Great Season of Fresh Veggies
The setting for Tea in the Garden this year was quite dramatic! Dark skies glowered and rain showers rolled through during morning setup and the radar was painted red with precipitation al day--with a 90% chance for 4:00 PM. In spite of these long odds, our amazing Hostesses and vendors trooped in with their table decorations and set up. Word was that it was indeed going to be a Tea in the Garden not in a building! Sure enough-- the sell out crowd showed up and tours began, live music flowed, great Tea sandwiches from Whole Food Market Pompano were served, conversation bubbled and speeches flowed under dry skies while all around the county it poured. Folks learned about our work as a non-profit in Food, Education and Community. All of you were very generous--with over $4,000 raised!
and Food Education for Families in Crisis
In January of this year, we began delivering vegetables to Hope South Florida's Rio House, a project that provides rapid re-housing for four single mothers-in-crisis and their children. Every week, the families received overflowing bags of fresh produce with broccoli, potatoes, collard greens, tomatoes, bananas, kale, and green beans being some of their favorites. Amanda, our Health & Nutrition intern together with Mari Carl our Garden/Farm Manager held monthly cooking classes with the moms and their children at their apartments.
Here's a short summary from Amanda and Mari Carl:
The mothers learned to cook rosemary roasted potatoes, stir-fry, lentils & rice with veggies, kale and tomato salad, and collard taco wraps. The cooking classes were a great way for us to connect with moms and their children and learn what vegetables they truly enjoyed.
The older kids helped chop and stir-fry veggies. Most of them were skeptics of our veggie creations, but by the end of each cooking class, they were willing to try a sample of each dish. Their favorite was definitely the rosemary roasted potatoes! We found that some of the mothers didn't know how to cook certain vegetables, and they were enthusiastic about the cooking class and the chance to try new recipes. After each cooking class, most of them tried recreating the dishes we cooked in class and reported great success! The program was such a hit that the mothers have asked if we will come back to teach them other recipes even though our main vegetable growing season is done for the summer. True Success!
Cokesbury Garden in Margate: A very successful First Year!
The Fruitful Field's Cokesbury garden has been put to rest for the summer, covered in mulch to encourage healthy microbial activity and keep the weeds down. We are already planning for next season. Over the course of the year Eric Gibian and Bridgett Vega-Gibian took a patch of gravelly turf by a canal and turned it into a productive garden producing over 500 lbs in its first season despite almost constant attacks by Iguanas during one of the key grow times. Of this amount well over half, 291 lbs, was donated to the Food Pantry of Cokesbury United Methodist, a major plus for a community with many food needs!
Next year Cokesbury will become an independent garden run directly from the Margate property. The Fruitful Field will continue to provide logistical and technical support as needed. We are very proud of successfully incubating this new garden that may provide years of great food in Margate.
If your church or non-profit is interested in making a difference through creative large scale gardening get in contact with us, we'd love to consult!
Summer Prep for a Busy Fall!
Summer in South Florida is hot & humid! Way too hot for most vegetables but it's not too hot for a lot of things:
1) Fruit for one thing:
Watermelon are planted and our fruit trees are flowering and fruiting with Bananas, Barbados and Surinam Cherries, Guavas, Mangoes, Key Limes, and Sugar cane (not a fruit but sweet!)
2) Soil Prep
: Even the best of soil in South Florida is only 2 or 3 steps away from becoming coarse sand. Constant enrichment with dried and decaying plant material make sure organic gardening can really happen. We've pulled up irrigation lines for the season and are stacking in the mulch to compost!