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Sunday, April 24


Special thanks to event organizer Dr. Jennifer Taylor for the insightful and delicious Earth Day feast and conversation with internationally known agrarian elder, Jim Gerritsen at the Indigo Bistro Restaurant in Tallahassee.

A crowd of about 50 people, including many small, local farmers attended to hear Jim speak on organic farming, growing the best organic potatoes, building resilient agriculture and food systems, the role of organic farms, and threats to organic food security and organic food integrity:

"Organic farming IS the traditional agriculture, going back 10,000 years. What is recently termed as "conventional" agriculture isn't that at all, but it should be more correctly called chemically enhanced agriculture.
Organic farming is good food systems that are economically, politically and environmentally sustainable. 
It's propaganda that organic farming cannot feed the world.  It's the only thing that can.
The world also has to deal with its enormous food waste problem.  Of the food that is produced, at least 40% goes to waste.   
Remember, hunger is not a food problem, it's a problem of poverty."   

Jim Gerritsen has been a successful organic farmer for more than 30 years. He and his wife Megan own and farm Maine’s Organic Wood Prairie Family Farm.

He spoke frequently of the many times here his children and his neighbors helped in plantings and harvests. Noting his successful farm, some of the nearby farms in Maine are adopting many of his organic farming methods

He has served for over twenty years on the Certification Committee of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). He co-founded and now serves as President of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA). He has cooperated in numerous on-farm research trials with scientists, including those from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Maine.

The OSGATA has published a Farmer's Handbook to help protect organic farmers and their organic crops from genetically engineered (GE) contamination. Written by the national farmer-run membership organization for the organic seed trade, the book serves as a one-stop mitigation tool. It is available as a free digital download here or a print edition can be ordered for $5.00 shipping and handling.

Support your local farmers! To farmers who contributed to the feast, a Special Thanks:
Bumpy Road Farm, Crescent Moon Farm, Full Earth Farm, iGrow Youth Farm, Little Eden Heirloom Farm, Owen River Farm LLC, Ripe City Urban Farm, Sanguon's Garden, The Ragged Glory Farm and Turkey Hill Farm.

Thanks also to Trader Joe's for their donation of certified organic potatoes.

This Earth Day event was a collaborative effort of our community including FAMU StateWide Small Farm Program, IFAS/Cooperative Extension-Leon County, Sustainable Tallahassee, Florida Organic Growers, local small farmers and Indigo Bistro, an organic restaurant. Located at 1690 Raymond Diehl Road, #Tallahassee, they serve local, organic food until 2:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.

Friday, April 8

The Importance of Food Policy

How do we create a food system to make healthy, affordable food accessible for all?  Often called 'the good food movement,' people around the world are reviewing existing food systems and identifying barriers to access and recommending changes to improve access for all.  

Challenges include: 
  • Overcoming structural barriers to create a food system that is equitable for producers, consumers, and workers alike
  • Elevating the voice of disadvantaged communities in food system efforts
  • Gathering more data on the current infrastructure and gaps in the supply chain, and enhancing coordination of regional food initiatives
  • Opening and influencing mainstream, institutional markets
  • Strengthening the advocacy capacity of organizations engaged in food system work

For the past year, a small group of people in the Tallahassee area have been meeting and discussing this question and developing a template for the creation of a food policy council.  Looking at systems and barriers in all aspect related to food is the first step. Where does the food we eat come from, how does food move from farms to consumers, how is food sold, how do people consume food, how is food waste handled? 

The group has met with a number of stakeholders in order to identify policy changes that can make our system more equitable, sustainable, and profitable. 
Partnerships have formed within the greater food community in the Tallahassee/Leon County area, networking through non-profits, governmental agencies, universities, food retailers, small farmers, composting businesses, health advocates, food entrepreneurs and community development activists.  

Moving forward, the group will formalize its organizational structure, identify and prioritize policies as the best places to focus first efforts, seek funding and administrative support.  

As that effort moves forward, the larger, statewide council has been resurrected with the renewed energy of food advocates, growers, consumers, academics, retailers, health professionals and other institutions. 
Called The Florida Food Policy Council, it will encourage the development and expansion of the capacity of local food systems (foodsheds) to meet food security needs in communities across Florida through advocacy, network-building, training and providing tools designed to increase production, distribution and consumption of healthy, local food for the planet, ecosystems and people.  
It will be representative of all the regions of the state and all walks of life – farmers, distributors, consumers, chefs, policy makers, and other stakeholders. This breadth of diversity is needed, since everybody will bring their gifts to the joint work. The final outcome of this collaborative effort is that everyone within the system will be more successful.
“We live in a regulated, regimented society, there are rules for everything…Some of these rules and policies, be they at the state, county or local level, severely inhibit an individual’s or organization’s ability to grow food locally and sustainable.
"I realized that I can either change the system or sit on the sidelines and complain.” ~ Rachel Shapiro, member of the Florida Food Policy Council and the Executive Director of Heal the Planet and founder of Integrous Health Solutions.
Here's how you can become a part of this important community movement and work to change the systems:

Become a member of the Florida Food Policy Council, a year's membership is $25 and supports a quarterly newsletter, the website and online resources, discounts to future food policy events and most importantly you are supporting efforts to develop a more sustainable and just food system for all.

Here's the link to the website and membership sign-up:
The next statewide meeting is tentatively scheduled for July.

Join the Florida Food Policy Council Facebook Group:

For more information about the Tallahassee/Leon County group developing the beginnings of a food policy council e-mail:  Michelle Gomez.

Tuesday, September 1

A Recipe For Longevity? Beans, Friends, Purpose And Movement


Can Tallahassee/Leon County cultivate a climate where a farm can grow and sell produce? What does zoning mean for local farms?

The Land Use Division of Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department is taking a look at 'urban agriculture' zoning and the future of farms such as Ripe City in #Tallahassee.

A fledgling Food Policy Group has been meeting since last year's Sustainability Summit to look at food systems and policies affecting access to food, affordability of food, food deserts and regulatory barriers to food production in our area.

The interest of the Planning Department also came directly from the Leon County Sustainability Summit - Food for Us, held in January 2015.

While community gardens have existed in the area for years, the need for the zoning changes happened after business like Ripe City Urban Farm started to sell for a profit. Planners feel this draws additional traffic and people to an area. Ripe City is on the site formerly farmed as Ten Speed Greens. The former farm owners ended their business there because of uncertainties about their ability to farm there long term.

The Tallahassee-Leon County Planning Department plans to post a survey on its website for people to submit and give their input about urban agriculture.  

You can read the full summary from the 2015 Summit (in PDF)  here

More on Ripe City Urban Farm:

Friday, April 3


photo by
Renee at Twin Oaks Farm shares her tips for coloring eggs without using chemicals at this post.

Here are some colorful tips over at Mommypotamus all using natural, every day ingredients.  

Boiling the colors with vinegar will result in deeper colors. Some materials need to be boiled to impart their color. Some of the fruits, vegetables, and spices can be used cold. To use a cold material, cover the boiled eggs with water, add dyeing materials, a teaspoon or less of vinegar, and let the eggs remain in the refrigerator until the desired color is achieved. In most cases, the longer you leave Easter eggs in the dye, the more deeply colored they will become.  Below is a chart from on natural Easter egg dyes:  

Natural Easter Egg Dyes

LavenderSmall Quantity of Purple Grape Juice
Violet Blossoms plus 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Red Zinger Tea
Violet BlueViolet Blossoms
Small Quantity of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Hibiscus Tea
Red Wine
BlueCanned Blueberries
Red Cabbage Leaves (boiled)
Purple Grape Juice
GreenSpinach Leaves (boiled)
Liquid Chlorophyll
Greenish YellowYellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)
YellowOrange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Carrot Tops (boiled)
Celery Seed (boiled)
Ground Cumin (boiled)
Ground Turmeric (boiled)
Chamomile Tea
Green Tea
Golden BrownDill Seeds
BrownStrong Coffee
Instant Coffee
Black Walnut Shells (boiled)
Black Tea
OrangeYellow Onion Skins (boiled)
Cooked Carrots
Chili Powder
Cranberries or Juice
Red Grape Juice
Juice from Pickled Beets
RedLots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Canned Cherries with Juice
Pomegranate Juice

Friday, February 27


William McCluskey and I have several things in common, even though we don't know each other. One, we love flowcharts and we wanted a simpler way to find resources about Tallahassee's emerging local food scene.

Enter Proper Channel, a visual wikipedia of sorts filled with a wide variety of information and resources. One example is the chart he and his team developed for the local food movement. You can see the chart here.

Will and his team have built a simple, collaborative tool that helps people create, share and use process maps to maneuver through any task. There's even a page to explain how to make a page! In this case, the food system channel, Food For Us, lists categories such as community gardens, food sales and distribution, food in schools and much more. The screen shot below shows an example of the Food For Us channel. This is open-source software, which means that anyone can go in and enter their information, building a wealth of resources, similar to the way Wikipedia is built.

If used by many with knowledge about the components, the Food For Us channel can be a great resource for all the segments interested in finding information about food in our Region.

Sunday, January 25

Agroecology- Examining the impacts of GMOs

Coming off the amazing discussions and presenters at the Food For All Conference at the Leon County's Sustainability Summit, here's another great opportunity to build your learning curve: 

2015 Sustainable Development Session
Examining the impacts of GMOs and glyphosate, on environment, animals, and public health:
Best management practices
Presenter: Dr. Don Huber
Two-Day Session: January 26 - 27 2015
3:00pm – 6:00pm
Venue: FAMU Center for Viticulture and Small Fruit Research
6505 E. Mahan Drive, Tallahassee

This capacity building session with Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University is an internationally recognized plant scientist who has been very outspoken about the potential dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

During our session Dr. Huber will share insights on mineral nutrition of plants, mineral nutrition for disease control, glyphosate and GMO crops, remediation, and the impact of glyphosate and GMOs on soil, crops, animal and human health with respect to best management practices. Registration: $20.00/person.

Farmers, community gardeners, and consumers encouraged to learn more about these critical issues that impact the sustainability of our food and our organic farming communities.

This capacity building session is a collaborative effort of FAMU Statewide Small Farm Program, PGG, Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers (FOG), and Local Small Farmers .

For additional information about this and other sustainable development efforts contact:
Dr. Jennifer Taylor, FAMU StateWide Small Farm Programs.

Thursday, October 30


Persimmons. What do you do with them?  One farmer told me she just stands over the kitchen sink, cuts them open and eats them down to the skin.

I bought some at the Lake Ella Growers Market yesterday afternoon. This morning I had persimmons in my frig. Thinking of adding them to a mixture for topping gluten free waffles. . .but, cold fruit's a no go on hot waffles.  I warmed a skinned persimmon in a pan, scraping the inside skin to collect all the juicy fruit I could. I added a pinch of cinnamon. Done!  

I layered one toasted waffle with half a sliced banana and half of the warmed persimmons, added the second waffle and the rest of the topping.  Goodness ensued. I thought briefly of taking a picture, like a true foodie, but hunger prevailed. 

The local fruit will be available for only a short time. Go invent some goodness with yours!

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