Fall & Winter Seed Dispersal Dates!

Posted by on Jul 26, 2016 in Events, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

Fall & Winter Seed Dispersal Dates!

Oh man it’s so hot this summer, the cooler gardening weather seems so far away! But we are busy preparing for it; bulk buying some good seeds, and cleaning up the ones we grew last fall to put into this year’s seed collection. The catalog is a few weeks away, but mark your calendars for our upcoming dispersal dates.

Saturday September 10th Haile Farmers Market 8:30am-12pm

Tuesday September 13th Gainesville Garden Club 4:30-7:30pm

Wednesday September 14th Union Street Farmers Market 4:00-7pm

Saturday September 17th Matheson History Museum 10am-1pm

We are planning another Old Timey Seed Swap at Morningside Nature Center, sometime in October. Stay tuned!

Learn more about our Southern Heritage Seed Collective and how to join, read more here.

What’s Growing on at the Farm?

Posted by on Jun 22, 2016 in Education, Farm Updates, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

What’s Growing on at the Farm?

This spring and summer has been a typical growing season filled with hopes, surprises and lots of frustrations. Bad news first. Nutsedge! Oh my word, this is by far the worst thing to happen at the farm. Worse than fire ant bites, armadillo holes, deer damage or an irrigation leak. If you till or hand weed but don’t get all the nutlets out, it laughs an evil laugh at your pathetic attempt to get rid of it, then sends up even more aggressive sedges, eventually making a LAWN.  The standard treatment is pretty much chemicals but of course we’re looking for alternatives, so we’re doing some leg work to figure a good approach to tackling this beast. It might mean that the farm has to rest from seed production for awhile as we figure out how to knock back this crazy aggressive weed. One website I read said there is one foolproof way to get rid of it. “First, dig out every tiny piece of the plant including the seeds and nutlets. Make sure you sift the soil through a mesh screen. Dump the collected material on the driveway and burn it. Sweep up all the ashes and seal in a concrete box. Drive to the coast and dump the sealed box 20 miles off shore.”

The evil nutsedge encroaches.

The evil nutsedge encroaches.

The good news is others things are actually growing where they’re not being out-competed by nutsedge! This year we were excited to help Seed Savers Exchange with their MGEN program (Member Grower Evaluation Network). They want to see how their crops do outside of their Iowan climate, and depend on growers across the country to help them gather the data. It’s like a citizen science project for crops! They often have seeds in their collection that aren’t really the best for their climate (i.e. okra, sorghum, cowpeas) and hope to collect information about their performance outside Iowa. We’re trying a couple sorghums, Hill Country Okra and Tom Watson Watermelon.

We’re also growing seed for the first time as a contract grower for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. We’re growing Bettersnap Cowpea. It’s an exciting variety that promises root knot nematode and disease resistance. As far as eat-ability, the pod is edible and can be used much like a snap bean. You can also fresh or dry shell them. We love cowpeas because they grow so well in the hot summer days here. If you’re interested in the details you can read a paper about it here.

Tomatoes this year are doing really well, especially compared to last year’s dismal harvest.  We grew several just for home canning and to share with friends like Sungold and New Girl to name just a couple. Three varieties that stand out as good seed savers are blueberry cherry, Everglades currant and “Linda’s wild cherry”.

Blueberry plants were given to us by our friend Bricky who runs the historic garden at Morningside Nature Center. It’s a beautiful cherry tomato that starts off intensely blue, then turns reddish orange as it ripens leaving some patches of blue behind. It’s gorgeous! It’s also very productive and tasty. Cherry tomatoes are usually a good pick here in Florida, so we have a new favorite.

These little gems are so pretty!!

These little gems are so pretty!!

Everglades currant will be the second generation saved at Forage. You really can’t go wrong with them, prolific hardy plants are sprawling in nature (no staking necessary!) and bear loads of tasty but small tomatoes.


These little bugger are tasty and productive. They don’t seem to mind our awful summer weather.

Linda’s Wild Cherry is the name I’ve given this tomato that is growing “wild” and free at Linda Duever’s place out in Shiloh near Micanopy. Some cherry tomato she planted years ago has taken to popping up all around her property with minimal care or prodding. That’s my kind of plant! So of course I stuffed a few fruits in my pocket to save seeds, and we now have a few of these plants at the farm and one at the Farm to School to Work Hub garden in Mr. Reidways’ box.

We’re growing an interesting corn from Zev at Earthaven Farm in Black Mountain, NC. I met Zev at the Florida Earthskills Gathering a couple years ago and inherited these seeds, along with a signed contract that I’d grow them out and send back to continue the sharing and evolving of the line! Anyhow, the corn is new variety that happened accidentally in his Milpa garden 5 years ago when a Peruvian “Maize Morado” and a regional dent corn there called “Cherokee White Eagle” got hitched. Corn is known to be a promiscuous species and typically have to be grown miles apart from other varities to ensure pure seed.

The Maize Morado corn is boiled or soaked in water to extract the purple anthocynanins and the liquid is then used as the base for a delicious drink called Chicha Morado which includes cinnamon sticks, pineapple rinds, sugar, and other fruits and maybe even a little booze if you desire. He tells me that it’s really delicious and chock full of life-giving purple pigment medicine. The unique thing about this cross is that after the whole corn kernels are boiled for the drink the kernels can be cooked a little longer with the addition of some mineral lime or sifted hardwood ashes to make nixtamal/hominy, which is then used to make masa for tortillas/tamales etc.  I have specific instructions on which corns to select for in order to keep this new cross in check and improve it. It’s really pretty! Below is a picture of one I harvested early because I knew it wasn’t the type we were looking for and I was dying to see it and try the Chicha Morado!

This is beautiful! But it isn't the one to save for seed. We're looking for deep purple kernels with a dent in them. Also from sturdy plants with red striping.

This is beautiful! But it isn’t the one to save for seed. We’re looking for deep purple kernels with a dent in them. Also from sturdy plants with red striping.

We are also growing the Dudley Farm Dent corn again this year. It is traditionally planted here in the south on June 6, when the summer rains are known to have already started or will be soon. True to the gospel, we planted on June 6 and 7th and it rained really well a couple days later after having been an incredibly dry spring. Since this variety was planted so much later than the corn above, we have no concerns whatsoever of them crossing.

Huxley guards the corn from invaders.

Huxley guards the corn from invaders.

Luffas and bottle gourds are taking off again creating a gourd tunnel like last year. Many of these were volunteers from last years fallen fruit.

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) made it’s way to our fields this year finally. I am so in love with this flower because of it’s extreme pollinator attraction. It’s always alive with insects of all sorts visiting the neon orange flowers. The only thing better it seems is basil which we also have. We hope to save enough seeds to offer in our spring collection next year. This will depend on how wet the summer is.

How we all love thee; the birds and bees and me!

How we all love thee; the birds and bees and me!

For the second season we’re growing Gift Zinnia, a tall red zinnia that seems unusually resistant to what we affectionately call the “zinnia funk”: a slew of bacterial and fungal infections that seem to plague all zinnias eventually. Last year may have just been an anomaly but it grew for a really long season with out any detectable disease. This year it looks just as good, but we’ve selected out some less healthy plants to help save seed from only the most sturdy ones. Zinnias are another good plant for pollinators.

This is an excellent, productive and hardy pollinator plant.

This is an excellent, productive and hardy pollinator plant.

We did not plant horsemint (Monarda punctata) this year but the birds did! They seem to have brought into the farm field from our surrounding native wildflowers and meadows. It’s evident that birds did the planting because its mostly growing along trellises in the garden where they perched and pooped! Thanks birds! We and the bees thank you for your service of spreading seeds with a little fertilizer! Our garden is a organization freak’s nightmare because we let volunteer plants pop up nearly wherever they want to, rarely weeding them out unless they’re a problem.

This is a wonderful native flower that takes care of self quite well and is LOVED by pollinators of all shapes, sizes and colors!

This is a wonderful native flower that takes care of self quite well and is LOVED by pollinators of all shapes, sizes and colors!

We have a couple interesting peppers as well, Balik, Jimmy Nardello, Carolina Wonder, Charleston Belle and King of the North. They’re all doing pretty well but will do even better when we finally get some shade erected over them. Peppers are not interested in living in a baking hot sun all day. About 30% shade is good.

Last but not least we are proud parents of the famous Bradford Watermelon! If you haven’t heard about it, you should read more here. A true Southern heirloom and reputed as the sweetest watermelon ever grown! Ever?! We’ll see! We have some plumping up now. Maybe it really is amazing, because the deer have breached our fence, nibbled the leaves and also made some dents in the unripened fruit! I rigged up something around the fruits and we’ll see if it works. The story goes that Bradford melon farmers went to great lengths to keep intruders out of their fields that were stealing them. I wonder if that applied to animals too! We had local news coverage about seed saving and discussed the watermelon a bit. Check it out!

Deer nibbles!

Deer nibbles!

Once this summer season wraps up we’ll be doing some design modifications to the garden space, reinforcing our predator barriers and tackling nutsedge. One step at a time….









Collard Green Coleslaw

Posted by on May 1, 2016 in Events, Local Food, Recipes, Slider | 0 comments

Collard Green Coleslaw

This delicious way to prepare collard greens is perfect for hot summer days, graduation potlucks, and so much more.

What you’ll need:

  • ½ lb. collard greens, tough stems removed (8 leaves)
  • 3 medium carrots, grated (2 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, grated (1 cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
  • ½ cup rice or cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. powdered mustard
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper


    Stack 3 or 4 collard leaves flat on work surface. Roll tightly into a cylinder, hold together, and thinly slice to make narrow strips. Coarsely chop strips once sliced. Repeat with remaining collard leaves, and transfer to large bowl. Stir in carrots, onion, and bell pepper.

    Whisk together vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard, celery seed, salt, and pepper in small saucepan, and bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, and pour hot vinegar mixture over collards and vegetable mixture. Stir to coat vegetables with dressing. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and chill 4 hours or overnight.

**Note: The hot dressing poured over this salad slightly wilts the greens without cooking them. Chilling the salad lets the flavors develop. Serve as a side dish, or use instead of lettuce to top vegetarian barbecue. Other greens to try in this recipe: Swiss chard, beet greens, or flat-leafed kale.

Recipe adapted from

Lambsquarters: The Deliciously Edible Weed

Posted by on Apr 13, 2016 in Education, Local Food, Recipes, Slider | 0 comments

Lambsquarters: The Deliciously Edible Weed

Lambsquarters, often known to many by various monikers including pigweed and muck hill weed, is the so-called “weed” that just seems to pop up around our garden plots this time of year. Though they get less respect than they used to (in fact, many seed companies don’t even sell these seeds anymore), they contain more iron and protein than raw cabbage or spinach, more calcium and vitamin B1 than raw cabbage, and more vitamin B2 than cabbage or spinach. The Southern Heritage Seed Collective spring/summer collection featured lambsquarters for our members to grow and, for our non-growers, Siembra Farm has been selling it at the farmers markets! Here’s a scrumptious way to feature this delicious green and give it the respect it deserves.

Easy Greens and Cheese (A Take on Saag Paneer)

Recipe by: Andi Houston,

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach
  • 1 bunch of bathua/Quelites/lambsquarters
  • 12 oz queso fresco or paneer
  • 1 large red onion, sliced or chopped
  • 1 tbl butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2″ fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tbl ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or other chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 tbl cream, raw if you can get it


**The combination of greens should total about 1 1/2 pounds**

    Wash the greens thoroughly. Put the dripping wet kale in a large pot with a lid and turn on medium. Add 1/4 c of water. As soon as you see steam collecting on the lid, turn the heat down to medium-low. Steam the kale until the stems are tender. Then add the other greens and steam until wilted and tender but still green. Remove from heat and set aside.

    Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until the onions start to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are well browned and the garlic and ginger are golden. Add the cumin and turmeric and continue to cook until the entire mixture is sizzling and smells cooked.Scrape the onion-spice mixture into a large blender. Blend for a few seconds- enough to get it all chopped up.

    Add half the greens and puree the mixture until it is thoroughly blended (very smooth). Pour the blended mixture back into the frying pan and set over medium-low heat. Then puree the remainder of the greens until smooth, adding water 1 tbs at a time if necessary. The puree should be thick like stew, not thin like soup. Add the remainder of the pureed greens to the frying pan and bring to a simmer. Stir and let everything simmer together for a few minutes.



    Cut the queso fresco/paneer into cubes and add to the simmering greens puree. Let everything simmer together, stirring regularly, until the cheese is hot all the way through- about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Add a tablespoon of cream just before serving. Serve this with rice or flatbread, or if you’re grain-free it’s really great over a baked sweet potato.

Lucky’s Market Benefit Day for Forage

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Events, Fundraiser | 0 comments

Lucky’s Market Benefit Day for Forage

After getting all of your produce at the farmers market on Wednesday, be sure to head over to Lucky’s on Thursday to get your dry goods, proteins, vitamins, and much more! 10% of the day’s sales will go to Forage toward funding a new fridge and storage unit for our seed library. This is a great way to show your support for us and still get the every day items you need!

Fresh off the Farm Recipes

Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 in Local Food, Recipes | 0 comments

Fresh off the Farm Recipes

Greens: nature’s candy! They are packed with so many vitamins and nutrients, we can’t even begin to list them without taking up this whole page. If you’re already a fan of kale and arugula or just beginning to realize the delicious ways that you can incorporate them into your diet, we think these recipes are a huge hit. Rethink the way you use the greens in your kitchen and try these out!

Fruity Kale Smoothie


1-2 cups of kale (any variety), cleaned and de-stemmed

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 very ripe banana

Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)

Coconut flakes

*Optional: honey for a bit more sweetness

Directions: Blend milk and de-stemmed kale together until smooth. Add banana, coconut flakes, and pineapple chunks then blend until desired consistency. Add ice and blend. Enjoy!

Note: Depending on the kale, it can have an overpowering bitter taste. To cut this bitterness, use fruits like bananas, strawberries, and blueberries. This is a great way to hide the “green” taste and add natural sugars.


Zesty Arugula Pesto

Recipe by: Michelle Reeves, The Fat Tuscan


3 to 4 cups washed arugula

1 cup roasted nuts such as pecans or walnuts

4 cloves of fresh garlic

1/4 cup golden raisins

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Directions: Blend in food processor garlic first, add nuts and raisins. Add arugula and slowly drizzle in olive oil until nice emulsion. Add salt and pepper to your tastes and lemon juice to preserve nice green color. Store in air tight containers in freezer. Bring to room temp and toss with your favorite pasta.

*Optional – add roasted tomatoes and whole nuts and raisens as garnish. This is a vegan recipe. Add Parmesan as garnish for non-vegan variation!


Join us at the Union Street Farmer’s Market and Haile Farmer’s Market once a month to taste a new recipe featuring what’s growing now! Support your local farmers and ask them how they like to prepare their veggies. It’s a great way to try something new and enjoy what’s in season.

What’s Growing On at the Farm?

Posted by on Apr 3, 2016 in Education, Farm Updates, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

What’s Growing On at the Farm?

It’s been awhile since we posted an update on what we’ve been up to at the farm this past fall/winter season. We’ve grown some really interesting crops that we’re excited about offering to our fellow gardeners through our seed collective. But being a seed grower and having a one acre space as a play ground for our experiments gets tricky! We end up with things we need to keep in the ground a long time to save seed, and have to work around them by hand and not with a tractor that would make quick work of prepping a new bed. We have to remove some plants prematurely so they don’t cross-pollinate with others in the field that we intend to save. We end up in a situation like we are now, holding onto old lettuces and brassicas that are making seed still, while needing space for our spring stuff like tomatoes, peppers, beans, okra and squashes! We’re figuring it out and it’s kind of fun but it does get challenging. Here are some crop highlights.

Queensland Lettuce

We picked up a seed packet a few years ago from Echo down in south Florida. This beautiful and enormous leaf-type lettuce has done well for us for three growing seasons now, and we’re in the process of saving seeds from it now. It’s definitely a southern-adapted lettuce with extreme resistance to bolting. We seeded them in early October and they’re only now making seeds. Other lettuces we grew were bolting in December, because it was so warm. It also never seems bitter till in the flowering stage.

Queensland Lettuce

Queensland lettuce growing for seed on the left. The small less impressive ones get eaten early on, saving the large fabulous ones for seed!

Hon Tsai Purple Flowering Broccoli

We picked up a packet of these from High Mowing Organic Seeds because it looked so cool! A sweet and mild mustardy thing with purple veins and pretty little edible flower shoots! It did exceptional, we loved the flavor and were pleasantly surprised at the entire edibility of the plant from the leaves to the flowers. We saved seed, but kind of screwed up because Broccoli raab was flowering too, they are both. Brassica rapa…and so they may have mixed up. Seed saver FAIL! But we’ll try again for real another season because we think this has promise for our area.

Hon Tsai

Hon Tsai with it’s pretty little purple stalks and pretty little yellow flowers. Nom, nom!

Yellow Cabbage Collards

We couldn’t resist growing this new-to-us variety that we saw in the catalog of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. A rare southern heirloom variety and something different than the same old collard varieties we always have. Well this beauty is enormous! I mean, look at it! The leaves are more tender and they’re sweeter. But the real treat is that it’s started flowering now! We rarely see collards flower and go to seed this far south. We’ll have to tell Ira from Southern Exposure because they are working on a collards project and are curious about the varieties that flower. Maybe the weird weather this year triggered it?

Yellow Cabbage Collards

These collards are huuuuuge! And yummy!

Ethiopian Kale

This is not the same species as our familiar kales (B.oleracea), but is a B.carinata. A more tropical adapted variety that still has cold tolerance as well, and is useful because it goes to seed in tropical climates. It didn’t freeze back during our few cold spells here this winter, and is currently in the seed stage now. We really liked the way it looked, and it had a mild collard-mustardy kind flavor but with a tender leaf that could be eaten raw or cooked. Interestingly it is also grown specifically for it’s seed which is used as an oil. We loved it and hope to have enough seeds to share with y’all next season!

Ethiopian Kale

Ethiopian kale was a lovely new surprise, tasty, easy to grow and a brassica that goes to seed in our climate!

Myers Family Mustard

These seeds came from Seed Savers Exchange, having been a family heirloom from Mississippi. We grew several mustards this year: Red Giant, Southern Giant Curled and some Chinese mustards like Tatsoi, Hon Tsai, Pak Choy. All of them except Hon Tsai and Myers got an early infestation of the dreaded Mustard beetle. Red Giant, Tatsoi and Pak Choy really got nailed. Myers was the latest mustard to bolt and is now a gorgeous sea of flowers and pollinators. We loved the leaf shape that was unique from other mustards we’d grown, longer and more serrated, and the flavor was milder too, but still had a good mustard punch. We’re definitely saving seeds from these! We also grew another mustard later in the year, getting plants in the ground about February, called Osaka Purple. It too succumbed to the dang beetle. This mustard was sent to us by Seed Savers Exchange through their MGEN program (Member Grower Evaluation Network), that gathers information from around the globe about how their crops do outside of the Iowan climate zone. Thus far it’s a thumbs down, but all gardeners know that one season isn’t enough to decide. We would like to try it again next fall, since mustards generally do well here.

Myers Mustard Flowers

Flowering brassicas are a sight to behold! I’m pretty sure that every pollinator in the area comes to feast. If you stand still for just a moment, you notice the thousands of little insects visiting flowers, ensuring that we get seeds!

A few other odds and ends are seeding now we hope, Winter Density Lettuce, Grandpa Admires Lettuce, and a couple interesting ones recommended to us by David Shields, author of Southern Provisions: Key Lime Lettuce and Hanson Improved Lettuce. Although we have to say….Hanson Improved had terrible germination rates. Maybe from those we actually got to grow we’ve selected the strong ones, Hanson-not so improved! So far we like them for their appearance and flavor. Since they were planted as a spring lettuce, we’ll see how they hold up in our warm spring!



Spicy Orange Mustard Greens

Posted by on Mar 9, 2016 in Featured, Recipes, Slider | 0 comments

Spicy Orange Mustard Greens

This slightly spicy orange dish celebrates one of our favorite greens of the season: Mustard greens! For a complete meal, serve over or tossed with noodles. This recipe serves two!


  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbs. oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade or jam
  • 4 cups greens (any)


Sauté two or three cloves minced garlic in 3 tablespoons oil. Pour water, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes into a skillet. Turn heat to high and saute until the ginger is fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in marmalade and then add chopped greens. Reduce heat to medium and using tongs, turn greens into the sauce. This will help cook the greens down; stop when your greens are bright green and have softened. Serve.

Chef’s Note: Cooked broccoli florets may be substituted for the greens. Toss cooked broccoli with the sauce once it’s been warmed and serve.

This recipe was adapted by Kelli Brew from a recipe found on Forks Over Knives. Visit their website here.

Registration Open: Fermentation Workshop

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 in Education, Events, Featured | 0 comments

Registration Open: Fermentation Workshop

Come learn from our incredible Queens of Fermentation, the secrets and tricks to making your delicious vegetable ferments: kraut, kimchi and more! Come with veggies, share a local abundance provided, and go home with bubbling goodies. RSVP is required and a small fee to cover expenses. For more info, contact Melissa:

Click here to register now!


Join us for a hands-on workshop as we teach you about the benefits of and techniques to prepare your own lacto-fermented vegetables at home! Learn how to make kimchi, sauerkraut, sauerruben, kvass and more. There are infinite possibilities with the right ingredients and techniques. This is a great way to preserve fall and winter local bounty from farms and your own garden. 

Live demonstrations and tastings by our knowledgeable “Queens of Ferment”, are accompanied with your own chopping, salting and fermenting to take home just in time for Thanksgiving. We’ll guide you through the right techniques to get a perfect ferment every time. 

IMG_9739Because this is a hands-on workshop and we intend for you all to make several ferments in class, we ask that you bring as much of your own stuff as possible. Please plan to head out to the farmers market, Wards or Citizen’s Co-op to pick up most of what you will need in class. Below is a list of items to consider, followed by some FAQs. It’s OK if you don’t have everything, we always bring extra produce and utensils, and everyone tends to share their extra stuff with others.

If you end up having to cancel please let us know ASAP so we can let someone on the waiting list in. This class is very popular!


Supplies to bring:

  • 1-2 cabbage heads, having both red and green is nice (this one is a MUST please bring at least one cabbage head!)

  • assortment of any veggies that strike your fancy such as:

    • Carrots, beets, onions, garlic, ginger, daikon and other radishes, horseradish, turnips, rutabagas, celery, kohlrabi, leeks, okra, beans, eggplant, chard, fennel, peppers, squash, green tomatoes, watermelon rind, lemons, mustard greens (not a lot), cauliflower, hard winter squashes (i.e. butternut, calabaza, seminole pumpkin), turmeric, and probably more.  Also some fruits like apples can be used – explore and experiment! Ask us if you’re not sure.

  • Herbs fresh or dried, any kind will do so bring what you like or what you have on hand. Some common ones are dill (fresh and seed), caraway seed, celery seed, hot pepper flakes.

  • sea salt, celtic salt, real salt (NO refined salt)

  • muddlers or pounders  (not necessary but nice)

  • 4 or more large quart sized jars or larger with tight fitting lids (wide mouth preferable but not necessary, plastic lids are best, but not necessary)

  • large mixing bowl, bigger is better!

  • mandolin slicer, grater and/or large sharp knife

  • cutting board

  • canning funnel (not necessary but nice)

  • apron



1. Can I ferment greens?

Although our answer is usually “Sure, why not, you can ferment nearly everything!”, it doesn’t really apply to some winter greens unfortunately. Kale, collards and broccoli for example don’t hold their texture well in a ferment, and may produce some very strong smelling ferments. So if you’re looking for a way to preserve all those abundant greens from your garden or CSA, fermenting probably isn’t it. You can add some to a mixture of traditionally fermented veggies but don’t plan on using a lot.

2. How much vegetable stuff should I bring?

Most people go home with 2-4 large mason jars of ferments. So if you bring yourself one or two heads of cabbage (red and green is a nice mix), a small bunch or two of root veggies you like and some herbs and spices you’ll be fine. Don’t forget we’ll have extra stuff as well to supplement your recipes and people tend to share with one another. There has never been a shortage. If you have an abundance of something, bring it to share!

3. Is it OK to buy non-organic?

We highly recommend using organic vegetables whenever possible, but understand if you can’t have all organic. There tends to be less pesticide residue, and if grown in good soil will ferment much better. Fresh, local veggies ferment WAY better (trust us!), are not as dried out as grocery store veggies and have lots of naturally occurring microbes on the surface to properly start your ferment process. Get to the farmers market, Ward’s or the Co-op and you’ll have plenty of options for the freshest organic produce around!

4. What kind of salt should I bring and how much?

No refined salt, only good quality sea salt, coarseness does not matter. Wards and the Co-op often have it in bulk. If you brought a small pint sized mason jar full that would be plenty. We’re very liberal with salt in fermenting, so if you’re going to continue fermenting at home it doesn’t hurt to have more on hand. Again, we’ll have salt if you forget, or need more.

5. Should I wash and pre-prep my veggies?

NO! While you don’t want outright dirty veggies like carrots straight from the earth, the naturally occurring organisms on the veggies actually help with the fermentation process. Don’t start chopping or scrubbing your veggies just yet, we’ll guide you through the process and have plenty of time to do it in class. The only exception is if you want to ferment a hard squash like butternut or Seminole pumpkin in which case you could save time by peeling it. Just don’t start chopping yet!

6. Are regular mouth sized jars OK and do I need tight lids?

Wide mouth is best but regular is OK. The tight lids are mostly just to get you home without making a mess in your car, as you’ll loosen the lids at home when they settle. Once the ferments are done and you refrigerate them, its good to have a proper fitting lid. Plastic lids are best, the metal ones rust in the presence of salt water. You can find canning jars at Wards, Big Lots, WalMart, the Feed Store, Ace Hardware and probably many more places. Call first if you’re not sure.

7. Should I sanitize my jars?

Not necessary, just make sure they are squeeky clean.

8. If I can’t bring all my own equipment is that OK?

Yes, we’ll have extra equipment and there tends to be a lot of sharing of veggies, herbs and tools. If you have extra stuff to share feel free to bring it. Try to be as self-sufficient as possible, but if you forget to bring something you’ll be OK!

9. Is there a cost to attend?

Yes, just a small sliding scale donation of $25-35 is requested to help us cover our costs of facility rental, speaker stipends and supplies. If you cannot afford it, please let us know as we have some funds available through the Grow Gainesville “Everybody Grows” fund!

Organic and Fair Farming Practices in Gainesville, FL

Posted by on Feb 23, 2016 in Education, Local Food | 0 comments

Organic and Fair Farming Practices in Gainesville, FL

Imagine an agricultural system where everyone working is treated with respect and paid a living wage. This is rare in most American fields where deplorable working conditions continue and family farmers, trying to uphold principles of stewardship for land and people, are experiencing the increasing consolidation of power and market share in the hands of a few corporate food businesses.

Locally one farmer is trying to change the system through Organic and Food Justice Certifications. To Jordan Brown the purpose of farming sustainably was not only to ensure that environmental stewardship is met through organic practices, but that human decency is upheld to the highest degree.


Jordan Brown, The Family Garden, Gainesville, FL

He has been farming for 8 years on his 25-acre farmland in Bell. His farm, The Family Garden, has recently relocated to Gainesville on 20-acres in the southeast of town where they are growing their first season of fresh veggies, while maintaining their fruit production on the property in Bell. The Familly Garden has staked their commitment to social justice by meeting the gold standards for domestic fair trade through Food Justice Certification. Jordan’s produce is 100% Organic and 100% Food Justice Certified through third party verification programs.

When purchasing Food Justice Certified products you can support a healthy food system that includes:

  • Rigorous standards for respectful treatment of farm employees
  • Fair pricing for farmers
  • Fair and equitable contracts for farmers and buyers
  • Clear conflict resolution policies for all throughout the food chain
  • A ban on full-time child labor together with full protection for children on farms
  • Living wages for employees
  • Safe working conditions
  • Commitment to continual improvement
  • Environmental stewardship through organic certification

unnamed-2The Agricultural Justice Project aims to bridge the gap between environmental stewardship of the land to include stewardship of the people who work the land and bring the food to our tables. Food Justice Certified is unique as it is the only third party verification program to cover U.S. farmworkers and farmers, as well as other food system workers working in distribution centers, grocers, manufacturing – all links of the supply chain from farm to table. Standards and the verification process for the Food Justice Certified label were stakeholder developed and included farmers and farmworker representatives in a consensus-style governance structure. It is a collaborative program that recognizes that improving conditions for farmworkers in the U.S. needs to include improving the terms farmers receive in selling goods.

Sign up for Jordan’s CSA to support a Fair and sustainable agricultural system.

For further information about the Agricultural Justice Project or the Food Justice Certification, visit or email us at


**This piece was written by Chelsie Papiez of the Agricultural Justice Project. Forage is proud to support their efforts and the farmers that seek for a more just agricultural system.