Category: News

Verde Farm & Market Adds Kitchen to Program Helping Former Homeless

by Janis Fontaine An unusual remedy to our nation’s “food desert” problem – getting fresh fruits and vegetables to distressed neighborhoods – is being tested in a pilot program in Homestead. The 50 acres that house a working farm, farmers market, and new kitchen used to be part of Homestead Air Force Base. Verde Community Farm & Market with its new cafe, called Verde Kitchen, and juice bar opened in June. Much of the food served in the cafe is grown on the 22-acre farm and harvested by employees who are residents of Verde Gardens, the adjacent community. Verde Gardens is a 145-unit residence for formerly homeless families. It was developed in 2011 by Carrfour Supportive Housing, a nonprofit developer, in partnership with the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. The innovative project, which provides housing for homeless families who have a disabled family member, also offers support services and opportunities for its residents so they can become self-sufficient. Open-air farmers market The project’s state-of-the-art market is a 5,000-square-foot open-air structure with 25-foot ceilings and huge doors overhead rolling doors. “They originally thought farmers would drive their trucks in there and sell produce – like farmers have time for that,” quips Bill Squire, Verde Market’s operations manager. Instead, the market will buy produce from local farms and sell it, using only residents of the Verde Gardens community to work at the market....

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Anna Maria Fish Company Leads the Way in Bottarga Revolution in Cortez Florida

Ed Chiles and Seth Cripe are leading a bottarga revolution in Cortez, Fla., one of the only remaining fishing villages on Florida’s gulf coast. Cortez is located on Sarasota Bay in Manatee County and is a big exporter of grey mullet roe, which is processed into bottarga, to countries such as China, Taiwan, Italy, France and Japan, among others. Florida exports more than 1 million pounds of mullet roe a year, some of which will be sold back for as much as ten times the price. “Our goal is to produce all of the mullet roe in Florida, whether we produce it or someone else does,” Cripe says. “And, to promote the fisherman lifestyle. It’s really personal to me.” Chiles and Cripe are cofounders of the Anna Maria Fish Company, which in its first year produced 500 pounds of bottarga. Bottarga is the the dried, pressed roe of the mullet, which is sold in blocks and shaved over pasta dishes, for example. Now, the company produces between 8,000 pounds and 9,000 pounds of bottarga. Cripe, who was born and raised in Cortez, moved to Napa Valley when he was 17 and founded Napa-based Lola wines. He started producing bottarga in 2007 and created the Anna Maria Fish Company in 2011. “Mullet and mullet roe was always part of growing up, but people didn’t really eat mullet or care where...

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La Camerona Fish Joint & Seafood Market the Product of Cuban Family Fishermen

  Pan con minuta, a fresh fish sandwich that is a common street food in Cuba, is the star of the menu served daily at La Camaronera Fish Joint and Seafood Market, a spot tucked away off Flagler Street in Miami’s Little Havana. The sandwich, which features flash-fried snapper, raw onions and a secret red sauce on a Cuban bun – is a favorite, according to Yelpers and restaurant owners. Fried shrimp, seafood and rice, and empanadas are among other specialties. Owner Dave Garcia, of Garcia Brothers Seafood Inc., said most of the seafood, including mahi-mahi, snapper, stone crabs and lobster, is locally sourced. “We have guys who fish for us, but most of our fish comes from the Florida Keys,” Garcia said. The family business started back in Las Villas, Cuba. The 11 Garcia brothers were born into a family of fisherman that caught, processed, and sold their fish. “We had a cart where we sold pan con minuta and black-eyed pea fritters in Cuba near the market,” Garcia said. The brothers started their business in the U.S. as a fresh fish market, processing plant and wholesaler in Miami. La Camaronera opened in 1973 as a fish market, and in 1976, they added deep fryers and U-shaped counters and began serving their seafood. The restaurant serves lunch Sunday through Thursday, and lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday. Take-out...

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New USDA Honeybee Survey Shows Bee Die-offs Continue to be Concerning

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual honeybee survey and the results reveal that bees may be in even more trouble than previously thought. For the first time since USDA and its partners, the Bee Informed Partnership and the Apiary Inspectors of America, began tracking bee die-offs five years ago, “the summer loss rates exceeded the winter loss rates, suggesting bees are becoming vulnerable during a time of the year they were thought to be healthy and robust.” Tennille Tracy, The Wall Street Journal. While 2014-2015 winter losses showed a slight decrease, summer losses increased nearly 40% over 2013-2014 levels, “resulting in higher overall annual losses of managed bee colonies.” Kim Kaplan, USDA. Total annual losses across the U.S. averaged 42.1%, up from 34.2% the previous year. Losses can stem from a variety of causes, including varroa mites, stress, and exposure to systemic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Growing concern over the impact of neonicotinoids on bees has prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop approving outdoor use of neonicotinoids until further studies on bee health and pollinator risk are conducted. Despite the growing number of beehives in Florida, our honeybee population is at risk. According to the honeybee survey, beekeepers in Florida suffered an annual loss of 54.8%. This is among the highest loss rates in the U.S. for the time period. However, the...

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