gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to either exempt farms engaged in low or no risk processing or co-mingling activities from new regulatory requirements or to modify particular regulatory requirements for such farming operations.

(4) An amendment championed by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to strip the bill of wildlife-threatening enforcement against « animal encroachment » of farms is also in the manager’s package. It will require FDA to apply sound science to any requirements that might impact wildlife and wildlife habitat on farms.

(5) An amendment proposed by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will not require small farmers to meet extensive traceability and record-keeping if they sell food directly to consumers or to grocery stores and allows labeling that preserves the identity of the farm to satisfy traceability requirements. The amendment also prevents FDA from requiring any farm from needing to keep records beyond the first point of sale when the product leaves the farm, except in the case of farms that co-mingle product from multiple farms, in which case they must also keep records one step back as well as one step forward.

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) is a member organization of the National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition (NSAC), and FOG has been working on food safety policy in the NSAC Food Safety Task Force and with other farm, environmental, science and consumer organizations. FOG’s role in this task force is to protect the livelihoods of family-scale farms and vitality of local and regional food systems. FOG strongly believes that support of the Manager’s Amendment and the Tester-Hagan amendment to the Senate Bill S.510 is the best course of action to protect smaller scale, direct sales farms and food systems.

Big Food’s ‘Smart Choices’ label raises eyebrows at the FDA

You don’t need to be a nutritionist with an advanced degree to know that Froot Loops only qualifies as a “Smart Choice” on Planet Kellogg’s. But as the NYT told us over the weekend, if you are a nutritionist at a prestigious university’s nutrition school, you just might think it does. I give you Eileen Kennedy, President of Tufts University’s (up to this point) well-regarded School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and also board president of Big Food’s “Smart Choices” food label inititative.

Saving Bees: What We Know Now

The first alarms about the sudden widespread disappearance of honeybees came in late 2006, and the phenomenon soon had a name: colony collapse disorder. In the two years that followed, about one-third of bee colonies vanished, while researcherstoiled to figure out what was causing the collapse. A study published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences surmises that there may not be a single pathogen involved but a collection of culprits. What have entomologists and beekeepers learned in the last few years of dealing with the crisis? We asked May R. Berenbaum, an author of the study, and other experts for an update

Farm to Hub to Table

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Dick Proutt is a small farmer. A very small one. At Down Branch Farm, he raises chickens and quails and grows lettuce, squash, melons and tomatoes on about an acre. In high summer, his weekly haul might include just five dozen quail eggs, 40 pounds of tomatoes and 20 pounds of squash.
The Jefferson Area Board of Aging wants exactly that kind of food for the more than 3,000 meals it serves each week. But it needs 100 pounds of tomatoes. And that’s for one day’s worth of salads at its 11 area senior citizen centers. Until now, JABA had only two options: Cobble together an order by making weekly pickups at several local farms, or call a one-stop national distributor.

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He’s fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer.

When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he’ll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That’s the state of your bacon — circa 2009.

Horror stories about the food industry have long been with us — ever since 1906, when Upton Sinclair’s landmark novel The Jungle told some ugly truths about how America produces its meat. In the century that followed, things got much better, and in some ways much worse. The U.S. agricultural industry can now produce unlimited quantities of meat and grains at remarkably cheap prices. But it does so at a high cost to the environment, animals and humans. Those hidden prices are the creeping erosion of our fertile farmland, cages for egg-laying chickens so packed that the birds can’t even raise their wings and the scary rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among farm animals. Add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming — our energy-intensive food system uses 19% of U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector of the economy.

And perhaps worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous. A series of recalls involving contaminated foods this year — including an outbreak of salmonella from tainted peanuts that killed at least eight people and sickened 600 — has consumers rightly worried about the safety of their meals. A food system — from seed to 7‑Eleven — that generates cheap, filling food at the literal expense of healthier produce is also a principal cause of America’s obesity epidemic. At a time when the nation is close to a civil war over health-care reform, obesity adds $147 billion a year to our doctor bills. « The way we farm now is destructive of the soil, the environment and us, » says Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Some Americans are heeding such warnings and working to transform the way the country eats — ranchers and farmers who are raising sustainable food in ways that don’t bankrupt the earth. Documentaries like the scathing Food Inc. and the work of investigative journalists like Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan are reprising Sinclair’s work, awakening a sleeping public to the uncomfortable realities of how we eat. Change is also coming from the very top. First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden has so far yielded more than 225 lb. of organic produce — and tons of powerful symbolism. But hers is still a losing battle. Despite increasing public awareness, sustainable agriculture, while the fastest-growing sector of the food industry, remains a tiny enterprise: according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), less than 1% of American cropland is farmed organically. Sustainable food is also pricier than conventional food and harder to find. And while large companies like General Mills have opened organic divisions, purists worry that the very definition of sustainability will be co-opted as a result.

But we don’t have the luxury of philosophizing about food. With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy — demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 — but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs — and bland taste. Sustainable food has an élitist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants — and as every farmer knows, if you don’t take care of your land, it can’t take care of you.

Fruits & Vegetables

    • January:
    • Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Papayas, Parsley, Pineapple, Prickly Pear Cactus, Spinach, Sweet Limes, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tomatoes, and Turnip Greens.


    • February:
    • Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, English Peas, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Pineapple, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Turnips and Turnip Greens.


    • March:
    • Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, English Peas, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Pineapple, Radishes, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Spinach, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnips and Turnip Greens.


    • April:
    • Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, English Peas, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Radishes, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, and Turnips.


    • May:
    • Blackberries, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions (bulb), Oranges, Pole Beans, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabagas, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Southern Peas, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.


    • June:
    • Blackberries, Beets, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Limes, Okra, Onions (bulb), Peaches, Pole Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rutabagas, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Southern Peas, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.


    • July:
    • Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Limes, Okra, Onions (bulb), Peaches, Peanuts, Pineappel, Pole Beans,Potatoes, Pumpkins, Southern Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.


    • August:
    • Eggplant, Grapes, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Okra, Peanuts, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pumpkins, Southern Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Watermelon.


    • September:
    • Bananas, Cantaloupe, Chestnuts, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Limes, Okra, Papaya, Peanuts, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pumpkins, Radishes, Southern Peas, Sugar Cane, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Watermelon and Zucchini.


    • October:
    • Bananas, Cantaloupe, Chestnuts, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Okra, Papaya, Pecans, Persimmons, Pineapple, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pumpkins, Radishes, Satsumas, Southern Peas, Sugar Cane, Sweet Limes, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Watermelon, and Zucchini.


    • November:
    • Bananas, Beets, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Endive, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Papayas, Pecans, Pineapple, Pommelo, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pumpkin, Radishes, Satsumas, Spinach, Sweet Limes, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Winter Squash, Yacon, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.


  • December:
  • Bananas, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, Grapefruit, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Papayas, Pecans, Pineapple, Pommelo, Prickly Pear Cactus, Rutabagas, Satsumas, Spinach, Sweet Limes, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Winter Squash, and Yacon.

 

The Local Food Roadshow rolls on…

May is coming up on Saturday. I always consider it the best
month of the year and this year is no different. It is time
once again, for another stop on the Local Food Roadshow, the 2010 Eat Local Challenge. This year, we have a treat,
as it is going to kick off at Swallowtail Farm with a May Day Cook Off and Music Celebration!

Each May, Stefanie Hamblen of Hogtown Homegrown sponsors the Eat Local Challenge, a challenge to eat locally produced food at home or in a restaurant at least once a day for the entire month of May!

This year the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners will declare May 2010 as Eat Local Month in Alachua County. Please visit Hogtown Homegrown and read all the details as well as sign up for this year’s challenge!

Noah Shitama of Swallowtail Farm CSA will be hosting a May Day Celebration to kick off Eat Local Month. This will be a great opportunity to come out and see how your food is grown and meet and talk with many of your local farmers and learn more about the different organizations in our food community.

Enjoy a local food Cook – Off in the afternoon, with prizes, and then enjoy your evening with music and fun! Visit the Swallowtail Farm website for more details.

I’ll look forward to seeing many of you there!

City urged to lift St. Francis meal limit

Gainesville planning board cites number of hungry residents in advising commissioners

It is time for Gainesville to eliminate the restrictions on how many meals a day the St. Francis House homeless shelter and soup kitchen may serve, a city advisory board says.

Monday night, the Gainesville Planning Board decided that, given the number of homeless and needy people in the community, the application before them to waive the 130-meal limit on three holidays each year did not go far enough.

Toward the end of a marathon meeting, their recommendation was to expand on that and do away with the meal limit on all 11 national holidays.

While there currently is no active application to do so, the Planning Board then went further and recommended that the City Commission consider the total elimination of any meal limit for the St. Francis House, which is south of downtown on Main Street.

Planning Board member Adrian Taylor, the pastor of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, recommended the repeal of the meal limit, while acknowledging the debate over the shelter is a « polarizing and difficult issue » for the city’s elected officials.

The meal limit at the St. Francis House has pitted some downtown merchants and homeless advocates against each other for more than a decade. Planning Board Chairman Bob Cohen noted the conflict could stretch another 10 years if a balance between the two sides is not struck.

Give a GIFT of Food

Often during the holidays, many spend time trying to figure out the gift to get someone that seems to have everything. This year you may want to consider giving a gift to those that may have little. Florida Organic Growers has a program to help you do just that … Gainesville Initiative for Tasty Gardens (GIFT Gardens). Visit their website and see how they are making a difference in helping people learn to produce some of their own food and how you can be part of the giving!

Local Food Survey

The following surveys are being distributed for the Alachua County Kitchen Incubator, in cooperation with Sustainable Alachua County and the Alachua County Commission.

Please help us get a better picture of the demand for local food and local food processing facilities by taking the Local Food Survey. If you are a producer, farmer, or grower of local food, please fill out the Producer Survey as well.
Your answers will be a valuable input for the kitchen feasibility study and funding of future local food projects.

A Thanksgiving Harvest

Fall is here…at least the calendar indicates that but the weather, though now quite pleasant, has been above normal and we experienced a very hot October with temperatures in the low 90’s! This created several problems for our local farmers, ready to start planting those fall crops that thrive on cooler temperatures. « One of the most challenging times in Florida, is the transition between warm weather crops to cool weather crops » states one of our local growers in Micanopy, « You are just never sure what the weather is going to do ». Typically in our growing region, which covers portions of north central, northeast and central Florida, the fall growing season is usually late August through February, depending on the crop. ( see a list of vegetable production guides from IFAS ). With temperatures peaking above normal for this time of year, adjustments had to be made.

I recently asked growers if the weather has had an influence on their fall planting schedule and also asked what crops consumers can expect to see in the markets over the coming weeks. A number of growers responded with similar stories. Many start seedlings in late August and early September, either in flats or directly in the ground, looking for a harvest target from late October through February, depending on the crop. Several growers had to re-sow many varieties of lettuces, cilantro and dill that germinated well and then failed when nighttime temperatures remained warm. Most farms now are in full swing with their production and fall crops are now showing up in our farmer’s markets across the area.

Mustard greens, radishes, lettuces and some turnips usually take around 25 – 40 days to mature, depending on variety and I am seeing these in markets. Cassels Family Organics had beautiful mustard greens for sale at the Melrose Community Market on Friday. Bette Levin, a grower in Melrose, is looking forward to mid-November when her crop will soon be ready for harvest, « My heirloom lettuce varieties and chards should be best sellers due to the unusual nature of heirlooms in a salad mix , and the basic brilliant, nutritious nature of veggies grown using the biodynamic method. » As the weeks progress we can all look forward to a wide variety of popular greens, winter squashes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage and onions.

Thanksgiving is next week and these locally grown vegetables will be enjoyed by many of us, whether we are eating at home or perhaps dining out. For those who are eating in, it may be time to take advantage of our locally grown pumpkins and try some new recipes. Stefanie Hamblen, well know in Gainesville for her website Hogtown Homegrown, which features local and seasonal recipes, states « When fall comes and the days get cooler, I love to slow roast veggies in the oven. Large hard winter squash, especially indigenous calabasas and Seminole pumpkins, yield many cupfuls of usable flesh, filled with vitamins and other nutrients. The roasted pumpkin can be eaten as is, with toppings, baked into pies and custards or cooked into delicious soups. » Stefanie kindly offered these recipes:

If you happen to be eating out over the holidays, you will definitely want to stop in at Mildred’s Big City FoodChef Bert Gillhas long been an advocate and supporterbertGill of buying fresh, locally grown produce. Gill has established relationships with local growers and producers, from which he purchases about 70% of his produce, meat and seafood. With fall crops coming in, Chef Gill looks forward to the leafy greens, now in season such as kale, mustard greens, salad lettuces and radishes. Visit Mildred’s Big City Food’s website and try one of the many seasonal recipes that Chef Gill includes in his online cookbook and watch his instructional videos on food preparation!

We have a strong local food community in the Gainesville area, from growers, producers, markets, restaurants and numerous organizations whose goal is to promote and support fresh, locally grown produce. Offer your support to organizations that are playing a big role in helping those without this Thanksgiving like Trinity United Methodist Church, sponsoring their Annual Thanksgiving Basket Food DriveThe Bread of the Mighty, and Gainesville Harvest. In this season of thanksgiving, please take the time to appreciate and thank those who continually work toward developing a secure, sustainable food economy for the greater Gainesville area. Happy Thanksgiving!

Farm Fresh & Local

cJust what is ‘local’ food? Depending on who you talk to it could mean anything from within the boundaries of your town or community to within the boundaries of your state and further. There are those that promote local as being within a 100 mile radius, as in the 100 Mile Diet.

Local, however, to keep things simple, means as close to home as possible.  It starts in your own backyard and works it’s way outward.  If you can’t find what you want close by you simply have to go further to find it.  Our diets have become accustomed to a wide variety of products, some that may not even grow in our region.  It takes determination to change old habits and eat only locally grown products, but we can use common sense and buy those items that are grown locally and support our farmers and community.  We then just extend this further to make sure we buy products produced in our state over other states, as in Florida citrus over California citrus, and extending this further to include products produced in the USA rather than purchasing the same product produced in another country.

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to produce food indefinitely, respecting the health of the natural ecosystem and resources, supporting the rural community and offering respect and fair treatment to all involved, from farm workers to consumers to the animals raised for food.

Two key issues are biophysical (the long-term effects of various practices on soil properties and processes essential for crop productivity) and socio-economic (the long-term ability of farmers to obtain inputs and manage resources such as labor).

Slow Food

Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy to combat fast food. It claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an ecoregion. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement. The movement has since expanded globally to over 83,000 members in 122 countries.

Permaculture

A contraction of « permanent agriculture, » the word « permaculture » was coined by Australian Bill Mollison in the late 1970s. One of the many alternative agriculture systems described as sustainable, permaculture is « unique in its emphasis on design; that is, the location of each element in a landscape, and the evolution of landscape over time. The goal of permaculture is to produce an efficient, low-maintenance integration of plants, animals, people and structure… applied at the scale of a home garden, all the way through to a large farm. » [John Quinney, « Permaculture in the United States, » The New Alchemy Quarterly (Spring 1986) 23: p. 3. NAL Call # S589.7 N48] [See also, Andrew Jeeves, Introduction to Permaculture and Bill Mollison, The Terrible Time of Day (Pamphlet I in the Permaculture Design Course Series, published by Yankee Permaculture). Available at Barking Frogs

Organic Farming

The term ‘organic farming’ was first used by Lord Northbourne in the book, Look to the Land (London: Dent, 1940. NAL Call # 30 N81). Lord Northbourne, who embraced the teachings of Rudolph Steiner and biodynamic farming, had a « vision of the farm as a sustainable, ecologically stable, self-contained unit, biologically complete and balanced–a dynamic living organic whole…The term thus did not refer solely to the use of living materials (organic manures, etc) in agriculture although obviously it included them, but with its emphasis on ‘wholeness’ is encompassed best by the definition ‘of, pertaining to, or characterized by systematic connexion or coordination of parts of the one whole.’ (Oxford English Dictionary, 1971.) » [AM Scofield, « Editorial: Organic Farming–The Origin of the Name, » Biological Agriculture and Horticulture (1986)

Organic farming was championed in the United States by J.I. Rodale, beginning in the mid-1940s. « The organic farmer and gardener must realize that fertilization is not the only measure for success. He must treat the soil as a living, breathing entity. He must rotate crops. He must fallow the land at regulated intervals. The organiculturist must not practice one-crop monoculture but must engage in a balanced agriculture with cattle as part of the general program. He must be smart in the ways of soil and crops, observing the reaction of the land to the actions of man. For instance, he must know when to plant, when to harvest, and what varieties of seed to use. Compost alone does not make a successful gardener any more than does gardening without compost. » [« The Organiculturist’s Creed, » in The Organic Front, Chapter 8 (Emmaus PA: Rodale Press, 1948).

As defined by a USDA Study Team on Organic Farming, « Organic farming is a production system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming systems rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, mineral-bearing rocks, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients, and to control insects, weeds and other pests. » [Report and Recommendations on Organic Farming (Washington DC: USDA, 1980), p. xii. NAL Call # aS605.5 U52. Available at AFSIC

The following definition was drafted and passed by the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in April 1995. It was developed by a joint NOSB/National Organic Program task force, and incorporated language from the Codex Draft Guidelines for organically produced foods: « Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. ‘Organic’ is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. The principal guidelines for organic production are to use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole. Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water. Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people. » [Final Minutes of the National Organic Standards Board, Orlando, Florida, April 24-28, 1995 (NOSB, 1994), p. 50. Available at NOSB

« Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled « organic, » a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too. » [What is organic food? (USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service, National Organic Program (NOP)).]

Natural Farming

Natural Farming reflects the experiences and philosophy of Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka. His books The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming (Emmaus: Rodale Press, 1978. NAL Call # S604 F72) and The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy (Tokyo; New York: Japan Publications, 1985. NAL Call # S605.5 F72 1987) describe what he calls « do-nothing farming » and a lifetime of nature study. « His farming method involves no tillage, no fertilizer, no pesticides, no weeding, no pruning, and remarkably little labor! He accomplishes all this (and high yields) by careful timing of his seeding and careful combinations of plants (polyculture). In short, he has brought the practical art of working with nature to a high level of refinement. » [Robert and Diane Gilman, « Greening the Desert: An Interview with Masanobu Fukuoka, » In Context (Autumn 1986) 14: p. 37. Available at In Context Website (8/23/07):

Local/Community Food System

A community food system, also known as a local food system, « is a collaborative effort to integrate agricultural production with food distribution to enhance the economic, environmental, and social well-being of a particular place (i.e. a neighborhood, city, county or region). » [Gail Feenstra and Dave Campbell, « Steps for Developing a Sustainable Community Food System, » Pacific Northwest Sustainable Agriculture: Farming for Profit & Stewardship (Winter 1996-97) 8(4): pp. 1,6]

« One of the primary assumptions underlying the sustainable diet concept is that foods are produced, processed, and distributed as locally as possible. This approach supports a food system that preserves local farmland and fosters community economic viability, requires less energy for transportation, and offers consumers the freshest foods. » [Jeanne Peters, « Community Food Systems: Working Toward a Sustainable Future, » Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Sept. 1997) 97(9): pp. 955-956. NAL Call # 389.8 Am34]. See also: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in this listing.

Locavore

locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles (240 km). The localvore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, since supermarkets that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.

Heirloom

Heirloom crop varieties, also called farmers’ varieties or traditional varieties, have been developed by farmers through years of cultivation, selection, and seed saving, and passed down through generations.

Grass-fed

The diet of grass-fed animals consists of freshly grazed pasture during the growing season and stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during the winter months or drought conditions. Grass feeding is used with cattle, sheep, goats, and bison. (Other terms for “grass-fed » products include « pasture-raised, » « pasture-finished, » and « grass-finished. »)

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

GMOs are plants and animals that have had their genetic make up altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism. Genetic modification is currently allowed in conventional farming.

Free range

Free range (or free roaming) implies that a meat or poultry product comes from an animal that was raised out of confinement or was free to roam. Its use on beef is unregulated and there is no standard definition of this term. USDA requires that poultry have access to the outdoors but for an undetermined period each day. « Free range » claims on eggs are not regulated.

Food Miles

The distance food travels from where it is grown or raised to where it is ultimately purchased by the consumer or end-user. « Local food systems can reduce ‘food miles’ and transportation costs, offering significant energy savings. Consumers also benefit from fresher, better-tasting, and more nutritious food, while more food dollars stay within rural communities. » [Reducing Food Miles, ATTRA – National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service. Available at ATTRA Website

Biointensive Gardening/Mini-farming

John Jeavons and Ecology Action have refined a production system that makes it possible for one person to grow all of his or her family’s food using truly sustainable methods that maintain the fertility of the soil without relying on nonrenewable resources like petrochemicals or imported organic matter. [From: John Jeavons, How To Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, And Other Crops On Less Land Than You Can Imagine (Berkeley CA: Ten Speed Press, 1995). NAL Call # SB324.5 J43 1995] The concepts and practices of biointensive gardening were synthesized and introduced to the U.S. by the English master horticulturalist, Alan Chadwick. Important components include double-dug, raised beds; intensive planting; composting; companion planting; and whole system synergy.

Biodynamic Agriculture/Biodynamic Farming

Both a concept and a practice, biodynamics « owes its origin to the spiritual insights and perceptions of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and scientist who lived at the turn of the century. » Dr. Steiner emphasized many of the forces within living nature, identifying many of these factors and describing specific practices and preparations that enable the farmer or gardener to work in concert with these parameters. « Central to the biodynamic method… are certain herbal preparations that guide the decomposition processes in manures and compost. » [1985-1986 Year End Report (Kimberton PA: Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc., 1986), p. 3. AFSIC collection] See also: « What is Biodynamics? » Available at Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association On-line Website:http://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html (8/23/07).

Foods produced through biodynamic methods are certified for consumer markets by the Demeter Association. [For information: Demeter Association,

Support Local Food

There are many ways you can begin supporting your local food economy. We have many fine farmers, farmer’s markets, food stores and restaurants, as well as organizations dedicated to bringing you fresh local products.

Here are a few tips to lead you toward supporting our local, sustainable food economy.

    • Visit Farmer’s Markets throughout the year and become familiar with what grows in our area. Use resources like Gainesville Farm Fresh to look up what is in season at any given time of year. You can meet your farmer in person and ask questions about how the food or product was raised and grown. In our area alone, you will be able to find, fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, beef, pork, poultry and more. Visit the Locator Maps for locations of farms and markets in your area.

 

    • Subscribe to a local CSA ( Community Supported Agriculture ). Your participation helps farmers with expenses and labor in exchange for the rewards of the harvest. Joining a CSA also gives you a closer link to the land and food production. Locate a CSA in our area.

 

    • Take part in locally sponsored and nationally sponsored food initiatives:
        • Hogtown Homegrown’s ‘Eat Local Challenge’, a challenge to eat locally, whether at home or at a restaurant for the entire month of May. Check it out!
        • Slow Food of Gainesville sponsors monthly dinner’s and pot lucks based on local food, as well as a new intiative « Time for Lunch », aimed at bringing healthy food back to our school cafeterias.
      • Meatless Mondays: Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.
    • Support the food markets and restaurants that support our local farmers.

 

  • Support organizations involved in our local food economy
    • Florida Organic Growers,
    • Slow Food Gainesville
    • Hogtown Homegrown
    • Sustainable Alachua County, FWG
    • Gainesville Farm Fresh
  • Support your community food co-ops
    • 4 Counties Co-op
    • Citizens Co-op

Remember to spread the word! Pass on your support and enthusiam, get involved, partake in forums and share your concerns, your successes, your knowledge and more.

U.S. schools add fresh food without busting budgets

(Reuters) – Thousands of U.S. public school districts are teaming up with local farmers to put more fresh fruits and vegetables on lunchroom menus, without breaking budgets or getting any help from celebrity chefs.

The schools are taking early steps toward adding more fresh and homemade foods as advocated by British chef Jamie Oliver, who led a campaign to improve school lunch in his country. But inexpensive, processed foods still dominate U.S. school menus.

Proponents including U.S. President Barack Obama are pushing for a bigger investment in school meals that feed some of the country’s neediest children. The aim is to establish healthier eating habits and curb obesity rates that are driving nearly $150 billion in medical costs each year.

Nearly a third of U.S. children are obese or overweight and public health experts are warning that this generation of youth may be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.

Walmart turns over a new leaf as it embraces local produce

MANCHESTER — Inside the cavernous new Walmart on Highlands Boulevard Drive, grocery manager Russell Davis stands with a gleaming bounty behind him. Lettuce from California, blueberries from Michigan and grapes from South America.

Then there’s the store’s hottest grocery commodity these days — pumpkins and corn grown in Brunswick, just a couple of hundred miles away.

« Our customers want locally grown products, » Davis says. « They all ask for it. They all want to know: Is this from Missouri? »

In the last several years, locally grown food has become the « it » consumable as more shoppers, concerned about the environmental impact or the safety of their food, seek out products from closer to home. And retailers, from Whole Foods to Safeway, have obliged.

 Even Walmart, now the nation’s largest supermarket chain as well as retailer, has gotten into the local scene, embarking on an effort to procure more of its produce from local growers.

« If you can get local food in there, you’ve really arrived, » said Mary Hendrickson, a professor of rural sociology at the University of Missouri Extension and advocate for regional food systems. « It’s not just a fad. It’s something that everyone’s taking seriously. »

The Food System and Public Policy

Note: This post is based on a portion of my presentations at the recent Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Denver. Go to the ASPO web site for the complete slide deck. And thanks to Debbie Cook for inviting me to be on her panel. As reported by the Des Moines Register, Colombia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs had some strong words for the food industry at the 2009 Borlaug Dialogue: Sachs said agriculture is the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, and he also linked the industry to depletion of water supplies and fisheries and poor dietary habits. What I’d like to do for this post is ask if government policies contribute to the troubles in the food system. I see ways in which we are we working against our own interests, akin to a giant tug of war game, where the work of one only serves to counter the work of another. Once we identify the policies that support current conditions, we can readily suggest adjustments that will align with broad measures of well being. I also want to acknowledge that part of the reason we produce food the way we do is because it has been incredibly successful at yielding abundantly and at low initial costs. What is more troubling are the unintended consequences that Prof. Sachs identified and that I will discuss further. These are the long-term costs, or externalities, that need to be factored into the transition towards sustainability in food production. Broad Social Goals I am first going to identify some broad social goals that I believe are non-partisan. If you look at these and study the effects of the current food system it is clear that the way we are feeding ourselves is diametrically opposed to general notions of « public good. » I identify four social goals that most everybody can agree on: Environmental Protection, Healthy and Safe Food, Economic Vitality, and Peace and Security.

Getting Ready for Earth Day: Eat Local Food

When it comes to learning more & doing more to make your life greener and getting ready for Earth Day, the choices you make in the food you eat every day can make a tremendous impact. There are lots of food choices that you can make that are better than pesticide-laden conventional, hormone-injected factory-farmed food; today we’ll concentrate on a few of the benefits and strategies for eating local.

1) Why eat local? We partnered up with EarthTalk to explain the ins and outs of the environmental benefits of eating local.
2) Here are 10 more reasons to eat local along with a handy PDF for easy printing and distribution.
3) Local Harvest is one of the most comprehensive, complete resources for find local food near you.
4) One of the difficulties of eating local is dealing with the changing seasons (and generally smaller harvests in winter) but it’s possible to eat local all year ’round.
5) Among its many benefits, local food is more nutritious, even in the winter.
6) Local food is becoming big enough that it was even featured on the cover of Time magazine.
7) If finding time to get to the farmer’s market each week proves difficult, joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) co-op like this one is a good alternative.
8) Eating local food can seem restrictive in terms of ingredients, but there are good examples of local food menusthat can make a seemingly small amount of choices go further.

To learn more about making Earth Day-friendly food choices, check out our How to Green Your Meals guide and stay tuned for more tips as the big day approaches.

1st Annual Garden Bike Tour

Come join Citizens Co-op for a garden bike tour of Gainesville! The tour starts at Bo Diddley Community Plaza and ends at our new location at 435 S. Main St. It will be 14 miles with stops for refreshments at various local gardens and Gainesville businesses. Bring a water bottle to fill up along the way! Registration: Bo Diddley Plaza from 10am-12pm. Bike tour: 12pm to 5pm. Music Festival: 5-11pm with live music, beer, and local food.

Mother’s Day Herb Festival at Maggie’s Herbs

Each year, on the day before Mother’s Day, Maggie’s Herbs, outside of St. Augustine, hosts a Farm festival and open house with many vendors offering herbs, butterfly plants,homemade herb foods and jams, antique roses , handmade soaps, dried spices and more. Find many varieties of basils, mints, lavenders,rosemary, thymes, sages, oreganos , medicinal plants and other hummingbird and butterfly herbs and plants.

This is a great little festival and an opportunity to meet many different herb enthusiasts from around the area and find a wide variety of herbs. An herbal lunch is available with live music and refreshments. It’s a great place to find herbs and nice last minute gifts for Mom on Mother’s Day. I’ll see many of you there, as I do each year with herbs from The Herb Garden.

New farmers markets keep cropping up in the area

The newest addition to the Gainesville area’s growing family of farmers markets, The Melrose Community Farmers Market, opened this month with a simple message: The demand for locally grown, locally sold, environmentally safe foods is a top priority in North Central Florida.

The market, which runs every Friday at the Melrose Heritage Park, features more than 30 vendors coming from within a 10-mile radius selling everything from vegetables, fruits, herbs, eggs and organic meats to wood, metal crafts and handmade jewelry. With so many other markets in the Gainesville area — including the Hawthorne, Haile, downtown Gainesville, Micanopy and Town of Tioga markets — Ed Sherwood, director of the Melrose Market, wanted to carve out a spot for his agricultural community.

« There’s a hunger for community in modern-day America, » Sherwood said. « I am just giving people a chance to come out and celebrate their community and help their neighbors build a local economy.

Food expo, film show benefits home-grown products

You don’t have to dig deep to see that Gainesville’s soil is ripe with growth.

On Sunday, the Citizens Co-op sponsored two sold-out showings of Robert Kenner’s « Food, Inc. »

The show attracted more than 200 people and raised $1,060 to go toward opening a community-owned grocery store in Gainesville, said Robert Matrone, cinema manager at the Hippodrome State Theatre.

« Food, Inc. » is a 30-minute documentary that details the negative health effects of hormone-injected meats, pesticide-sprayed fruits and vegetables, the increasing number of food-related E.Coli and obesity cases and the detrimental effect that our industrial food market has on smaller farms and communities.

« The movie can leave you feeling hopeless and depressed, but the Co-op wanted to offer people the information but also show the thriving community that Gainesville already has established around food, » said Liz Nesbit, a co-founder of the Co-op. « We want people to come out of the film and not feel like, ‘What can I do?’ but, ‘How can I become a part of the solution?' »

The Co-op also held a food expo in connection with « Food, Inc. » More than 10 vendors sold their home-grown products from Gainesville, Micanopy, Melrose, Ocala and other surrounding areas. There was a showcase of plants and herbs, including included shiitake mushrooms, ginger roots, peppermint, unpasteurized milk, sweet habanero peppers, rosemary and soap made from goat milk.

James Steele, owner of The Herb Garden Nursery in Melrose, has been growing fruits and herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes for more than 40 years. He used his knowledge and resources to create www.gainesvillefarmfresh.com, a networking site for those interested in growing, producing or purchasing locally home-grown products.

« I love interacting with my food, growing what I’m eating and helping customers with the herbs that they’re growing, » Steele said, as he jumped at the opportunity to give a passer-by advice on how to tend to her aloe roots. « I’m also seeing that people appreciate the growth process and like knowing where their food comes from. »

Five members are needed to commit to a location and building for the community grocery market, which would distribute fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, meat, seafood and herbs on a weekly basis. There were more than 400 members at the event.

« I’m really pleased with the turnout. It’s satisfying to see how easy it’s been to pull something like this off, » Nesbit said. « We have lots of support and a lot of people want to see something like this put into fruition. »

Membership is $100 and gives partial ownership to the store, meaning that you get a say with the board of directors, what items are to be placed on shelves, and at the end of the year, all the profits get redistributed back to the owners. If 500 members join, the Co-op will open the community-owned grocery store in the fall of 2010.

A Local Food Solution

Family farmers and local business owners gathered Sunday evening in the hopes of finding a place in Gainesville to sell their products, which include a cold-hardy avocado that produces fruit in Gainesville’s coldest winter, biodynamically grown produce and unpasteurized goat’s milk and cheese.

About a dozen vendors gathered at the Citizen’s Food Expo to inform a large crowd interested in learning how to eat locally and gain support for the Citizen’s Co-op of Gainesville.

Photo by Katie Tschopp: Michael Espinosa grills tempeh and fresh vegetables at the Citizens Food Expo on Sunday afternoon in the Sun Center Plaza.

The event was coincided with the movie « Food, Inc. » – a cinematic depiction of massive food corporations – which is playing this week at the Hippodrome Cinema.

« What you see, the things that they put into the food we eat everyday, is really eye-opening, » said Liz Nesbit, co-founder of the Citizen’s Co-op, an organization working to create a permanent grocery store for locally grown organic food.

She hopes to have the co-op store open by the fall of 2010 if they can reach the 500-member mark. The group reached 400 members on Sunday.

Ryan Brouillard, co-owner of Abundant Edible Landscapes, said he fully supports the efforts to re-establish a co-op in Gainesville, adding that there was one in the early ’90s that closed.

His company used the expo on Sunday to highlight its services as licensed landscapers who focus on planting food-producing plants.

Brouillard said the company’s best seller is the cold-hardy avocado, which produces fruit slightly larger and oilier than the Haas avocado.

Patrick Ross of Sandhill Farm near Micanopy said his family farm feeds 35 families. He emphasized that the 30-acre farm doesn’t use pesticides, but it rather focuses on biodynamic agriculture – a practice of using natural pest deterrents and compost as a fertilizer.

« We’re being hampered by some things going on at the farmer’s markets, with people buying whole sale produce and selling it, » Ross said.

Ross said his farm now donates excess production to charities but could use a place like the co-op.

And Joe Pietrangelo, owner of Glades Ridge Dairy in Lake Butler, said his dairy needs a place like the co-op now that it was suspended from the farmer’s market on U.S. 441.

Pietrangelo sells unpasteurized milk products, which is technically against Florida law, however he labels both his milk and his cheeses as « for animal use only. »

Pietrangelo said that for most of his customers, they understand the health risk of unpasteurized milk but also know that it has more natural enzymes than regular milk.

Supreme Court to Hear First Genetically Engineered Crop Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear a first-time case about the risks of genetically engineered crops. Named Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the case before the high court will be yet another step in an ongoing battle waged by the Center for Food Safety to protect consumers and the environment from potentially harmful effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

The modified alfalfa seed at the heart of the dispute has been engineered to be immune to Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup. Monsanto intervened in a 2007 federal district court ruling that the Department of Agriculture’s approval of GE alfalfa was illegal. The Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a 2006 lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of non-profits and farmers who wished to retain the choice to plant non-GE alfalfa. CFS was victorious in this case – in addition CFS has won two appeals by Monsanto in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit: in 2008 and again in 2009. Now, upon Monsanto’s insistence, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR FLORIDA’S FAMILY FARMS

Florida’s family farmers and Floridians who want to eat locally-grown food need your help to free Florida’s food and family farmers from burdensome regulation and fees. Attached are all the tools you need to lend your voice in support of Florida family farmers, as well as a quick tutorial on the proposed legislation. Passage of the Florida Food Freedom Act promises to bring Floridian’s a wider variety of healthy, locally-grown foods direct from the Florida farmer. But we need your help.

Food safety bill defeated in House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House defeated a far-reaching food safety bill Wednesday after farm-state lawmakers complained it would be too invasive and others said it was pushed to the floor too quickly.

The legislation, which would require more government inspections and oversight of food manufacturers in the wake of a massive salmonella outbreak in peanuts, was considered under a suspension of House rules and needed a two-thirds vote for passage. The 280-150 vote was just a few shy of that threshold.

The Dark Side of Nitrogen

While many of us know the importance of eating healthy food and are quite aware of our carbon ‘foodprint’, we may not understand the basics of soil chemistry, fertilizers and what is involved in growing the food we eat. As a grower for 40 years now, the interaction between soil, fertilizer and water has always held my interest and I often spend extra time in my class on Growing Herbs in Florida, going over this relationship.

Nitrogen, one of the ‘big 3’ in fertilzers, as in 10-10-10 ( N-P-K ), is a key element in the growth of our food crops, however, as agriculture has changed since WW II, natural forms of nitrogen have been replaced with synthetic nitrogen. This doesn’t come without a price.

This series on nitrogen will open up the secrets of what is behind the use of synthetic nitrogen and the true price we pay for that use. A link to these articles will remain in the right sidebar under ‘Fertile Ground’ until the series finishes. Thanks to Ed Brown, a GFF contributor for sending this article my way.

Michelle Obama and Child Obesity

Her daughters were 6 and 9, and Michelle Obama was like any other working mom — struggling to juggle office hours, school pick-ups and mealtimes. By the end of the day, she was often too tired to make dinner, so she did what was easy: She ordered takeout or went to the drive-through.

She thought the girls were eating reasonably well — until her pediatrician in Chicago told her he didn’t like the weight fluctuations he was seeing.

« I was shocked because my kids looked perfectly fine to me, » Obama says. « But I had a wake-up call. » Like many parents, however, « I didn’t know what to do. »

Today, the self-described « mom in chief » is launching Let’s Move, a campaign to help other parents deal with a national health crisis she describes in epic terms.

The goal: to eliminate childhood obesity in a generation.

« It’s an ambitious goal, but we don’t have time to wait, » the first lady said in an interview with USA TODAY in her spacious office in the East Wing of the White House. « We’ve got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty, and get going on this issue. »

King Corn speaks, An ‘agri-intellectual’ talks back

There will always be an ogoing debate concerning whether or not ‘Big Ag’s benefits of feeding a growing world population are worth the social and environmental negatives that come along with it. Certainly sustainable small scale farming is best for the planet, for the animals, for our communites, our health and more, but the reality is that it is just that, small scale and local ( for the most part ). As a supporter of sustainable, bio-intensive farming, no one has to convince me of the benefits as I have seen the benefits for the past 40 years of my farming and gardening experience.  I see projects by John Jeavons at Ecology Action, transfer acres and acres of land into diverse productive food systems. Research Sepp Holzer and the work he has done in Austria on his farm known as Der Krameterhof and you will see the possibilites of integrated permaculture systems.  Around the world we see these projects and see positive results and until more projects like these continue, they remain in the shadows of the combines of Big Ag. How does this scenario get turned around?  Public debate, education, knowledge, awareness and commitment.

Here is one of those ongoing debates…

Farmers Win in Dirty Rice Lawsuit

Ken Bell, a rice grower in southwestern Missouri, remembers that 2006 was shaping up to be one of those years farmers only dare to dream about. « Not only was the market up, » he told me, « but we had a good crop growing. »

Then on August 18, a Friday, Bell’s world collapsed. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that traces of genetically modified rice produced by Bayer CropScience, a division of the huge German drug and chemical company, had somehow escaped test plots and found their way into rice fields in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The GM crop was engineered to survive applications of Liberty Link, a Bayer herbicide. The USDA still does not know what caused the widespread contamination.

By the following Monday morning, worldwide markets for American long-grain rice had evaporated. Japan, Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Iraq imposed restrictions on U.S. rice imports. The European Union demanded that all incoming U.S. rice be tested and certified as free of GM traits. Bell had incurred all of the up-front costs of what was to be that year’s bumper harvest, but suddenly no one would buy it. He lost more than $1.9 million. « It went from a great year to a disaster, » he said.

Future Farming: The Call for a 50-Year Perspective on Agriculture

As everyone scrambles for a solution to the crises in the nation’s economy, Wes Jackson suggests we look to nature’s economy for some of the answers. With everyone focused on a stimulus package in the short term, he counsels that we pay more attention to the soil over the long haul.

“We live off of what comes out of the soil, not what’s in the bank,” said Jackson, president of The Land Institute. “If we squander the ecological capital of the soil, the capital on paper won’t much matter.”

Jackson doesn’t minimize the threat of the current financial problems but argues that the new administration should consider a “50-year farm bill,” which he and the writer/farmer Wendell Berry proposed in a New York Times op/ed earlier this month.

Central to such a bill would be soil. A plan for sustainable agriculture capable of producing healthful food has to come to solve the twin problems of soil erosion and contamination, said Jackson, who co-founded the research center in 1976 after leaving his job as an environmental studies professor at California State University-Sacramento.

Jackson believes that a key part of the solution is in approaches to growing food that mimic nature instead of trying to subdue it. While Jackson and his fellow researchers at The Land Institute continue their work on Natural Systems Agriculture, he also ponders how to turn the possibilities into policy. He spoke with me from his office in Salina, Kansas.

Find out what’s really in your food!

Food Facts is a great website for those wanting to know what really is in the food you eat. This comprehensive website covers not only nutritional ingredients of foods, but all the additives as well, good or bad. This site also provides information on food allergens, recall updates, recipes and so much more.

I think you will find this to be a good resource to be linked to. Check out the short introduction video to Food Facts….

Food Rules: Your Dietary Dos and Don’ts

Earlier this year, Michael Pollan posted a request for reader’s rules about eating on Well, Tara Parker Pope’s health blog. Within days, more than 2,500 responses were received. Here are 20 of Pollan’s favorites…( see article… )

Also, check out Michael’s new book, Food Rules. « Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. In this age of ever-more elaborate diets and conflicting health advice, Food Rules brings a welcome simplicity to our daily decisions about food… » ( see more about the book… )

Intern Wanted – Abundant Acres

We are growing fast here at Abundant Acres and are in need of an intern or two. We wear many hats here, but our main focus is pastured poultry. We have been producing poultry here for five years and have recently joined the Union street market. Wow, do the Gainesville folks love good organic chicken or what !!!
Our ideal person would be someone with an interest in learning the pastured poultry farming business top to bottom, but anyone with a strong desire to farm or learn more would be considered.

We could provide housing for the right candidate(s). And of course many great poultry meals. Following find our contact info.

University of Florida Graduate looking for small farm work…

My name is Alissa Yax I recently graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s in Horticulture and a minor in Organic and Sustainable Crop Production. I am looking to work on a small farm to gain hands on experience in the actual realm of farming. I would really appreciate any opportunity from someone who is looking for someone like me! Additionally, I am staying in this area permanently.

Newest GMO Study Results…

oNewest GMO Study Results…

Longest-Running GMO Safety Study Finds Tumors in Rats

Are GMOs dangerous? A new study shows that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn and Roundup herbicide cause negative health effects in rats, and is raising questions about the safety of GMOs. 

via By Tom Philpott, Mother Earth News-April/May 2013

More than two decades ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted GMOs “generally regarded as safe” status, meaning the industry had no obligation to conduct long-term safety studies. And while GMOs don’t have what scientists call “acute” effects, what about “chronic” effects — those that come on gradually and can’t easily be tied to one cause? The French study — the most comprehensive GMO safety assessment ever conducted — highlights that concern. It involved 200 rats and spanned two years, the life expectancy of the species of rat used. Previously, the longest study had lasted 240 days, says Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union and an expert on GMO research. Industry-funded studies typically last just 90 days.

USDA Grant Panelist

mThis has been a busy week here in Washington DC. I was flown up here as a Grant Review Panelist for USDA and NIFA’s Community Food Project grant program.  What a great learning experience to be involved in and responsible for deciding which projects will be ranked high enough to be considered for grants.

I was with 12 wonderful folks from across the country with a wide range of culture and backgrounds to form this year’s panel.  Prior to arriving we all spent 6 weeks reading and evaluating proposals at our homes, then submitting our evaluations to the NIFA project Director.  Once submitted we were all provided transportation to Washington, DC where for three days diligently discussed, evaluated and ranked all the proposals before us.  They were long days but filled with good conversation and discussion and it really felt good to all of us to have been asked to play this important role in deciding the priority ranking of over 85 grant proposals.

The review panel consisted of a great cross section of academia, food security coordinators and administrators.  I and another colleague were the two ‘grassroots’ panelists who were actual growers as well as having been involved in community food projects in our states.  Naturally he and I became friends and formed a nice relationship.  All the panelists were passionate about food security and it felt great to be apart of this group.

I will look forward to offering advice to those who are writing grants, as I now have first hand knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes in evaluating them, understanding the strengths and determining the weaknesses and how each grant could be strengthened.  Good knowledge to have!

The Raw Facts – Eggs

lJurisdiction:  Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Division of Food Safety

Additionally, if you plan to sell eggs for human consumption and your flock size is more than 3,000 layers or you plan to sell eggs wholesale, you will fall under the jurisdiction and regulations of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service

Florida Food Safety Act ( Florida Statutes Chapter 500 ), an annual food permit is required to process food for direct sale to consumers. The annual food permit, which is issued to the facility, allows individuals to process and sell multiple food products, including eggs. All eggs for human consumption must be processed in a permitted facility.

Form entitled DACS-14221, Form/Request for Initial Inspection and Food Permit Application will need to be completed. This form can be obtained here.

The permit category for processing eggs is Shelled Egg Processor and currently costs $490 per year. If your annual gross food sales are less than $15,000 per year, you can apply for a food permit under the Limited Sales category, which reduces the cost of the permit to $130 per year.

Additionally, if eggs are to be sold at off-farm locations, such as farmers markets, a mobile vendor permit also is required. The fee for the Mobile Vendor Limited Sales category is $130 per year. The green market/farmers market guidelines have now been incorporated into the mobile vendor guide.

To receive an annual food permit, an individual must successfully complete the Food Protection Manager Certification Program.. Food manager is defined as the person responsible for all aspects of the operation at a food establishment regulated by FDACS under the Florida Food Safety Act. All food establishments, including mobile vendors permitted by FDACS, must have a certified food manager. Certification costs will usually run $110 to $160.

Selling Eggs Directly to Consumer

  • Sold in open flats only
  • Labelled not washed or candled ( if not done in a permitted facility )
  • Graded eggs must be candled to check for the quality of the shell as well as the yolk and white inside.  There must be no cracks anywhere on the shell.  The air cell at the top of the egg must be no larger than 1/8th of an inch to be AA quality.  The eggs must also be weighed according to the following specifications for the weight a dozen:
  • Jumbo              30 oz. or more
  • Ex. Large         27 oz.
  • Large               24 oz.
  • Medium            21 oz.
  • Small                18 oz.

Ungraded or unclassified eggs can be sold to the public, but not in dozen containers.  They must be sold on flats and be identified as unclassified by a sign or placard displayed with the eggs.  An acceptable placard is attached above for your convenience.

This in an exceprt from Cognito Farm’s PDF on Egg Labelling…

Here is a quick lesson in eggs labels:

Regular eggs: They are from caged hens – each one gets less than an 8.5 x 11 square inch space and generally shares the cage with 6 or so other hens. They are in a tremendously large warehouse with thousands of other chickens. They can’t spread their wings. They are usually de-beaked.

There usually aren’t any roosters in the warehouse. They are eating non-organic feed.

Cage-free eggs: The chickens are in a tremendously large warehouse with thousands of other chickens. They have access to nest boxes and food. They can stretch their wings. They are usually de-beaked. There usually aren’t any roosters in the warehouse. They are eating non- organic feed.

Organic eggs: The chickens are in a tremendously large warehouse with thousands of other chickens. They have access to nest boxes and food. They can stretch their wings. They are usually de-beaked. There usually aren’t any roosters in the warehouse. They are eating organic feed.

Free-range: The chickens are in a tremendously large warehouse with thousands of other chickens. They have access to nest boxes and food. They can stretch their wings. They are usually de- beaked. There usually aren’t any roosters in the warehouse. They are eating non-organic (or organic – if labeled « organic free-range ») feed. There is a little door in the tremendously-large warehouse that gives them « access to the outside » – « outside » is not defined by the government. It can be a cement slab. The amount of time the chickens must spend outside is not defined.

Chickens will not wander far from their food and water, and rarely will one be brave enough to leave the flock to use the little door. « Free-range » is a joke.

Pastured (this definition hasn’t been approved by the government – they haven’t « created it »…yet): The chickens spend all day outside on fresh pasture. Their nesting boxes, food, water and roosting bars are mobile so that the entire operation can be moved to fresh pasture. Both Mother Earth News and Prevention Magazine have had articles about the difference between conventional and pastured eggs. They found that pastured eggs are superior in nutritional content. I don’t know how other farms do it, but Cognito Farm hens are not de-beaked, they have access to the ground where they can take dust baths, they have roosters who guard them, keep general order among the hens and help them find the roosts at night. Natural mating behavior happens all day long. They are able to express their full chickeness – except setting a clutch of eggs. Most of the setting has been bred out of chickens, but occasionally one decides to go broody and we just take the eggs out from under her. Eventually (within a few days) she gives up and decides to express herself by foraging, and hanging with the others.

One more thing:
The government allows egg processors to « store eggs in cold storage » for up to 30 days. The date of pack is the date they came out of cold storage – and can be as many as 30 days from lay. Or the expiration date can be 45 days from the « pack date ». So, an egg in the store with a 45 day expiration could have been sitting in cold storage for 30 days before being packed.

Wellborn Farms

Wellborn Farms is a family run Agri-Business specializing in seasonal fruit crops. In addition to attending local Farmers Markets we offer U-Pick Blueberries and Persimmons. We are planting Strawberries, Muscadine Grapes, Pears, and Blackberries to have fruit throughout the season.

Spring City Meats

Spring City Meats is family owned and operated by David and Penny Soles in the heart of the Ichetucknee Springs Basin. David Soles, recently retired USDA Inspector in Central Florida, brings years of experience and ensures that the pig you choose will be the highest quality pork money can buy! Our pigs are handled with the utmost respect. Our standards comply with and exceed the USDA natural standards. These standards prohibit the use of artificial ingredients, coloring or chemicals and require minimal meat processing.

Laughing Chicken Farm

Welcome to the Laughing Chicken Farm! Our farming practices are modeled after Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia. We received hands on training there and have brought it home to North Florida. Our products include Pastured Broiler Chickens, Truly Free Range Eggs, Pastured Turkeys in season, and Rabbits. None of our birds receive hormones, antibiotics, chemicals or vaccinations. They are all humanely raised and treated. Farm tours are available by appointment. We personally process all products on the farm and not in a state inspected facility. Therefore they are labeled « animal feed, not for human comsumption ».

The Orange Shop

The Orange Shop in Citra has been providing high-quality citrus to travelers and local residents since 1936. Citrus has been produced on our land continuously since the Civil War. Pete and Cindy Spyke, the owners, were presented with the 2010 Florida Ag-Environmental Leadership Award by Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Bronson for their work in improving the environmental impact of farming and pioneering new rural land settlement patterns. The Orange Shop specializes in fruit grown in Marion County and St. Lucie County, which is the heart of the Indian River growing region.

Farm to Restaurant Workshop

Blue Oven Kitchens, Forage, and the UF/IFAS Small Farms Team are hosting the third annual Farm-to-Restaurant Workshop & Culinary Fair on Monday, August 13th at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center.  Registration is required.  This event is for farmers, restaurants, caterers, distributors, Extension, and non-profits working in local food.  The purpose of this workshop is to bring these groups together to learn and share in order to foster local food connections in local foodservice.  This event is not open to the public.

Local vs Global

mModern agribusiness is a huge energy consumer, environmental polluter and resource abuser, dependant on fossil fuels. According to most research, most food products on the grocery shelf travel well over 1500 miles before they reach your table, with 80% of the total energy going toward transportation, packaging, storing and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This is not sustainable agriculture.

Local sustainable agriculture is a prcatice in resource management, protecting the environment, building up the soil and minimizing the large energy output that goes to transportation, packaging and processing. By utilizing farmer’s markets, local food markets and restaurants, farmers, from small sustainable farms, contribute to a healhty food community while reducing the negative impact on the environment through a much smaller carbon footprint.

How do you benefit from buying local?

Several benefits are evident right up front:

    • More nutritious: Less travel time from farm to table

 

    • Less impact on the environment: A smaller carbon footprint due to less transportation, packaging, chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

 

  • Money stays in the local economy

On a more wider scale we see many more important benfits:

    • Support of the local farmer: Farmers are laboring in the elements; the hot sun, the cold, the rain, insects, etc. They are long hours and often stressful hours. As a grower I know what it is like to see crops fail due to the weather, diseases or insect attack. There is stress in the timetables and making sure the sowing and planting is done on time and likewise the harvesting. Farming is labor intensive. The rewards are there as well. Looking out over the farm, there is a feeling that you know you are contributing something very good to the benefit your community and to nature. When you purchase from a farmer, whether at a Farmer’s Market or grocery store, or visit a restaurant that supports your farmer, you reward the hard work and help support a local member of your community.

The opportunity to meet the person who grows your food is certainly valuable. You can ask questions about farming practices used or about the crops grown and find out more about harvesting dates, subscription services and more. You are meeting and making friends with the person growing your food, that’s totally cool!

  • Food Safety: How many times over the years have we read about or heard about food recalls due to Salmonella or other bacteria? Too often! Not only that but we are faced with foods on our shelves grown with unsafe pesticides, fungicides, hormones, genetic engeneering and artificial fertilizers and as we watch year after year, the crops need more and more of these to grow while the yields decline. Many of the major foods like corn, soybeans, wheat and others have the herbicides and/or insectcides genetically engineered into the seed from the start! This can not be good for you. Buying local lets you ask the farmer how they handle these problems in a safe way.

Farm Fresh Planting Guide

Vegetable

Planting Dates in Florida (outdoors)1

Days to

Harvest4

Seeds/plants

Per 100′

Spacing (inches)

Seed

depth

(inches)

North

Central

South

Rows

Plants

Bush Beans, Snap

Mar-Apr Aug-Sep

Feb-Apr Sep

Sep-Apr

50-60

1 lb.

18-30

2-3

1-2

Beans, pole

Mar-Apr Aug-Sep

Feb-Apr Aug-Sep

Aug-Apr

55-70

½ lb.

40-48

3-6

1-2

Beans, lima

Mar-Aug

Feb-Apr Sept.

Aug-Apr

65-75

2 lb.

24-36

3-4

1-2

Beets

Sep-Mar

Oct-Mar

Oct-Feb

50-65

1 oz.

14-24

3-5

½ -1

Broccoli

Aug-Feb

Aug-Jan

Sept-Jan

75-90

100 plts (1/8 oz.)

30-36

12-18

½ -1

Cabbage

Sep-Feb

Sep-Jan

Sep-Jan

90-110 (70-90)

100 plts

(1/8 oz)

24-36

12-24

½ -1

Cantaloupes

Mar-Apr

Feb-Apr

Aug-Sep Feb-Mar

75-90 (65-75)

½ oz.

60-72

24-36

1-2

Carrots

Sep-Mar

Oct-Mar

Oct-Feb

65-80

1/8 oz.

16-24

1-3

½

Cauliflower

Jan-Feb Aug-Oct

Oct-Jan

Oct-Jan

75-90 (55-70)

55 plts (1/8 oz)

24-30

18-24

½ -1

Celery

Jan-Mar

Aug-Feb

Oct-Jan

115-125 (80-105)

150 plts (1/8 oz)

24-36

6-10

¼ – ½

Chinese cabbage

Oct-Feb

Oct-Jan

Nov-Jan

70-90 (60-70)

125 plts (1/8 oz)

24-36

12-24

¼ – ¾

Collards

Feb-Apr Aug-Nov

Aug-Mar

Aug-Feb

70-80

100 plts (1/8 oz)

24-30

10-18

½ -1

Corn, sweet

Mar-Apr Aug

Feb-Mar Aug-Sep

Aug-Mar

60-95

2 oz.

24-36

12-18

1-2

Cucumbers

Feb-Apr Aug-Sep

Feb-Mar Sep

Sep-Mar

50-65 (40-50)

½ oz.

36-60

12-24

1-2

Eggplant

Feb-July

Jan-Mar Aug-Sep

Dec-Feb Aug-Oct

90-110 (75-90)

50 plts

1 pkt

36-42

24-36

½

Endive/Escarole

Feb-Mar Sep

Jan-Feb Sep

Sep-Jan

80-95

100 plts

18-24

8-12

½

Kale

Sep-Feb

Sep-Jan

Sep-Jan

75

70-80 (55)

100 plts (1/8 oz)

24-30

12-18

Kohlrabi

Sep-Mar

Oct-Mar

Oct-Feb

70-80 (50-55)

1/8 oz.

24-30

3-5

½ -1

Lettuce: Crisp, Butter-head, Leaf & Romaine

Feb-Mar Sep-Oct

Sep-Mar

Sep-Jan

50-90

100 plts

(1/4 oz.)

12-24

8-12

½

Mustard

Sep-May

Sep-Mar

Sep-Mar

40-60

¼ oz.

14-24

1-6

½ -1

Okra

Mar-July

Mar-Aug

Aug-Sep

50-75

1 oz.

24-40

6-12

1-2

Onions, Bulbing

Sep-Dec

Sep-Dec

Sep-Nov

120-160 (110-120)

300 plts/ sets, 1 oz seed

12-24

4-6

½ -1

Onions, Bunching (Green onions)

Aug-Mar

Aug-Mar

Sep-Mar

50-75 (30-40)

800 plts/sets, 1 – 1½ oz seed

12-24

1-2

2-3

Onions (Shallots)

« 

« 

« 

100

(30-40)

18-24

6-8

½ – ¾

Peas, English

Jan-Mar

Sep-Mar

Sep-Feb

50-70

1 lb.

24-36

2-3

1-2

Peas, southern

Mar-Aug

Mar-Sep

Aug-Apr

60-90

½ oz.

30-36

2-3

1-2

Peppers

Feb-Apr July-Aug

Jan-Mar Aug-Sep

Aug-Mar

80-100 (60-80)

100 plts 1 pkt

20-36

12-24

½

Potatoes

Jan-Mar

Jan-Feb

Sep-Jan

85-110

15 lbs.

36-42

8-12

3-4

Potatoes, sweet

Mar-Jun

Feb-Jun

Feb-Jun

(120-140)

100 plts

48-54

12-14

Pumpkin

Mar-Apr Aug

Feb-Mar Aug

Jan-Feb Aug-Sep

90-120 (80-110)

1 oz.

60-84

36-60

1-2

Radish

Sep-Mar

Sep-Mar

Oct-Mar

20-30

1 oz.

12-18

1-2

¾

Spinach

Oct-Nov

Oct-Nov

Oct-Jan

45-60

1 oz.

14-18

3-5

¾

Squash, Summer

Mar-Apr Aug-Sep

Feb-Mar Aug-Sep

Jan-Mar Sep-Oct

40-55 (35-40)

1½ oz.

36-48

24-36

1-2

Squash, Winter

Mar Aug

Feb-Mar Aug

Jan-Feb Sep

80-110 (70-90)

1 oz.

60-90

36-48

1-2

Strawberry

Oct-Nov

Oct-Nov

Oct-Nov

(90-110)

100 plts

36-40

10-14

Tomatoes, Stake

Feb-Apr Aug

Jan-Mar Sep

Aug-Mar

90-110 (75-90)

70 plts

1 pkt

36-48

18-24

½

Tomatoes, Ground

200

90-110 (75-90)

35 plts

1 pkt

40-60

36-40

Tomatoes, Container

200

90-110 (75-90)

Turnips

Jan-Apr Aug-Oct

Jan-Mar Sep-Nov

Oct-Feb

40-60

¼ oz.

12-20

4-6

½ -1

Watermelon, Large

Mar-Apr July-Aug

Jan-Mar Aug

Jan-Mar Aug-Sep

85-95 (80-90)

1/8 oz.

84-108

48-60

1-2

Watermelon, Small

85-95 (80-90)

1/8 oz.

48-60

15-30

« 

Watermelon, Seedless

85-95 (80-90)

70 plts

48-60

15-30

« 

North: north of State Rd 40; Central: between State Rds 40 and 70; South: south of State Rd 70.

2 Rotate crops to avoid soil pest problems; avoid planting vegetables belonging to the same family in successive seasons.

3 Transplantability categories: I, easily survives transplanting; II, survives with care; III, use seeds or containerized transplants only.

4 Days from seeding to harvest: Values in parentheses are days from transplanting to first harvest.

This document is SP 103, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date December 1999. Revised December 2010. Reviewed February 2012.

What’s in Season this August

Produce:  Eggplant, Grapes, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Okra, Peanuts, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pumpkins, Southern Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Watermelon.

Herbs: Basil,  Chives,  Culantro,  Celery Leaf,  Fennel,  Lemongrass, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Marjoram, Mints, , Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Winter Savory, Tarragon, Thyme

Farm Fresh By The Month

January…

Arugula, Basil, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Papayas, Parsley, Pineapple, Prickly Pear Cactus, Spinach, Sweet Limes, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tomatoes, and Turnip Greens.

icon-plantingFebruary…

Arugula, Basil, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, English Peas, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Parsley, Pineapple, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Turnips and Turnip Greens.

icon-plantingMarch…

Arugula, Basil, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, English Peas, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Parsley, Pineapple, Radishes, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Spinach, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnips and Turnip Greens.

icon-plantingApril…

Arugula, Basil, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, English Peas, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Parsley, Radishes, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, and Turnips.

icon-plantingMay…

Basil, Blackberries, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions (bulb), Oranges, Parsley, Pole Beans, Potatoes, Radishes, Rutabagas, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Southern Peas, Strawberries, Swiss Chard, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.

icon-plantingJune…

Arugula, Basil, Blackberries, Beets, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Limes, Okra, Onions (bulb), Parsley, Peaches, Pole Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rutabagas, Snow and Sugar Snap Peas, Southern Peas, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.

icon-plantingJuly…

Arugula, Basil, Blueberries, Cantaloupe, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Onions, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Limes, Okra, Onions (bulb), Peaches, Peanuts, Pineappel, Pole Beans,Potatoes, Pumpkins, Southern Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Winter Squash, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.

icon-plantingAugust…

Basil, Eggplant, Grapes, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Okra, Peanuts, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pumpkins, Southern Peas, Sweet Potatoes, and Watermelon.

icon-plantingSeptember…

Bananas, Basil, Cantaloupe, Chestnuts, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Grapes, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lettuce, Limes, Okra, Papaya, Peanuts, Persimmons, Pineapple, Pumpkins, Radishes, Southern Peas, Sugar Cane, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Watermelon and Zucchini.

icon-plantingOctober…

Arugula, Bananas, Basil, Cantaloupe, Chestnuts, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Okra, Papaya, Pecans, Persimmons, Pineapple, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pumpkins, Radishes, Satsumas, Southern Peas, Sugar Cane, Sweet Limes, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Watermelon, and Zucchini.

icon-plantingNovember…

Arugula, Bananas, Basil, Beets, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Endive, Green Beans, Green Peppers, Hot Peppers, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Papayas, Parsley, Pecans, Pineapple, Pommelo, Prickly Pear Cactus, Pumpkin, Radishes, Satsumas, Spinach, Sweet Limes, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Winter Squash, Yacon, Yellow Squash, and Zucchini.

icon-plantingDecember…

Arugula, Bananas, Basil, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Collard Greens, Cucumbers, Endive, Grapefruit, Kale, Lemons, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Oranges, Papayas, Parsley, Pecans, Pineapple, Pommelo, Prickly Pear Cactus, Rutabagas, Satsumas, Spinach, Sweet Limes, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Tangelos, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Winter Squash, and Yacon.

Help FOG and KACB build a garden in the Porters Community!

We’re asking for support from Gainesville and broader Alachua County community to assist us in raising funds to build a garden in the Porters Community on the corner of Depot Ave. and SW 2nd St. All you have to do is visit this site and vote for our project.

If the project gets the most votes it will be eligible for:

  • A $10,000 grant to be used toward the cost of planting an organic garden in their community in 2010 (cash grant)
  • Coaching from Organic Gardening magazine to help establish the garden, including technical assistance with design, and technical assistance and guidance to build it (estimated value $5,000)
  • An organic breakfast fundraising event and garden dedication hosted by Nature’s Path to raise funds for the winning organization. Nature’s Path will provide free breakfast at the event and give away reusable shopping bags (estimated value $10,000) Nature’s Path will also be making a product donation to a local Food Bank in the chosen communities (value depending on size of the community and need with a maximum value of $100,000)

Please send the link to your email lists and any others you can think of who could log in and support this project. Thanks everyone for your continued support of expanding food production in Gainesville and providing quality, fresh food to residents with low-incomes in our community.

Florida Food Safety and Food Defense Advisory Council Meeting

The date for our rescheduled Florida Food Safety & Food Defense Advisory Council meeting is Tuesday, June 29, 2010.
This meeting will be held in the Eyster Auditorium, from 10:00am – 12:00 Noon. The Eyster is located in the Conner Building, at 3125 Conner Boulevard in Tallahassee.
If you cannot attend, but would like to participate via conference call, the call-in information is as follows:
( you can email me here at Gainesville Farm Fresh for the phone number and password to participate in this event )
If you have any questions, please let me know. Thank you!

Organic Food & Film Festival…

WHAT: Organic Food & Film Festival with screening of three films
WHEN: Saturday, May 15, 2010, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. 
ADMISSION: FREE for holistic/organic trade show. Tickets for films: $5 per person per film.
Enjoy a relaxed Saturday — sample organic foods, expand your health-care choices, and watch one, two, or three life-changing and inspiring films about health and organic food. Exhibits indoors and out. Films at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. (Summaries and movie previews/trailers below) .

Let nature decide what’s for dinner…

Have you ever bitten into a bland, mealy peach in the middle of winter? That stomach-turning taste and texture may be nature’s way of telling you to start eating seasonally.

Just because you see a mango in your local supermarket during the fall or winter, doesn’t mean that it’s « in season » in your area. In the United States, shoppers have gotten used to having almost every fruit and vegetable available for purchase year-round. Produce is typically imported from other countries during times of the year when these fruits and veggies cannot be grown domestically. Despite the obvious convenience of consistently having a large array of foods available in your grocery store, imported produce may be smaller, more expensive, and simply taste below par.

As a healthy and environmental friendly means of supporting your local farmer and agricultural system, try eating with the seasons. By purchasing produce that is grown locally and at a seasonally appropriate time, you’ll benefit from more fresh, delicious, and affordable food. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall, there is always a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from.

Our Dwindling Food Variety

As we’ve come to depend on a handful of commercial varieties of fruits and vegetables, thousands of heirloom varieties have disappeared. It’s hard to know exactly how many have been lost over the past century, but a study conducted in 1983 by the Rural Advancement Foundation International gave a clue to the scope of the problem. It compared USDA listings of seed varieties sold by commercial U.S. seed houses in 1903 with those in the U.S. National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983. The survey, which included 66 crops, found that about 93 percent of the varieties had gone extinct. More up-to-date studies are needed.

Acknowledgements
Gainesville Farm Fresh is a community service website. I would personally like to thank those individuals and organizations whose support and input have helped make this site successful. If you have any questions about this site, please use the contact information to the right or in the top menu. Thank you!

SNAP cardholders can now buy fresh farm products

Local farmers’ markets will soon have another payment option: SNAP benefit cards.

The program, paid for by a Florida Organic Growers grant, will allow low-income county residents to use their SNAP cards, formerly food stamps, to buy fresh and locally produced foods.

Florida Organic Growers will use EBT technology at the Union Street Farmers’ Market and Alachua County Farmers’ Market.

Christine Hale, the group’s education and outreach director, said she hopes access to fresh produce will change food habits.

« Obesity is just through the roof in our community, » she said. « If we can get them eating fresh fruits and veggies at a young age, we can curb that obesity. »

The High Springs Farmers’ Market is the only market in the county to currently use EBT.

The program should begin by mid-December. Florida Organic Growers will operate the EBT scanner at both markets. Users would designate an amount to spend, and the group will double it. Users could then spend their tokens on products allowed by the SNAP program, and vendors would redeem their tokens at the nonprofit’s booth.

The group also will be enrolling people for SNAP benefits.

Wal-Mart Goes Local: Good or Bad for Small Farmers?

The nation’s largest retailer announced last week that it’s going local through its Heritage Agriculture program. Wal-Mart plans to double its sale of “locally grown food” by 2015 in all of its U.S. stores and also support small and mid-sized farmers in their movement toward sustainable food production.

The new initiative will invest Wal-Mart in the local food system (“local” meaning food that’s grown and sold within the same state) and increase the company’s total percentage of locally grown produce to 9 percent by 2015. The goal by this time is to have sold $1 billion worth of food from 1 million farmers, increasing the farmers’ income by 10 to 15 percent over the next three years. Wal-Mart also promises a Sustainability Index will be made available in all of its stores so consumers have information about production methods and the products used right at their fingertips.

“It may seem out of character for Wal-Mart to act as an agent for positive change,” writes Ari LeVaux on Alternet.org. “But remember: the only thing Wal-Mart could do that would truly be out of character would be to knowingly undermine its bottom line.”

Wal-Mart to Buy More Local Produce

The local-and-sustainable food movement has spread to the nation’s largest retailer.
Wal-Mart Stores announced a program on Thursday that focuses on sustainable agriculture among its suppliers as it tries to reduce its overall environmental impact.
The program is intended to put more locally grown food in Wal-Mart stores in the United States, invest in training and infrastructure for small and medium-size farmers, particularly in emerging markets, and begin to measure how efficiently large suppliers grow and get their produce into stores.
Advocates of environmentally sustainable farming said the announcement was significant because of Wal-Mart’s size and because it would give small farmers a chance at Wal-Mart’s business, but they questioned how “local” a $405 billion company with two million employees — more than the populations of Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont combined — could be.

A Local Non-Profit Organization Says Popsicles Can Impact the Economy…

What do popsicles have to do with the local economy? According to a non-profit organization called Blue Oven Kitchens, quite a lot!
The organization helps grow the economy by helping new food-based businesses get started. And they’ve already helped turn one man’s « cool » idea into a broiling hot business.
It’s called « The Pop Stop. »
Owner, Taylor Daugherty said, « We do handmade, natural popsicles…we have a pushcart and a go-ped. »
The Pop Stop makes uniquely flavored popsicles and takes them all around Gainesville on hot days, especially game days. Daugherty said the business wouldn’t be possible without Blue Oven Kitchens.
Daugherty said, « If we hadn’t been able to hook up with them, our start up costs would’ve been 3, 4, 5 times as much. »
Blue Oven Kitchens helps cut down expenses by connecting entrepreneurs with already established regulated commercial cooking facilities to rent. They also provide guidance until the business is self-sufficient.
The Pop Stop is still in development, but Daugherty said that the response has been great. In fact, he’s sold out every time he’s taken the carts to the streets.
Co-founder of Blue Oven Kitchens and restaurant owner, Maya Garner, encourages others to bring their ideas to the table too.
Garner said, « Anyone can come and do it….it’s about having the dream and the desire and the drive and then the rest- you leave it to us. »

Florida Organic Growers

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) is pleased to distribute the publication Community Vision for Food System Development in Gainesville-Alachua County: A Local Food Action Plan, available for download as a PDF on the FOG website.

FOG began this project in March 2009 with support from a USDA Community Food Planning Grant and the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation, bringing together stakeholders to discuss food systems planning with a specific focus on community food security for low-income residents. We would like to thank each of you for participating in this process; your ideas and concerns were taken into consideration as this planning project progressed through various stages of stakeholder collaboration.

The result was four key recommendations that provide the foundation for the attached publication. We welcome feedback on the planning process and the publication when it is formally presented to the public at the Alachua County Food Security Summit 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 NW 53rd Avenue, Gainesville. We hope you will attend, and continue your contribution to increasing food security in your community.

Senate stall to blame for slow egg recall?

The Senate’s yearlong failure to pass a food safety overhaul has hampered the ability of Obama administration to quickly recall the 600 million eggs connected to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 2,000 people, experts and lawmakers say. The House approved its version of the food safety bill in July 2009 — that was more than 60 recalls of Food and Drug Administration regulated products ago, according to a report by the Make Our Food Safe Coalition. But the Senate has continued to drag its feet. The pressure is now on Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has consistently pushed the bill to the backburner. Lawmakers, aides and analysts say Reid must bring the bill to the floor when the Senate returns in September in light of the major deficiencies in a nearly century-old regulatory system —- and one of the worst food outbreaks yet.

Introducing the Farm Fresh Community Market

Just as Gainesville Farm Fresh brings you resources on sustainable agriculture and our local food community, The Farm Fresh Community Market debuts as Gainesville’s online marketplace that will put you in touch with our local farmers, producers and their products.  Here you will have the opportunity to browse their products, 24/7, place your order and then pickup your order at any of the local farmer’s markets that your grower participates in or at one of our participating delivery locations like the new Citizen’s Co-op.

‘Always Fresh and Always Local’, The Farm Fresh Community Market is your market connecting you to your area growers and producers.  There are no fees or membership dues, just a place to buy, sell and support those that dedicate their time to grow your food, produce your products and provide you with the opportunity to be a part of securing and defining our local food economy.

Coupled with the market, there will be a new resources in development connecting growers and chefs.  After a very informative and well attended Farm to Restaurant discussion panel , held by Val Leitner of Blue Oven Kitchens and Anna Prizzia of Slow Food Gainesville, GFF, through the Farm Fresh Market, will be coordinating with Val and Anna to highlite their efforts with their Farm to Restaurant project.

Follow the progress as the market moves ahead. Don’t mind the dust as it will continue to be in development. Over the next few weeks the market will begin listing member growers and their products, so please check in often and feel free to offer your advice, support and opionions.

The « Raw » Facts – Milk…

Raw Milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. 

Pasteurization is a heating process meant to kill bacteria, and homogenization is the process of making the milk one consistency throughout.

Raw milk sales for human consumption, in Florida, are illegal. Since 1987, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required all milk intended for human consumption and entering interstate commerce to be pasteurized. However, the FDA explicitly allows the states to regulate intrastate milk sale and consumption.

Department of Agriculture policy permits the sale of raw milk when labeled as PET FOOD, and not for human consumption, even though there is no state law that covers this issue. The state permits raw milk sales for animal consumption either on the farm or in retail stores. Containers should have a label clearly stating that the raw milk is for animal consumption only. Regardless of how it is packaged, there are no laws regarding how people may use the milk once they buy it and bring it home.

A growing number of U.S. consumers are devotees of unpasteurized « raw » cow, goat, and sheep milk. Milk can be easily contaminated by several common viruses and bacteria, and serious health risks are associated with consuming contaminated milk. Pasteurization is a process that cooks the milk for short periods of time to reduce disease pathogens. However, it may also reduce some of milk’s inherently beneficial qualities, such as available nutrients, active enzymes, helpful bacteria, calcium absorption, and taste. Despite the potential risks to human health, consumers continue to demand and producers continue to market raw milk to the general public. This can trigger liability under a number of legal theories….

Raw milk producers may have a special duty to warn.  When raw milk is sold to consumers for pet or human consumption, a warning or disclaimer often accompanies the product. Once a duty to warn arises, the manufacturer who has provided it may still be liable for harm if the warning is inadequate. A qualitative evaluation may find that the warning did not sufficiently advise of the product’s potential dangers, which is « no better than providing no warning at all. Mandatory warnings and labels do not shield the producer or vendor from liability in negligence actions. Udder nonsense? The emerging issue of raw milk sales in Florida.

Farm to Restaurant

mFarm-to-Restaurant is an initiative of Blue Oven Kitchens ( a non-profit kitchen incubator serving North Central Florida ) and Slow Food Gainesville that seeks to encourage business partnerships between local farmers, distributors, restaurants, caterers, and other local vendors that sell food to the public.

The Farm-to-Restaurant Workshops series began with our July 19th event at Joe’s Place restaurant, with over 50 entrepreneurs and business professionals in attendance. The character of each workshop varies:  some are more social and networking-focused; some provide fora for open discussion of key challenges and opportunities; and some present information on key business concepts for food-based businesses, such as legal, financial, or regulatory issues.

More events are being planned, so please check in often to view our calendar. You may sign up here for the email listserv.

It is important and wise for the consumer to be familiar with their producers, to talk to them about their farming and production practices  and even take part in area Farm Tours to visit and learn first hand from the source about the quality and safety behind the products they sell and we consume.