Category: Featured

Homesteading Meet-Up Group Takes Root in Treasure Coast

Rosemary Caspary keeps bees, raises shiitake mushrooms, creates mosaics and stained glass to decorate her kitchen, grows her own vegetables and herbs, experiments with permaculture, makes her own soap, and generally enjoys working in her house and garden. “I’ve always wanted to be an artist, and from a young age, I repurposed things and was into plants,” she says of her childhood in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She also learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, and remembers making dandelion wine in the spring. But her father wanted her to do something more practical with her life. “That’s why I became a dietitian,” she says. “I thought the term ‘Homesteaders’ was appropriate because it can refer to whatever you are doing in your home, or just outside in your yard.” Now that she’s retired and living in Stuart, she’s focused on the cooking, gardening, and artwork that she’s always loved. Being relatively new to the area, she hoped to find like-minded people willing share their home-centered passions, talents, and do-it-yourself skills. That was her impetus for starting the Treasure Coast Homesteaders meet-up group. “I thought the term ‘Homesteaders’ was appropriate because it can refer to whatever you are doing in your home, or just outside in your yard,” she says. “That way, it includes so many different activities and doesn’t limit you to rare fruits or herbs or butterflies,” she...

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New Treasure Coast Kitchen Incubator Promises to Help Food Entrepreneurs

Ben DeVries is building an enormous incubator – the size of a commercial kitchen. It will be around 10,000 square feet, but it’s not meant for reincarnating dinosaur eggs. Rather, this one will be built for what’s growing in the 21st century: agricultural and food production-related businesses. And it will be stocked with the catalysts needed to birth new enterprises that could give Florida’s economy a big boost. It’s known as the Sunshine Kitchen Food Business Incubator and will be built in Fort Pierce, where DeVries, CEO of the Treasure Coast Education and Research Development Authority (RDA), is based. Years in planning He’s sought for years to finance and build a licensed commercial kitchen with professional equipment coupled with a research lab designed to help entrepreneurs create food-production ventures. This spring, the RDA accepted an $895,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, along with a St. Lucie County match of $896,735 to help make it a reality. A request for $2 million from the state has not yet been fulfilled, but whether that comes, DeVries has enough to get started. He estimates that it will take six months to get the project out to bid for design work and hire a construction contractor. “We hope to have construction starting in the second or third quarter of next year, and then hopefully it’ll take maybe another year before it’s...

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Florida Food Summit at U of F, Sept. 18-20, Focused on Small Farmers

  With the locavore movement driving steady growth in the agricultural, culinary, and ecotourism economies all over the state, there’s no better time to have a broad conversation about how all these producers can collaborate. That’s the idea behind the second Florida Local Food Summit, happening this weekend in Gainesville. One of the event organizers is Mary Hathaway, farmer education coordinator for Florida Organic Growers (FOG), a statewide organization based in Gainesville that is among the three original sponsors of last year’s event. “This is our second annual FLFS; last year it was in Orlando at the East End Market,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of growing momentum for sustainable, clean food. And Florida’s one of the states where not only growers but also people that are real active in food policy, or just very interested consumers, or those in the sustainable agricultural industry, could come together and meet for a more connected food system in Florida.” Seminars, farm tours, meals The schedule for this two-day event brims with seminars, lectures, and hands-on workshops, with a fair amount of informal mixing also planned. The summit officially kicks off Friday, Sept. 18, at 5 p.m.with a local-food potluck dinner and gathering at First Magnitude Brewery. Farm visits are available for early arrivals Friday, from 9:30 to 3 p.m., with three available tours: a Forage Farm hosting a demonstration...

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Flavor Palm Beach and Miami Spice: Chance to Check Out a New Restaurant

September is the quiet month in restaurants in South Florida, a land poised for a new social and tourist season that doesn’t start till around Halloween. Lucky for us residents, smart marketers got together back in 2008 to create deals where diners get a three-course meal or special menu for a fixed price at a number of restaurants, while charities benefit at the same time. FLAVOR PALM BEACH In Palm Beach County, the program is known as Flavor Palm Beach. This year, 52 restaurants throughout the county are offering special menus and pricings ($20 lunches, $30-$35 dinners) that in most cases deeply discount their regular checks. The plan is to introduce diners to new restaurants and menus, with the hope they’ll be repeat customers during season. Restaurants range from hotel favorites such as The Breakers Italian Restaurant, and Angle at Eau Palm Beach, to popular steak spots like Ironwood Steak & Seafood in PGA National, Morton’s, and the Capital Grille. New restaurants like Hudson at Waterway East in Delray, and old favorites like buccan and Maison Carlos are represented. From Palm Beach’s Cafe Boulud to Boca’s Pavilion Grille – the county is peppered with places to try. MIAMI SPICE The program is called Miami Spice in Miami-Dade County, and its now in its 14th year. Theirs is a two-month affair, from August  through September. Nearly 200 restaurants participate in...

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FFF on the Road: Fireside Restaurant in Hendersonville Displays Five Farming Methods

Gary Crist was pulling the seeds off a spent cilantro plant when we found him outside his restaurant, Fireside Restaurant and Pancake Inn. He explained he was preparing his garden, which abuts the restaurant, for next season, putting up seeds from herbs and tomatoes that are beginning to bolt. In little more than the length of the house-like building that is the main restaurant, he shows off the garden and explains that it’s a teaching exhibit with the benefits of supplying some fresh food for the restaurant. “Eventually, I want to grow everything for the restaurant,” he said. “I’m a beekeeper, and I want to get some free-range chickens. We have a farm, too, nearby, along with the greenhouses.”   The garden next to the restaurant is meant to explain five farming techniques, he said. He started it only last year, but it’s a hit with customers, and already produced a bounty of cherry tomatoes, salad greens, squash and beans, several varieties of herbs, fennel bulbs with greens that he juices – even horseradish that someone gave him to try. “Here’s the bale method,” he said, pointing out tomatoes and beans growing from the centers of bales of straw. “You don’t use hay- use straw,” he said. The bales are first heat-treated by dousing with nitrogen and soaking them to kill the harmful organisms; the plants with soil are...

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Continuing a Family Tradition, Distiller Brings Florida Flavors to Miami Club Rum

Although the Magic City’s history includes tales of pirates and rum-runners, Miami never had its own distillery – until now. “We’re the first distillery in the history of Miami, and the only one,” says Matt Malone, proprietor of Miami Club Rum. A platinum rum of his own recipe was the first libation he began selling to the public, in 2013. The liquor won a Gold Medal for World’s Best White Rum at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits  Competition. “That’s the Academy Awards for our industry, so it was huge,” he says. He’s on to another rum already: “I have añejo aging in barrels right now, which we will produce in very limited release this holiday season.” Local sourcing is important. “We use molasses and sugar cane from South Florida. We also use oils and extracts from fruits grown here. I use a dropper to flavor 200 liters at a time with citrus and a couple of other fruits native to Florida, so the rum literally tastes like Florida,” he explains. His wife, Joan, represents the fifth generation of rum distillers in Puerto Rico; her family made Ron Kaneka from 1911 until the ’90s. Her grandfather’s story, which Malone learned at the man’s funeral 10years ago, inspired him to start Miami Club Rum. He also bought the family label and original recipes and will revisit them, but Malone’s current priority...

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A Sneak Peek of Our Spring 2015 Issue

Ever wonder about beekeeping? It’s a growing interest for both commercial and backyard hobbyists as the importance of bees becomes a global concern. Florida, one of the leading honey-producing states in the U.S., is seeing a large growth in production – even as citrus greening hurts the apiarists. Worm farming, known as vermiculture, also is growing. A new worm farm in Indiantown is run by a restaurateur who hopes to change the way restaurants deal with food and paper waste from their kitchens. These farm stories, along with our favorite local product picks, a trip to a popular fruit...

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Inaugural Issue of Florida Food & Farm Now on Stands

Florida Food & Farm is now available in print! Chock full of information, the magazine debuted Jan. 26, 2015 in numerous Publix and Whole Foods markets, at green and farmers markets, produce markets, farms and shops around South Florida. “Our magazine will be a tool for sourcing local food that is healthy for families and individuals  — and a boost for the local economy,” said Daphne Weaver, CEO and new farm owner. With a circulation of 100,000, the quarterly, free magazine serves readers in most of Southeast and South Central Florida, from Sebastian around Lake Okeechobee to the Keys....

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