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.
Youth 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.
Another exciting garden program we’ve been involved in from the very beginning is the Alachua County Farm to School to Work Hub. This unique program offers high school-aged students with special needs important vocational and life skills training in the agricultural and food service world. Here, students learn about the food system by experiencing it directly! We maintain a “seed garden” (our own little garden plot where we grow out crops for seed) with their help, offering garden education and accessible accommodations for students of all abilities to participate. Each gardening season, students help us clean up seeds from the field and package them for our Southern Heritage Seed Collective. We plan to continue our partnership with them as they continue to develop additional adult vocational programs and employment opportunities.
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.
We are starting a new tradition, and hope you will join us for our first annual Forage Local Food Awards! We will be celebrating those that have demonstrated a deep commitment to our local food system.
This year’s theme is Community Organizing and Fair Farming. Come dine with us as we toast to Faith Carr and Jordan Brown!
This fundraiser will benefit the programs of Forage, allowing us to continue serving our food community.
Tickets are $75 each, and will include a scrumptious southern-inspired meal by Fables Catering & Such, and craft beer pairings.
Click the image below to buy your tickets!
GROW THE BEST TOMATOES IN THE SOUTH, Y’ALL!
It’s not easy to grow tomatoes in the south. Our humidity, heat, pest and disease pressure can wreak havoc in the garden. Join us for a fun three-hour workshop that will expose you to all the secrets we know about successfully growing tomatoes in the south! From seed starting to seed saving, we’ll do it all!
-How to start from your own seeds
-Basic maintenance and care (i.e. trellising techniques, suckering, pruning)
-Breeding your own varieties!
When: Sunday March 12 from 10am to 1pm
Where: Tim’s Place 10003 SW 77th Ct. Gainesville FL 32608
Cost: Sliding scale $15-25 (with some “Grow Gainesville Everybody Grows Scholarships” available to those who need them, just ask!)
In addition to all the tantalizing tomato tips you will learn in class, you will go home with a detailed handout, plant tags, and some mycorrhizae (we’ll tell you all about that!). Tomato seedlings will also be for sale. So bring cash, check or your credit card!
Light refreshments and snacks will be provided. Feel free to bring your own as we will be together for the lunch hour!
SPACES ARE LIMITED AND PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.
We have changed some of our membership donation levels this year to better cover the costs of running our organization. If you are accessing our seed collection, we kindly ask that you consider donating $20 per season or $40 per year.
For many years we kept our base membership level at a very low annual fee, which was mostly used by folks interested in accessing our seed collection. As our organization has grown, simply put we have more costs to cover. We can’t drive our van to farms and gardens hauling supplies and dried seeds to be cleaned, cover the insurance in case someone is hurt, have a small office, and all the supplies needed, if we only ask for $25 a year. That barely covers the cost of the seeds, envelopes and labels.
Donations at a higher level help us to grow our seed gardens, support youth garden program development and keep the lights on and gas tank full.
We have always held the philosophy that EVERYBODY GROWS. So, in partnership with the Grow Gainesville group, we will continue to subsidize the cost of seeds for anyone that simply cannot afford it. Please don’t be shy to ask if you need a lower donation cost or a free waiver for the year!
With the average gardener taking home between 10-25 packets each season, valued at $2 each that is about $20-50 just for a season. Or $40-100 for the year. So at a minimum donation request of $40 per year, you are still getting a good deal, while helping us a bit more to keep in the black.
If you have already paid previously, this will go into effect whenever you are due to renew, not this season immediately.
Thank you for your understanding!
Mark your calendars for dates and times for our upcoming spring and summer seed dispersals! Please note only summer/spring seeds are available at upcoming dispersals. If you would like any cool season fall/winter seeds in the meantime, email Melissa (email@example.com) to set up a time to meet at the office to pick up.
Support Forage by shopping at Lucky’s today! Shop all day and 10% of sales benefit Forage. From 11am-2pm we will be sampling some tasty locally-inspired goodies. Stop by and say hi!
We are so lucky (pun intended) for this opportunity, that Lucky’s has givenus for a third time now! Their support has helped fund our seed collective and gardening programs. Help us make the donation go further by stocking up on essentials!
February is a wonderful time to celebrate the bounty provided by our local farmers and the land! We’ve been celebrating Local Food Week for years now, offering you ideas for connecting to your local food community. Once food week is over, don’t stop celebrating! Continue connecting with farmers, organizations and restaurants that work day in and day out to make our food community better.
LOCAL FOOD WEEK EVENTS
Florida Earthskills Gathering
Wednesday February 8th through Sunday February 12
Join us at Earthskills for a special SEED SWAP on Sunday February 12th from 1:30-3:30PM
Cinema Verde International Environmental Film and Arts Festival
Located at the Hippodrome State Theater, there will be a wide selection of environmental films to view. February 11 there will be a selection of shorts related to agriculture.
Dine Local Today!
Tuesday February, 14
With so many restaurants in town featuring local food, there are plenty of options for those wanting to support local. Here are a few suggestions from last year’s list.
Southern Heritage Seed Collective Spring Seed Dispersal #2 of 5
Wednesday February 15, 4:00-7PM at the downtown Union Street Farmers Market
If you’re a gardener or know someone who is, join the seed collective! Get good seeds for southern gardens and support Forage’s efforts to protect seed biodiversity!
Shop at the downtown Union Street Farmers Market
Wednesday February 15, 4:00-7:00PM
Tune in for TV 20’s “What’s Growing On?” Weekly Local Food News
Thursday February 16, 2017 at 5:45 PM (you can always catch them later online)
We Challenge you to Cook Local at Home!
Perhaps you’ve shopped at one of the local farmers markets this past week, so get in the kitchen and work some magic. For inspiration, check out Hogtown HomeGrown’s seasonal recipes
OTHER LOCAL FOOD EVENTS IN FEBRUARY
Swallowtail Farm to Table Dinner featuring Cassie Lycan
Saturday February 11, 4:30-10:00
Grow Gainesville’s Third Monday Meeting
Monday February 20, 7:00-9:00PM
Each month, the gardening community gathers to learn about a range of homesteading topics. This month is a special Southern Heritage Seed Collective Spring Seed Dispersal, #3 of 5
Southern Heritage Seed Collective Spring Seed Dispersal #4 of 5
Saturday February 25, 8:30AM-12:00PM at the Haile Farmers Market
Seed Cabinet and Seed Saving 101 Roadshow!
Tuesday February 28, 6:30-8:30PM at the High Springs Branch Public Library
Don’t miss our ongoing roadshow of an interactive seed cabinet that will be visiting each Alachua County Library Branch over the next several months. See our calendar for all dates and times.
|As 2016 nears an end, and we reflect on the ever growing community support for our work, we are truly humbled and grateful! For five years, Forage has been working hard to protect southeastern seed biodiversity, and providing quality programs that benefit growers and eaters of all ages. The many hours of hard work come with dirty hands, frustrations, rewards and joy.
2016 has been a significant transition year for us, as we continue to learn how to focus and effectively accomplish our mission-driven work. We’ve become known in the seed world as the only grass-roots organization truly aware and active in Florida. As we grow, so do partnerships and community building efforts that are helping protect our shared cultural biodiversity of seed.
Reluctantly but with good intention this summer, we decided to rest the farm in cover crop for a couple of seasons due to limited resources and significant infrastructure repair. Fortunate as we are, our community came together, allowing continued growth and progress even without a farm! Individuals and organizations stepped up, providing seedlings, garden space, many hours of time in their garden, equipment repair, and financial and emotional support because they believe in the mission. Meanwhile, our workshops, classes, and planning for a community food center are humming right along. This is how community works, folks! It truly takes a village to accomplish this work, and we couldn’t do it without y’all!
If you would like to read more about what we do, check out our recent blog post.
Please consider making a donation today, or becoming a sustaining member of Forage. Thank you, and happy new year! May 2017 be fruitful and prosperous.
The Forage Crew
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: firstname.lastname@example.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.
Flour sack dish towels, two designs available reflecting our north Florida seasons: fall/winter and spring/summer. Art by Melissa DeSa. $10 each
Forage pint glasses, with a shape that we really love! Only $5
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