Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's 2nd Annunal Food and Garden Festival was bigger and better than last year! Urban Oasis Project was there to give gardening advice and perform outreach. Many people know about us now, and our fantastic volunteers make it all possible. Many Urban Oasis Project t-shirts were spotted around the festival...
Come see us at Edible Garden Festival at Fairchild in October 2010!
Edible Garden festival was a HUGE success! Thanks for coming!
Danny Ackell of South Beach Victory Garden gave an amazing demo; he is preparing follow-up info.
Meanwhile, click here for similar info he gave us on our Miami Food Garden Tour in July.
On Saturday, November 28, 2009, we carpooled across the beautiful scenery of the Everglades to ECHO in North Ft. Myers and visited Worden Farm in Punta Gorda afterward. It was AMAZING!!! We went with Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm and this season's WWOOFERS who are helping her on her organic farm.
as well as proven local vegetable varieties.
Our famous monthly potluck for December was a special holiday treat, at Bee Heaven Farm for the annual Farm Day, in the Redlands, Miami-Dade County's historic agricultural district. Great fun was had by all! Cesar was the firemaster, keeping a roaring tropical hardwood fire going all day, for an endless supply of glowing embers upon which delicious corn was roasted on the cob. Zucchini halves, sliced lengthwise, were grilled to creamy perfection and dunked in cantankerous chef Robert Barnum's special bagna cauda. Melissa helped with the farm stand, selling local, organic veggies and fruits, and taking an occasional sip of the delicious tropical fruit wines made by Robert Barnum. There was lots of antidesma wine to go around, as well as food! Local, organic food like (Redland farm raised) smoked tilapia and avocado canapes, a big pot of yummy collard greens accented with Piper betel leaf, avocado and tomato salad, lemongrass tea, cake with cas guava icing, so much more! Diana brought her mom, so did Bill, Scott brought American beautyberry jelly (mmm), Cindy and Richard enjoyed walking the farm. It was 55 degrees out, and plenty cold for us tropical folks! Yuhfen and David brought ratatouille and remarked how they had not yet lost their cold resistance from their former Illinois home. Ian and some of the FIU Garden Club students rode their bikes to the farm, about 15 miles! We froze at 55 degrees with layers and scarves. Glad we had that fire... Speaking of fire, after most people left, we watched the "Art Loves Farms" young artists experiment with glass sake bottles which they turned into expressions of art and fire. Marian Wertalka documented it and will post the experience to her blog, Redland Rambles.
Farm Day at Bee Heaven Farm
Come to the country- fun for the whole family!
Sunday, December 20th
11:30am - 3:30pm
Visit our certified organic, genuine family farm.
Hay rides, make your own scarecrow, meet your farmers and fellow CSA members, bring a dish to share,
bring the kids, bring your friends, enjoy live entertainment, sample dishes made using local ingredients,
farm stand sales of seasonal produce, dried fruit& rubs,
raw farm honey, herbs, heirloom tomato plants
your $10 donation will help support our internship program
as well as our 'Art Loves Farms' young artists
Our monthly potluck and meeting was November 14, 2009 at the home of someone who has been gardening organically for 40 years, and teaches organic gardening, Joyce DiBenedetto-Colton. This is a photo of her garden! We had a special bonus Taiwanese dumpling making class taught by Yuhfen Lin and David Brookes who taught us how to make the dumpling wrapper as well as the filling. Yum! Thanks to all of them.
Approximately 30 people attended, with lots of new faces, and yummy food, much of it homegrown. Joyce explained some of her gardening techniques, showed different soil amendments, her compost pile, and her worms! Thanks again Joyce!
Urban Oasis Project members attended the premiere of A Chemical Reaction , a film about the dangers of chemical lawn maintenance, on November 6th, on Miami Beach.
Organic cuisine was served, and filmmakers Brett Plymale and Paul Tukey were there, and they share our vision of no chemical pesticides in home lawns. Paul Tukey commented,
"You should be be really concerned about lawn chemicals here in South Florida, where the water table is just a few feet below the surface. You put it on the lawn today, and you
drink it tomorrow."
In Hudson, Quebec, a town ordinance banning lawn chemicals was passed. Chemlawn sued them in Canada's Supreme Court, and the townspeople won!
Since then, many others have followed. See what a small group of committed citizens can do: movie trailer and official website here.
Melissa Contreras was a guest on Topical Curremts on October 20th, at 1:00 pm, 91.3 FM. Archived show will be available www.wlrnradio.org
Urban Oasis Project volunteers gave information, demonstrated how to make a raised-bed garden from cinder blocks, and so much more at Edible Garden Festival (and Scarecrow Contest).
Thank you for listening to our local NPR station, WLRN, 91.3 FM. On Oct. 20, 2009, I was a guest on Topical Currents. Other guest was Sam van Leer of www.urban-paradise.org. Please see below and explore the rest of our website. If you have questions, or would like me to post more info, please click on "Contact Us" under "Navigation" on the left of this page.
I mentioned 2 books highlighting methods for closer planting distances to grow more food in a small space:
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew: Makes planting easy, especially good for beginners. Fringe benefits include teaching real world math skills to kids. A Simple system that adapts to all levels of experience, physical ability, and geographical location. Grow all you want and need in only 20% of the space of a conventional row garden.
Save time, water, work and money!
How to Grow more Vegetables* by John Jeavons: Great system, especially made for helping people feed themselves. Bonus: available in many languages. In my house, we have native speakers of 2 languages, so this is something we can share. GROW BIOINTENSIVE Sustainable Mini-Farming approach is low-cost and non-polluting. It maximizes agricultural yields, builds soil fertility, and minimizes inputs of water, energy, and nutrients in organic fertilizer form. Ecology Action has demonstrated results in helping communities in the U.S. and worldwide to grow plentiful and nutritious food without depleting precious natural resources, and by using sophisticated, yet low-technology approaches to farming and marketing. Ecology Action’s work is centered at its Common Ground Research and Demonstration Garden/Mini-Farm located in Willits in northern California. The site was chosen due to its difficult growing conditions, including poor soil quality and hilly terrain, to best demonstrate the effectiveness of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE approach and its adaptability to diverse climates and cultures. The garden serves as one of the oldest, long-term sustainable agriculture research projects in the world. Both are good, I use both. Click on the links above to go to their websites to order books and get lots of free info as well. Just remember that the rules are different here in South Florida. Our climate is unique, our "soil" is often rock or sand. Don't try to grow asparagus, walnuts, or other trees or perennials which are not suited to our climate. DO grow annual vegetables, nearly all do well here from October through April. DO grow tropical fruits and perennials suited to Zone 10. Visit this page for South Florida specific info.
About what kinds of soil to use in your garden:
There a many ways of doing things, experiment, adapt, find what works best for you. Soil or planting media options:
On WLRN, I mentioned using "Organic Compost" as a soil or planting medium in your raised-bed vegetable garden. This is sold in approximately 40-lb. bags at garden and home store retailers. (Like the big orange one.) Because I think it is better for people to start now than to wait for perfection, I recommend this easily purchased option, which retails for around $1.50 per bag. NOTE: We have just discovered that some bags of this compost are not fully finished, which mean that the compost will utilize any nitrogen in the mix to continue breaking down. This will cause a nitrogen deficiency (yellow older leaves and poor growth) in some plants. Solution: mix in some slow-release, high nitrogen fertilizer. This comes in organic form as blood meal, cottonseed meal, grass clippings, alfalfa pellets (bunny food). If you decide to use commercial fertilizer, make sure it is in "slow release" form, like Osmocote, Dynamite, or others. Never use water-soluble powders like the blue Miracle Gro solution. This leaches out of the soil immediately, and into the water table. Not good.
A few words about compost: Ideally, you would make your own compost, and I hope you are doing that. I make my own, but I use it for a soil amendment because I just can't make enough of it! Some municipalities have free compost, like the City of Miami, and if it is available (check first, they do run out), and you can get a truck to go get it, and have shovels to put it in your vehicle, by all means use it. (Art puts a tarp down in the back of a RAV 4 and shovels it in.)
I called the company that makes the "Organic Compost" mentioned above, and asked where it comes from. They said it is composted cow manure from small to medium-sized farms in Georgia. Yes, it has a carbon footprint, but a not-so-big one. It also does not come from 20,000 animal CAFOs in the Midwest, which have more problems than a large carbon footprint.