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Holiday Gifts Available!

Posted by on Dec 5, 2016 in Fundraiser, Slider | 0 comments

Holiday Gifts Available!

We have some wonderful items available for sale, just in time for the holiday season. All proceeds benefit our programs! We will have them at this Sunday’s citrus tasting event. You can also order and pick up in Gainesville by emailing Melissa: melissa@foragefarm.org.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Botanical prints of some of our favorite crops in our Southern Heritage Seed Collective. Hand drawn and colored by Miami artist (family friend), Leo Hernandez. $25 for 11×14″, $15 for 4×6″, and a set of  6 notecards (two prints each) for $18.

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Flour sack dish towels, two designs available reflecting our north Florida seasons: fall/winter and spring/summer. Art by Melissa DeSa. $10 each

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Forage pint glasses, with a shape that we really love! Only $5

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Some other odds and ends:

  • Seed packets with new art design. Packed heavier than our typical packets. $4 each.
  • Gift certificate for one year of seeds plus two packets, great gift for a gardener!  (note that we will be increasing our seed membership in the coming year, this new price reflects this) $40
  • Luffa sponges both small and large $3-$5.
  • Moksa bar and liquid soaps $6-$12
  • Hand painted and grown at Forage gourds, small and large. $5-$20

 

Citrus Tasting December 11th!

Posted by on Nov 21, 2016 in Education, Events, Featured, Fundraiser, Local Food, Recipes, Slider | 0 comments

Citrus Tasting December 11th!

Come join us for our annual holiday citrus tasting event at First Magnitude Brewery! Each season we offer a delicious line up of seasonal varieties from sour to sweet, so you can sample our region’s great diversity of citrus flavors! Light finger foods featuring citrus will be provided along with a specially paired brew with your ticket. Drawing prizes, live music and more! A lemonade stand run by kids, for kids will also be available!

Buy your tickets ahead of time to make sure you get in! Only $20 and all proceeds benefit Forage!

Here’s a video from our 2015 tasting, look how fun it is!

 

 

 

 

What’s Growing On With Forage?

Posted by on Nov 20, 2016 in Farm Updates, Local Food, School Gardens, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

What’s Growing On With Forage?

We are busy bees round here, and always amazed at the work we can accomplish with such a small organization. Currently, we are a staff of one, with an active board of directors, volunteers, interns and a network of supportive partner organizations. With this help, we’ve been able to do a lot of good work in our community. Here’s a highlight!

Protecting Seed Biodiversity in the Southeast

You may have noticed over the past several years our major re-direction of energy to our seed program, the Southern Heritage Seed Collective. What started 6 years ago as a grassroots response to providing local gardeners with access to affordable and quality seed, has grown into something so much deeper. Simply put, we recognized that crops we like to grow in our climate, our soil, our backyards, are only reliably available to us if we accept the responsibility to save and care for their seeds each year. Indeed, much agricultural biodiversity has been lost when individuals and communities lose control over their seed. Once gone, they are vanished forever; thousands of years of cultural traditions and co-evolution in a regional climate GONE. With that seed planted (pun intended), we were on a mission to make our seed program a hub that promoted southern biodiversity, access to quality seeds, and information and education on home seed saving.

We’ve made local, regional and national connections to individuals and organizations dedicated to helping us with this monumental task. It truly takes a village, and many years of steady, focused work to build up a regional network of resistance to global consolidation of our agricultural seeds. Over the years we’ve stewarded over 25 different crops, offering them in our seasonal catalogs for home gardeners, communities and schools to grow.  We are learning and acquiring more varieties all the time as we meet new people and their seeds! Our Southern Heritage Seed Collective has the potential now to have satellite locations throughout Florida, and the obvious concern and interest in this issue is evident as we gather more supporters to help grow our seed community.

Melissa has visited and networked with Seed Savers Exchange for three years now.

Melissa has visited and networked with Seed Savers Exchange for three years now. Having allies with organizations of the same passion is important to our work. 

Garden Collective

For years we’ve been involved in all manners of school, after school, community and home gardening efforts. We often feel like garden consultants, asked all the time for help. We’ve seen gardens thrive and fail, programs come and go, and funding wax and wane. Our response is a program still under development that we’re calling the “Community Supported Garden Collective”.

We’re asking local donors to support long term efforts to keep up ongoing garden education, support and maintenance for gardens around the county. We are particularly interested in garden sites that serve under privileged youth in an after school environment, as well as at GRACE Marketplace, Porters Community Farm and others. We want to avoid the pitfalls of “soft money”, so that gardens can keep growing and thriving. We want to provide ongoing education and support, developing relationships with kids, parents and other educators so that our programming has an impact. We want to provide access to bulk and affordable ingredients that make a garden successful. We want to cultivate a community of healthy eaters that know where food comes from and value a healthy lifestyle.

A new program this year in partnership with the Cultural Arts Coalition, is providing an opportunity for kids to explore science and nature through the garden. We hope to iron out all the details and take this program to other after school settings.

A pilot program with the Cultural Arts Coalition, offering science exploration in the garden is going well! We hope to roll this out at other community centers.

A pilot program with the Cultural Arts Coalition, offering science exploration in the garden is going well! Kids love to get their hands in the dirt and explore freely the natural world, when given the opportunity.

Community Food Center

You may not know this, but for nearly seven years we have been dreaming and planning about building a community food center to serve the Gainesville area. Imagine a place where local economy, community, and food converge to support a more resilient and secure food economy! The center will house a commercial kitchen, cold and dry food storage, warehousing, community event and workshop space, garden space, and will offer logistical, financial, and capacity-building support for farmers and food-based businesses. Plans are still in progress, but it takes a village and a lot of work so it may still be several months before anything is up and running. We cannot wait to share this space with you!

Classes and Workshops

Our educational outreach is one of our main ways of connecting with audiences on a variety of topics related to gardening, seed saving and local food. You’ll often find us at other events and conferences where we’ve been invited to speak. This year we partnered with Santa Fe Community College and taught a Florida vegetable gardening class. Next semester we’ll do three food preservation classes with them! Our classes are designed to be accessible to everyone. If there are fees to cover material costs, we always offer a wavier for those without the financial means.

The local Queens of Fermentation teach a workshop twice a year on making the most of local produce through lactofermentation!

The local Queens of Fermentation teach a workshop twice a year on making the most of local produce through lactofermentation!

Fall and Winter Seeds Available!

Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 in Education, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

Fall and Winter Seeds Available!

If you have missed our seedy events this September but would still like to get some of your seeds for the winter garden (it’s not too late!), please contact Melissa directly to arrange a seed exchange. melissa@foragefarm.org

Read more about our Southern Heritage Seed Collective here.

 

 

Fall Gardening Classes!

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Education, Seed Saving | 0 comments

Fall Gardening Classes!

We’re excited to partner with Santa Fe Community College this year to teach 4 popular gardening classes. Register NOW! The first one starts October 25th. Support us, the community college and learn something while you’re at it!

Plan a veggie garden for Florida HOM0011.1K4
Tuesday October 25th, 6-8PM
Santa Fe Blount Center, DA129 401 NW6th St.
$39 (half to us, half to Santa Fe)

We’ll discuss the elements of planning a spectacular Florida vegetable garden including seasonality, garden location, crop rotation, pest and disease management, and what vegetables, flowers and herbs do well for us.

Kitchen Herb Garden HOM0004.1F6
Tuesday November 1, 6-8PM
Santa Fe CIED Center, DB 120 530 West University Ave.
$39 (half to us, half to Santa Fe)

A home herb garden is indispensable for fresh home cooking!Nothing is better than stepping out of your door to snip some fresh basil or chives. Learn the basics of what herbs grow well in Florida gardens and how to grow them!

Helping Native Pollinators HOM0013.1F1
Tuesday November 8, 6-8PM
Santa Fe Blount Center, DA129 401 NW6th St.
$39 (half to us, half to Santa Fe) + $20 material fee for the pollinator house

About 1 out of every 3 bites you take is courtesy of hard working pollinators! Learn a little bit about the fascinating lives of these creatures, and what you can do at home to help protect them. We’ll make a simple DIY bee house for everyone to take home.

Saving Your Seeds HOM0025.1D2
Tuesday November 15, 6:30-8PM
Santa Fe CIED Center, DB 120 530 West University Ave.
$39 (half to us, half to Santa Fe)

Saving your own seeds isn’t hard and we’ll teach you the basics of how to grow, gather and preserve your own garden seeds. From dill to tomatoes, it’s easy and we’ll let you in on this age old technique!

REGISTER HERE. 

You Can Pickle That! Fermentation Workshop!

Posted by on Oct 7, 2016 in Education, Events, Fundraiser, Local Food | 0 comments

You Can Pickle That! Fermentation Workshop!

Join us for our much anticipated seasonal vegetable fermentation workshop on Saturday November 12, 2016! If you’ve ever wondered about making your own sauerkraut, kimchi and other vegetable ferments, this is the class for you! A little bit of education on why this stuff is so good for you, with a lot of hands on demonstrations where YOU will chop, salt, brine and pack your own tasty ferments!

Be sure to register early, spaces are limited and they fill up fast!

Read more on our event link and registration page here!

Highlights from Our Fall & Winter Catalog

Posted by on Sep 6, 2016 in Education, Farm Updates, Seed Saving | 0 comments

This is really the best time of year to start gardening. Cooler temperatures are nicer to work in and the pests and disease aren’t quite as bad. We have a load of good seeds for you this year (over 52 varieties!), but there are a few we want to highlight because well…they are awesome and we don’t want you to unknowingly pass them up.

Ethiopian Kale (aka Highland Kale) Brassica carinata

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That orange marker is about 3 ft tall, for reference. The plants got even bigger of course as they started flowering. We found they still tasted just fine when flowering.

I had never heard of this until I was down at Echo Farm in south Florida a few years ago. Say what??!! A warm weather brassica that will produce good seed and food here? I got a few packets and grew them out finally this past season. We all really enjoyed them. While technically a mustard, it is more like a kale but milder and richer with more flavor like that of a mustard. It was good in salads or as a cooked green. It really stood up well during our warm winters, and still tasted good when it was flowering.

Interestingly, it’s mostly grown for it’s seed as a fuel! Yeah seriously, check it out. But the varieties they cultivate for this use, will be earlier maturing ones because they want seed and lots of it. Our goal is leaves for food, so we’ll be selecting later bolting as a trait for home gardeners.

Yellow Cabbage Collards Brassica olaraceae

You've seen this picture before maybe. Because I LOVE it. Look at those massive succulent collards!

You’ve seen this picture before maybe in some of our posts online. That’s because I LOVE it. Look at those massive succulent collards!

These rare collards showed up in the 1880’s or thereabouts, so they’ve been around awhile but currently are not widely available….yet!  Also known as the Carolina Cabbage Collard, it differs from it’s collard kin, with thinner leaves, finer veining, a lightly heading form, and more of a yellow tone to its shade of green. It has a silky, tender texture, more akin to spinach than bitter greens. The flavor, is milder and less bitter than regular collard greens. It’s overall difference in flavor and texture to other collards makes it more useful in the kitchen as you don’t have to cook the bejeezus out of it. In fact, we’ve even had it RAW! Raw in a salad. Google a recipe!

Nevada Lettuce Lactuca sativa

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This isn’t my picture…I couldn’t find ours! But yeah…this is what it looks like.

This was one we’d heard of a few years ago, had trouble finding seed, and finally got a packet. We were intrigued because of it’s claim to be slow bolting and good for warmer climates. This is our second year growing it out and we have enough seed to offer you. It is a really good lettuce for us! It has open heads of thick, vibrant green leaves, glossy and beautifully ruffled leaves with crunchy texture and buttery smoothness. Resistant to tip burn, bolting, and downy mildew, plus tolerant of lettuce mosaic virus. It’s not easy to come by this lettuce seed and it would be a shame if we lost it for some reason. So the more people saving seed, the better. ALWAYS save from the best plants particularly those that taste good and are slow to bolt!

Queensland Lettuce Lactuca sativa

Queensland Lettuce

I wish there was a better scale here for reference…but look at the dark green plants to the right, those are tatsoi. If you have a sense for how big tatsoi gets, well look at the Queensland lettuce, it’s so much bigger!

This is an amazing leaf/heading lettuce. I say both because you can cut the whole dang thing like a head lettuce and have a hefty-sized specimen. Or you can cut individual massive leaves off and keep it going. It’s huge, easy growing, slow to bolt in the heat and isn’t bitter. We LOVE it. This is our second year growing them out and we finally have enough seed to offer you. If you have the inclination, this would be a good one to try and save yourself, for the same reasons we mentioned above. Actually more so with this one as no other seed companies are offering it except Echo.

Notice the not-so-hot-looking lettuces to the left? Those are ones we don’t save seed from, and instead take home to eat. We only ever save seed from the plants that perform the best.

There are so many other great things in our catalog this season! All the lettuces except for Black-seeded Simpson were locally grown and we have a liking to all of them. The nice thing about lettuce and seed saving is that’s it’s easy to grow more than one variety because they are unlikely to cross pollinate. Also, we don’t need a lot of plants to save seed from, since they are inbreeding and can self-pollinate without any harm of “inbreeding depression”. A good beginner crop for anyone to try saving seeds from!

We hope you have a wonderful and productive garden season!

The Seeds of September!

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in Events, Seed Saving | 0 comments

The Seeds of September!

The seeds, the seeds, the seeds of September are here!! We are SO excited to share to share another gardening season with you. We’re dreaming of cooler weather, golden sunlight, collards, carrots, beets and other garden treats.

Here in Gainesville, FL where we run our community seed bank, the Southern Heritage Seed Collective we stay busy all year growing, gathering and learning about good seeds for our climate that will do well in your garden! We look for varieties that are vigorous, do well in north Florida, are seasonally appropriate, taste good, and are backed by experience from local growers that have grown them.

As we roll out our seed collection this year, we’ll be highlighting some of the work going on behind the scenes to bring you good seed. From our work with the Farm to School to Work program, our learning trips to other seed farms, the down and dirty seed growing and cleaning at the farm, and many of our connections in the community.

Please note that are packets are designed for the average small to medium sized backyard gardener, so tend to have fewer seeds than your average retail pack. This was done intentionally over the years based on feed back from our members. If you have outgrown this, or would like some packets a little heavier, please fill out this BULK ORDER FORM. We’re trying this out for the first time this year to see if it will help those gardeners looking for a little more. If your order is quite large, consider donating more to help cover the costs.

Want to volunteer at any of our upcoming dispersal events? They are fun and we can always used help on either end setting up and cleaning up, and throughout the event to keep the seeds tidied and well-stocked and interacting with guests, chatting about gardening! Sign up to VOLUNTEER here for your preferred shift!

Below is a list of our upcoming events. Come to one of the seed dispersals that fits your schedule. Mingle awhile with other gardeners, figure out what seeds you want to grow this year and go home with the most valuable thing money can buy: seeds that feed that us! Details for each event can be found on our calendar link to the right! —>

SEED AVAILABILITY LIST (NO DESCRIPTIONS)

SEED CATALOG (FULL DESCRIPTIONS)

 

Seeds of Sept Updated events

 

 

 

Start Your Own Seeds!

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in Education, Slider | 0 comments

Start Your Own Seeds!

It’s not exactly seed-starting time for annual vegetable gardens in Florida. This is the time of year we take our break; the equivalent to northerners cozied up by the fire, with snow drifting outside, a stack of seed catalogs and a warm cup of tea in their laps. Instead we’re inside with the A/C going, waiting for it to cool down enough to go outside and enjoy the hardier plants like gingers, bananas and the like that don’t seem to mind the heat.

This is the time of year we’ve all (hopefully!) thrown in a cover crop or somehow mulched and covered the annual veggie garden to protect it from erosion and weed infestations. Summer is the time to re-group, gather supplies for fall, plan what to grow next season, and finish canning those tomatoes and pickles for the year. Come early September you should be ready to start sowing seeds!

Learning to start your own seeds opens up a whole new world of gardening. You’re no longer limited to the plants available in the stores, and it’s more economical than purchasing plants too. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite addictive. It took me a few years to get the process right through trial and error and asking smarter more experience people how they grow. Everyone comes up with a system that works for them. Here’s ours that we use every year at the farm.

Long version with post-seeding advice:

First off, a general rule of thumb here. Legumes (beans, peas) and roots (carrots, beets, radishes, turnips etc) can be directly sown into the garden soil. No need to start them in a pot and transfer to the garden later. They don’t like it and they don’t do well. That’s why you typically don’t see these for sale as plants. Everything else will be fine as a starter, even though you can direct sow nearly everything. We find there’s more control with starting seedlings in trays or pots and will typically do it unless we don’t have enough room in our greenhouse. We ALWAYS do it for valuable plants because they are safer in our little pots than in the ground!

1. Start with your flats, cells, pots or whatever you plan to use. We use plastic liners with 72 holes in them. This size produces good sized little seedlings that can be planted straight into the garden, or up-potted if necessary. 36 might be a better size for home gardeners. These flats can be found online at most major big greenhouse store suppliers like Greenhouse Megastore. Any pots will do so long as there is drainage. You don’t want to start too big though, no gallon pots here! We re-use ours over and over and over again until they fall apart and we toss in the recycle bin.

2. Fill the trays with a germinating mix. Our favorite so far that is locally available is Fafard’s Superfine Germinating Mix. It’s important to have a fine mix that the seeds can easily grow through and a sterilized one so new seedlings don’t succumb to disease.

3. Very lightly moisten the soil with a watering wand or can. Do not drench, just a nice soft watering.

4. Depending on seed size, make a small depression in each cell with your fingers. Tiny seeds like broccoli just need a soft little depression while large seeds like nasturtiums would need a hole about 1/2″ or more. Rule of thumb: don’t bury a seed any deeper than it’s diameter.

5. In each cell, add one seed. Maybe more than one if you think your germination rate is lower because you have old seed or didn’t keep good care of it. Shame on you! Protect those seeds better! 

6. Lightly add a layer of the germinating mix. More if the seeds are large in order to bury them, and barely a coating if they are tiny.

7. We use a bottom watering method which works wonderfully but takes a bit of finesse to get used to. So we take a fitted tray with NO HOLES and fill it about 1/4″ full of water and set the flat inside. We check it daily to make sure there is some water in there. You don’t want the flat swimming or drenched, just a nice layer of water to wick up into the soil. This allows us to avoid overhead watering which is favorable for disease conditions.

8. Check the water daily, you might need to start adding more frequently, as the plants grow and require more water.

9. As soon as true leaves appear, you’ll want to consider a weekly dose of organic fertilizer like fish emulsion or any organic granular fertilizer. Be sure to read the instructions and not add too much! Worm castings are great and it’s impossible to use too much.

Seed leaves are the first green structures that emerge from the seed and provide the plant with it's energy. As they are used up, true leaves appear. These are the leaves that look like the plant you are expecting! Photo courtesy of garden.org

Seed leaves are the first green structures that emerge from the seed and provide the plant with it’s energy. As they are used up, true leaves appear. These are the leaves that look like the plant you are expecting! Photo courtesy of garden.org

10. Keep in a very well-lit area with good air flow. Seedlings will need at least 8 -10 hours of sun if not more.

When are they ready?? After true leaves develop and plants begin to get robust (anywhere between 2-4 weeks depending on plant type and the cell size you used), lightly tug at the base of the stem and squeeze the cell to see if the plant pops out with soil and roots intact. If it does you’re probably good to go. If it doesn’t easily want to come up or you feel like you’ll be breaking it, then wait longer.

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The outer most oblong leaves are the seed leaves, the more frilly leaves we recognize as our beloved cosmos tell us it’s time to start fertilizing. Photo credit: Brianne Ambrose.

 

Saving Wildflower Seeds

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in Education, Seed Saving | 0 comments

We are lucky to have a good relationship with Terry Zinn over at the Florida Wildflower Cooperative. He’s a wealth of knowledge when it comes to growing and saving seeds from our native wildflower plants.

Gaillardia pulchella (Blanketflower) seed heads in the field at Forage

Gaillardia pulchella (Blanketflower) seed heads in the field at Forage.

He also happens to have a fancy seed cleaning machine that I visit and borrow a couple of times a year. When I visited a few days ago to clean up our seeds, I was there while they were harvesting, drying and bagging up massive amounts of Bahia grass seed. It was fun to watch the process and I got to help a little bit.

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Bags of wildflower and grass seed mostly goes to DOT and other large buyers. Home owners can buy this too around town where the seed packets are sold.

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A big honkin pile of Bahia grass seed drying and waiting to be bagged.

 

The hopper dumps all the collected seed from the field into a pile where it will be winnowed then dried and bagged.

The hopper dumps all the collected seed from the field into a pile where it will be winnowed then dried and bagged.

This is a lot of work to grow, harvest, dry, bag and distribute wildflower seed. Every time you see a field or roadside full of native blooms, thank all the growers that are part of this cooperative! Here is a link to learn more about the cooperative. If you have a large open and sunny pasture, you might consider growing seed for them. Buying a license plate helps support their programs too!

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