Bug Hunt

This gallery contains 14 photos.

Insects are everywhere in the garden, but, as our GrowCity Youth discovered on Saturday morning’s Bug Hunt, that’s not all bad news. Some are beneficial, acting as natural predators to our less-favored garden pests (like that very pretty cabbage looper that wants to eat all of the broccoli). Others help with pollination. We are especially fond of our garden spiders, which set up webs in among the tomato plants and catch stinkbugs. As it turns out, our GrowCity Youth are pretty good bug hunters, too! Continue reading

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A big Thank You to our Volunteers!

While summer is officially over and school has begun here in South Florida, here at the garden the early September subtropical heat is still brutal. Our nursery is filling up with seedlings; we’re preparing our fields for new plants, and the new season is beginning! We’d like to take a few minutes, though, to thank all the hard work by our GrowCity Youth, our adult interns, and our garden volunteers throughout the spring and summer.

Even throughout much of the summer heat, our adult interns came out to keep our garden growing. Alta weeded the mint patch and prepared the herb garden for its summer covering of mulch. Dom trimmed back the tall grasses and weeds to make our garden paths visible and helped Pepe clear and plant a new banana circle. Wis divided and relocated clumps of lemongrass. Pepe and Pilar watered our fruit trees and our few summer crops — eggplants, okra, a few habaneros, sweet potatoes, seminole pumpkins, and our herbs.  

Our Volunteers are Amazing 
The garden would not exist without our amazing volunteers. Our 2018-2019 season adult interns (Alta, Dom, Kyshali, Will, Wis, and Sunny) spent six hours each week with us throughout the season, providing much of the labor needed to plant, grow, and harvest the garden, while learning about growing veggies, greens, and herbs in the challenging conditions of South Florida. We also thank those who came out to weed with us, water seedlings and baby transplants, move mulch, engineer and troubleshoot our aquaponics area, and those who spread the word about the garden within our community. (If you’d like to join us as a volunteer or adult intern, please contact Tracy or Chris.)

We’d especially like to thank five groups who came out for Saturday summer work days over the past few months, making a huge difference:

• Adults, children, and CSA folks joined our GrowCity Youth for a morning of lopper, bow saw, and machete work eliminating exotic invasive on the garden property — and discovering all kinds of interesting insects along the way.

• Florida House alumni (pictured above) brought a large group out to the garden to cut down brush and pull invasive vines out of the trees along the edge of the garden.

• Volunteers from Christ Church in Pompano’s On Mission Together program weeded and cleared the GrowCity Youth field, pulling spent crops, weeds, and expanding the garden area to add more space for growing greens and veggies next season. 

• Our May Saturday workday group prepared a field, added drip-tape irrigation, moved many, many wheelbarrows of mulch, and planted a field of seminole pumpkins. 

• Our June Saturday workday volunteers made amazing progress in the start of an entirely new field area. They pulled and dug weeds taller than they were, trimmed back brush and invasive vines, and created a beautiful new space for our fall planting of tomatoes. We celebrated by enjoying TFF summer fruits together — bananas, mangos, figs, june plums, and the very first fruits from our cashews!

Come out and join us Saturday, September 21, for our first Volunteer Workday of the new 2019-2020 season at the Fruitful Field (9 a.m. to noon).

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Spring Thing — Come Out This Saturday, March 16, to Celebrate Spring

Our vegetable season may be nearing an end, but we have many reasons to celebrate. We’re holding an open house at the Garden, 9:30-noon Saturday, March 16. Come see how the garden greets spring and meet our GrowCity Youth, beekeepers, adult interns, garden volunteers, and more. GrowCity Youth interns will be providing tours of the garden and demonstrating their public speaking skills at different points throughout the morning. We are planning a bug hunt for kids around 9:45 and a bee demonstration around 10:45. Enjoy coffee, garden lemongrass tea, learn to make “mock-tails” featuring garden ingredients, and enjoy hammer dulcimer music. Our own honey, greens, and maybe some other local treats will be available for purchase. You can also plan to stay for lunch — members of Parkway United Methodist Church will be cooking a fresh fish lunch incorporating some our garden produce, available for purchase immediately following the garden event. We look forward to seeing you! 

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Our Garden is Growing — Shares Reservations for 2018-2019 Season are Now Open

We’ve been working hard in the fields and we’re excited to see green beans, arugula, mizuna, eggplants, zucchini, and other heat-tolerant greens growing nicely in our wide rows. The sprouts of our first french breakfast radishes and little sweet white salad turnips have popped up out of the ground in the past few days. And with the help of our hardworking adult interns, we transplanted more than 250 tomato seedlings from our nursery to the garden. Each week we transplant more and more into the garden — we’re getting ready for you!

We invite you to reserve your garden share for our 2018-2019 season now, so that you can start picking up a weekly share of our fresh, local, nutritious, and tasty vegetables, greens, and herbs starting the beginning of November.

Like last year, choose from three Buy/Give share options:
• Garden Share (vegetables, greens, and herbs)
• Leafy Greens Shares (leafy greens only, plus culinary herbs)
• Large/Family Share (larger variety of vegetables, greens, and herbs)

See more details and options here: Garden Shares

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What Our Farmer Did This Summer

In addition to weeding, mulching (and sweating) through the hot South Florida summer days, we have spent much of the past month researching ways to increase production in our current space. The goal is two-fold: To serve more of the people who want to join our CSA program and to donate more Fruitful Field fresh and nutritious greens and vegetables through community food pantries and soup kitchens.

The end of July, I attended the annual conference put on by Florida Organic growers in Gainesville. Sessions focused on soil health and detailed the findings of UF researchers on a variety of cover crops and no-till systems here in Florida. Other sessions focused on incorporating permaculture practices on production farms, produce food safety, and weed control for organic farms. Lots of great information and even more reinforcement that cultivating healthy plants is all about developing healthy soil.

While visiting Beth and Flavio at their new home in the mountains of North Carolina, we toured four small farms in the Hendersonville and Asheville areas. Every farm and farmer we visited offered new ideas, new crops to try, and new methods of growing.

Flavio, Tracy, and Paul in Holly Spring’s late-season tomato rows, Mills River, N.C.

At Holly Spring Farm near Hendersonville, Paul Shoemaker and his wife Simone took time out from harvesting and preparing that afternoon’s restaurant orders to show us their tomatoes. Paul is definitely a specialist in heirloom tomatoes, their cultivation, and their diseases. (We enjoyed a salad of watermelon and Holly Spring heirloom tomatoes that evening at Sierra Nevada Brewery.) He shared a few new varieties he thought we should try growing this season (which we will!). Not to mention an ingenious and inexpensive way to use shorter stakes as the tomatoes grow tall.

Jessica with her green-house Sakura tomatoes (and Tracy), Asheville, N.C.

We also want to thank Jessica Spiegel of the strictly organic Terra Lingua Growers, who showed us around the two greenhouses where she grows incredibly lush tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, arugula, and other crops for her farm market sales. The Asheville area offers some interesting opportunities for growers, like these leased greenhouses that had once been part of a large flower-growing operation. After that business went bankrupt, the greenhouses have been revitalized to house a variety of small, local, sustainably-focused business including growers like Jessica, woodworkers, and light manufacturing. Jessica recommended another tomato variety that we’ll try this season in South Florida.

Harvest at Veterans Healing Farm, Hendersonville, N.C., for donation directly to veterans at the VA center

At the Veterans Healing Farm, John Mahshie and Justin, his farm manager, showed us the tools and facilities they use to serve veterans from across the country. This garden is unique in donating the vegetables, fruits, and flower bouquets they grow to veterans and their caregivers free of charge. We really admired the new building that will allow the organization to house and teach veterans from all over the country at no charge, including an upcoming beekeeping class. This farm also places a great emphasis on creating a beautiful, healing environment for veterans and local volunteers to work in together — a real inspiration!

Tracy and Susan in front of the tall corn at The Lord’s Acre in Fairview, N.C.

We also enjoyed seeing Susan Sides again, from The Lord’s Acre, another “garden that gives” that is focused on volunteers who grow a wide range of organic produce for donation. In addition to showing us what they grow, Susan shared many of the communication methods and tools that the Lord’s Acre uses to communicate garden tasks for volunteers and staff, together with all the information needed to complete them. The garden is a lovely balance between vegetable production, flowers, herbs, and teaching/demonstration, including a vibrant children’s program called “Sprouts.”

Together, they’ve given us so many new ideas and inspirations to continue to grow the Fruitful Field. We appreciate their generosity in sharing their time and knowledge. As Susan noted, “We all learn from each other.”

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Month of March– Part 1: Spring Thing

On March 10th the garden opened its gates and with GrowCity youth as their tour guides visitors were lead through our garden fields to see what’s growing and taste the splendors of springtime in South Florida.

In addition the Broward Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics gave food demos with all kinds of garden veggies dipped in easy nutritious dips.


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