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Fall & Winter Seeds!

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in Education, Events, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

Fall & Winter Seeds!

We’ve finally gone through our wish list and our mounds of saved seed to bring you this fall’s line up of garden seeds! It’s hard but rewarding work all year growing for seed. We are so very grateful to our partners at the Farm to School to Work program, and our dedicated volunteers that help us maintain the gardens, harvest, clean and package seeds!

An offshoot of that program, Grow Hub is now up and running and we are excited to continue our work with under served populations. Check out our new seed processing space we’ve been cleaning up!

A LIST OF OUR SEEDS CAN BE VIEWED HERE! Catalog coming very soon.

Our new seed house at Grow Hub!

Our new seed house at Grow Hub!

A LIST OF OUR SEEDS CAN BE VIEWED HERE!

Our full description catalog is coming soon, and our posted list is always subject to slight change. Sometimes we find new things to add, including small amounts of leftovers from previous seasons. As always, seeds are available first come, first serve and occasionally run out if they are popular or lower in quantity.

Sophia winnows Feaster Family Heirloom mustards; and Farmer John Daikon Radish seeds are left to cure.

Sophia winnows Feaster Family Heirloom mustards; and Farmer John Daikon Radish seeds are left to cure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seed Dispersal Dates

Wednesday September 13th
Union Street Farmers Market
4:00-7:00pm

Saturday September 16th
Haile Farmers Market
8:30am-12:00pm

Monday September 18th
Working Food Community Center
6:00-9:00pm

Please try to attend one of these events. If you cannot, seeds may picked up after these dates at the Working Food Community Center during business hours. Email melissa@workingfood.org to ensure someone is there!

 

 

 

 

Seedy Adventure Part I: A 150 Year Old Watermelon

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Education, Featured, Seed Saving | 0 comments

We’re excited to have a guest blogger tell the story of a recent road trip we took last weekend! Written by one of our members and fellow seed and garden junkie, Timothy Noyes.

Coordinates set, first stop Sumter, SC,  a seedy adventure set in the making months previous, is just about to start. There were many miles ahead of us on the road (522 to be exact), and the anticipation for Mel and myself was building. The conversation on the way to Sumter was great. Time was passing by so quickly as we recalled our history and goals, that even the couple gas stops and traffic slow downs seemed to be lost in my memory.

We felt star struck, receiving texts from Nathaniel Bradford along the way! If you haven’t read about the famous Bradford Watermelon, now is a good time!

We pulled off I 95, and headed down the dirt road where the famous Bradford melon had been, and still is growing, 150 years later. Our enthusiasm and excitement got the best of us, as we overshot our destination and hit the end of the road , looking at vast fields of peanuts. After a quick call, we were guided back by Nat Bradford to an afternoon we would not soon forget.

After a quick introduction, Mel and I shared our favorite things from Gainesville. Seminole pumpkins and Feaster Family heirloom mustards were just a few of the seeds we shared, and he even tasted a homegrown miracle fruit as soon as we told him about it.  Nat Bradford, a true southern gentleman, already had a table waiting on his beautiful porch for us to taste a special treat.  With bated anticipation, the wonderful seed watermelon was cut in the perfect way to preserve the seed. We cheers and dive in!

We'd waited 3 years to try one of these, after a couple seasons of bad luck trying to grow them in Gainesville.

We’d waited 3 years to try one of these, after a couple seasons of bad luck trying to grow them in Gainesville.

The flavor was just as advertised, but I believe the texture and juiciness did not get the credit it deserved. The flesh was tender like biting into cotton candy, and you certainly were not thirsty after eating a juice filled wedge. In fact, we forgot to drink water most of the afternoon but were not dehydrated, we ate so many fat, juicy wedges! Nat declared that this was one of the best watermelon’s and that even the rind was sweet. Then he realized that the miracle fruit was doing its job.

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We swapped some of our favorite southern seeds, and toured Nat’s field of family heirlooms!

He is a certainly a family man.  Whether it was sharing the joys of miracle fruit with his wife Betty, or his willingness to fill an order for watermelon smoothies for his spitfire daughter, you could see the love he had for them. He was very generous, and shared some of his rare seeds with us, looking forward to hearing about our success in growing them out.

A 51lb watermelon, destined for great things with every seed saved!

A 51 pound watermelon, destined for great things (brandy, molasses, rind pickles or fresh eating) with every seed saved for future generations!

Seedy Adventures Part II: A Driveway of Tomatoes

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Education, Seed Saving | 0 comments

Cheers! A belly full of watermelon kept us satiated for the afternoon.

Cheers! A belly full of watermelon kept us satiated for the afternoon.

Continued from Part I, written by guest blogger and gardening friend, Timothy Noyes.

After picking up a few Bradford watermelons to share and save seeds back home, we bid farewell to Nat who is loading up a truck full of watermelons destined for the fancy restaurants in Charleston the next day. We delicately wedge them in the car with our newly acquired seeds and plants, and head north to Durham, North Carolina to our base of operations for the next couple days.

We had so many ideas and thoughts from the few hours we spent with Nat, and we were thinking of ways of collaborating in the coming year. Mel and I stayed with my sister, and we got our choice of kid themed rooms. Mel took the pretty in pink girls room, and I choose the loft with the pull out bed. We knew we had to rest up as we had a huge day ahead of us on Saturday.

Our mission was to make it over to Raleigh to meet a friend of Mel’s, Craig LeHoullier. Craig lives in an unsuspecting quiet neighborhood, where every yard is carefully manicured. As the GPS tells us we have arrived, we carefully get out the of the vehicle to avoid the casual rollerbladers going up and down the hills in the neighborhood. Craig was there to greet us, and my eyes caught his tomato breeding and research center. In his book, Epic Tomatoes, Craig talked about growing all his plants in the driveway and we saw that it was true! This is the first of many overlaps and connections I felt with Craig.

As we walked through his home, it felt like going back in time as each room we walked in had much of the empty spaces taken up with beautiful tomatoes of every shape and color, a reminder of our spring a few months ago. We met Craig’s wife Sue. The love they share is sweet and a beautiful interaction every time they were together. We first decide to go to the back porch, where we chat for a couple hours over (home roasted) coffee, and talk about the future of seed saving and how we all got interested in what we do.

We watched the birds at the feeders hoping to catch the little red headed woodpecker Craig was fond of, and maybe catch the fledgling blue bird eat from the suet for the first time. Sue brought us out wonderful homemade chocolate zucchini cake, and I started wondering to myself if the birds were the ones watching us. The birds were lucky that day, because they got to see a couple of Floridians as we extend our known range.

How about lunch?!

This is what the kitchen counter of a food lover and tomato breeder looks like!

This is what the kitchen counter of a food lover and tomato breeder looks like!

Craig taught us about the perfect grilled cheese. Nice sharp cheddar, a good slice of tomato, a couple thick slices of bread browned just the right way. We chose our tomatoes wisely after a brief tasting, and we watched the chef at work as Sue prepared a delightful corn salsa.

I can give one of the ingredients away; Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar in the 8 oz. block for $3.99, how they do it no one knows (not even the chef).  I remember the sandwich there on my plate, but within just a few minutes there was no sign that it ever existed.

Craig discussed the highs and lows of being an author. Though there were plenty of lows, he provided sage advice about choosing to not let that affect you and to keep on smiling.  Sue loves to quilt, and Craig took us up to show us her space.  It was beautiful open area where a quilt of foxes was slowly being pieced together. She makes memory quilts from old t-shirts and fabrics! In fact you can commission one from her website, Seedlings Sewn!

Craig pulled me aside to show me a special room; the place where millions of seeds were filed and stored! The best I could describe it was walking into an almost untouched rainforest- full of biodiversity and promise. About 30 years of Craig’s life’s work, no longer in a book.

Want to see the tomatoes?!

The research driveway was a little past halfway of the season, and there were ripening tomatoes everywhere not to mention peppers and eggplants. There were peppers that went from cream, to purple, and then to gold, and there were eggplants from the same seeds that were different colors and shapes. That is the exciting potential within every plant. To his neighbors, it was just another year at Crazy Craig’s driveway, which they know is just seasonal and will close up in the next month or two.

The reality is that it is a museum or art exhibit with meaning and history. When you include the story, value and significance is added to the plant. The driveway will be empty next year, because the LeHoulliers want to see the country to visit the national parks and their daughters. We will have to take over for him for the year in Florida.  Let us share our data!

The famous driveway of tomatoes we'd read about, was almost hard to believe could exist at this small of a scale. 30 years of tomato breeding, millions of seeds, hundreds of varieties, all started in a driveway!

The famous driveway of tomatoes we’d read about, was almost hard to believe could exist at this small of a scale. 30 years of tomato breeding, millions of seeds, hundreds of varieties, all started in a driveway!

Craig and Mel went over the data from the Everglades project, a purposeful breeding between the Everglades currant tomato and several of Craig’s varieties. He was impressed with her record keeping, and was excited about the possibilities and results.

Craig is interested in collaborating with us in Gainesville, and would love to do a talk! He was so generous, as gardeners tend to be, and offered us anything we wanted from his vast tomato collection.

Mel was overwhelmed with the choices, but this was the question I was ready for! I wanted to share with people and show people how interesting growing and breeding tomatoes can be. I know that visuals certainly help, and Craig was able to get me some really diverse tomatoes with some having variegation, chartreuse leaves, and all different sizes and colors.

7 hours passed so quickly, I did not even begin to start asking my questions and we were heading out the door.  I said that Craig and I had some real overlaps. We both grow at our homes in containers on a driveway (well mine is a backyard cement pad, same difference). We have a love for tomatoes and their stories. We understand that without the story the tomatoes are just a part of the background. We believe that sharing what we have with as many people as possible is the only way.

Keeping secret seeds or processes from others just isolates you and in the end that isolation will cause you to fail. Equally as important we also dislike condiments especially mayonnaise. I hope that we all can aspire to be more like Craig. Whether it is the love he shares with his spouse, the generosity he has with others, the kindness he shows to friends and strangers alike, or the wisdom he has gained from life, we could certainly be a better group of people.

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Friends and collaborators for life!

Seedy Adventure Part III: The Final Course!

Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 in Education, Seed Saving, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Written by our guest blogger and friend, Timothy Noyes. Read Part I and II here first! 

After a day of talking tomatoes, we decided to get some dinner at a pizza place recommended by Craig and Sue in Durham before crashing for the night. Walking into Pompieri Pizza there was a row of fish tanks with large gold fish in them. I really don’t over think restaurant decorations any more, because so many of the trendy places now have eclectic designs. As my eyes scanned the open design of the place, I saw that the fish tanks were part of a hydroponic system that provided fresh herbs to the restaurant!

On our walk to discover more of what downtown Durham had going on there was a book, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, that caught Mel’s eye like a puppy in a pet store window. As much as she tried to resist the purchase, memories of so many southern meals, our recent visit to Nat Bradford, and the constant search for southern vegetables made resistance futile. It is funny how at almost every turn of the adventure, the undertone of why we took the trip and our passions were all around us.

By the time we got back to the house, we both agreed that we better crash to prepare ourselves for the day and drive ahead. As my head hit the pillow, dreams of new varieties of tomatoes and the future adventures flooded my mind. The next morning we decide to follow some more of Sue’s suggestions, because we had time to kill before cooking school.

We grabbed a bite at the very busy and popular Elmo’s diner, prior to shooting over to the Eno River for a short hike. Perhaps the walk would create enough room in our full bellies for the feast soon to come. The Eno River hike was gorgeous, and it turns out that both Mel and I love being near water. Whether it is the soothing sound of the ocean breaking on the shore, or a gentle flow between river rocks, the sound and smell is relaxing.

As we were passing a family along the river, a young boy asked us where we were going. I did not think much about the question while I was there, but I now find so much meaning in it. I was present for once in a long time. Not living in the future or the past, we were just enjoying and seeing where the next bend took us.

After the hike we changed out shoes for sandals, and headed out to the cooking class at Southern Seasons. This cooking school is located in a high end grocery store, that appeared to have taken the place of some flagship store like Macy’s in what I am sure was a mall at some point.

The Cooking School classroom was high tech and very functional!

The Cooking School classroom was high tech and very functional!

The menu was not a surprise as it was posted in advance, but I was worried. Many people say I am a picky eater, but I always say my taste buds are classically trained! Truthfully, I am an adult with a kid’s palette, and not an 8 – 12 year old, but more like 5 and under. I am sure you can understand my nervousness for a menu that includes a BLT Panzanella, Sungold Tomato Salad, Indian-Spiced Garlic Braised Tomatoes, and Tomato and Peach Galette. Mel was eagerly anticipating the flavors, while I was sweating them. All that said, I was proud of myself, and received praise from Mel because I finished and cleaned plate after plate that was brought out to us! The food was incredible!

Chef Caitlin Burke was accompanied by Craig LeHoullier our tomato breeder friend and author extraordinaire, and Alex Hitt, a local farmer and long time friend and collaborator of Craig’s. The class provided the perfect balance of information and demonstration about cooking, using fresh local tomatoes, growing, breeding and farming. It painted the whole picture of a food system. Plus there was delicious food to savor! I believe this exemplifies what Working Food in Gainesville is trying to do.

Tomato accents as table decor, Sungold salad and tomato & peach gallette.

Tomato accents as table decor (Matt’s Wild Cherry and Egg Yolk);  Sungold tomato salad and tomato & peach galette. Yum!! I was part of the clean plate club!

Bellies and hearts full, we said goodbye to Craig and Sue. It was time to get home. An 8 hour drive was ahead and it was nearly 4:00pm!

We buckled in the Bradford Watermelons and plants we received from Nat, set the GPS to Gainesville, and off we went. We had to make a few stops along the way for gas and such. I believe that North Carolina was not ready to see us go; after our first pit stop, our Australian Siri guide on the GPS said we should take the next exit?! We looked at each other and said that is weird, must be one of those Bermuda triangle areas. I had gone north on I95 not south, for an extra 8 miles. Whoops! We made it home safely by about 1 am that morning.

This trip would have not been at all possible if it were not for Melissa DeSa. I would not have had a seed watermelon from Nat Bradford, a grilled cheese with tomato from Craig, a stroll along the Eno River, or the chance to expand my youthful palette. I would not have these new friends, or had a few days just being in the moment. Thank you for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to be a part of this bigger picture.

Craig LeHoullier told me, “it’s all about something bigger and more important than any one of us.”  He could not be more right. I am ready to do my part, and cannot wait for our next seedy adventures!

 

New Community Food Center!

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in Education, Featured, Slider | 0 comments

New Community Food Center!

 

Over the past few years you may have heard whispers about Forage’s efforts to develop a community food center. Well after a long haul of hard work, we’ve found a location, and are officially moved in! There is LOTS of work to do, and we’re excited to have your help to make this space vibrant.

But first, the story. Forage will be joining forces with the efforts of Blue Oven Kitchens, and merging in to one more powerful and effective non-profit organization under one roof.

Forage + Blue Oven Kitchens = Working Food. 

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We are located at 219 NW 10th Ave. in the old Powell’s Plaza. We’re across from the new brewery, Cypress and Grove and just down the street from Bread of the Mighty Food Bank. There’s also a new breakfast restaurant opening in our shared parking lot!

We are NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC just yet (except for a few scheduled events). We are usually there Monday through Friday from 10am-2pm, or by appointment. Since we are in construction and planning phase we may not always be there so it’s good to call first. 352-260-4458. Please call if you have any questions about the space, are interested in kitchen or event space rentals!

Forage is still here, we’re not gone! We will sacrifice our name, as will Blue Oven Kitchens, becoming one under Working Food. I know, it was hard for us all to come to this decision but trust us, it made the most sense. Rest assured, our key programs that define us will still persist, and now thrive with a physical home base. The Southern Heritage Seed Collective and our youth garden efforts will be stronger and more accessible by having a physical location.

Finally, in one place, our new community food center will offer:

-A safe home for our seed collection, and easier access year-round to seeds instead of seasonal events only.
-A place to organize and host community events, workshops, classes and more!
-A certified commercial kitchen incubator much more efficient and scaled up than Blue Oven Kitchens, for food entrepreneurs that will facilitate the growth of local business ownership and job creation.
-A certified commercial kitchen for individuals to rent by the hour to make their own pickles, jams, sauces, baked goods and more, as well as temporary cold storage.
– Cold and dry food storage, warehousing, and aggregation space that will provide existing and start-up businesses much easier access and use of locally grown food.
-Easier access to local food products for both retail and institutional customers.
-Private event space rental with indoor, outdoor and kitchen access.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT: WorkingFoodPPT_Final.pptx

We have a lot of work cut out for us. Will you help? We’ll be painting, renovating, buying supplies, landscaping, and more. We’ll also need to train some very special volunteers to hold regular hours at the center to help with day to day operations.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES! 

 

Featured Article in Seed Savers Exchange!

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Education, Featured, Seed Saving, Slider | 0 comments

Featured Article in Seed Savers Exchange!
Melissa with Seed Savers Exchange founder Diane Whealey in front of her lush garden. Diane is a wonderful woman of great passion, generosity and vision.

Melissa with Seed Savers Exchange founder Diane Whealey in front of her lush garden. Diane is a wonderful woman of great passion, generosity and vision.

We’re excited to be a feature grower in the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Companion publication! We’ve long been fans of this organization that has given us great inspiration and direction in our work. In this summer’s issue, they asked Melissa to be their featured member!

Click here to view issue.

Southern Seed School: June 3rd!

Posted by on May 11, 2017 in Education, Events, Seed Saving | 0 comments

Southern Seed School: June 3rd!

Saturday June 3, 9am-3pm

At the UF Field and Fork Teaching Farm, IFAS Research Drive

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Empowering small scale growers to improve regional agricultural biodiversity!

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could develop your own garden vegetable varieties? Or improve existing ones to better suit your preferences? Maybe even save enough of your own seed, so you don’t need to buy them each year? Well you can! Join us for a mini crash course all about seeds for southern gardeners and farmers. Learn about selecting the right varieties, conducting your own trials and experiments, and saving and improving varieties. You can do it! Local experts are here to help!

A small registration fee to cover our costs, includes a tasty local lunch and beverages!

REGISTER HERE!

Workshop Schedule (subject to slight change):
 
8:30-9AM check in and grab a coffee, water
 
9AM-9:20AM welcome and introduction 
 
9:20-9:45 Chris Wilson
CROP GENETICS 101 AND BIODIVERSITY
 
Agrobiodiversity is important for sustainable regional food systems, and amateur plant breeders (like you!) have an important role to play in shaping and improving the diversity of our regional crops. To understand how biodiversity works in crop plants, we’ll cover some basic population genetics like in-breeders vs out-breeders, homozygosity vs heterozygosity, and a few basic breeding methods. We’ll also explore how growing conditions like low-input and organic production play a role in shaping our plants.
 
9:45- 11:00 Chris Wilson (cont’d)
HOW TO SET UP VARIETY TRIALS
 
Gardeners and farmers love to try new things. We look for new varieties that will perform well in our climate, and have resistance to pests and diseases which are always evolving. The best way to assess whether something is doing well beyond anecdotal observations, is to set up a variety trial at your farm or garden. A properly set up trial doesn’t have to be laborious or tedious, and can be scaled to your needs and interests. Set up properly, they allow you to compare traits of a certain crop (i.e. vigor, production, disease resistance, pest resistance etc.) in a more scientific way that will produce useful information. 
 
11:00-11:10 BREAK
 
11:10 – 12:00 Melissa DeSa
SEED SAVING PT. I: FROM SEED TO SEED, GROWING THE BEST PLANTS FOR SEED PRODUCTION
As a matter of course, farmers and gardeners always used to save their own seeds. With so few of us doing this anymore, we’ve given up control of our food supply, letting decisions about what we’ll grow up to fewer and larger seed companies. This does not bode well for sustaining varieties with regional significance, or for overall biodiversity. When we save our own, we not only ensure our own future food supply, but start to shape the qualities of the crops that we desire. We can select for taste, vigor, shelf life, disease resistance and more! 
 
We’ll learn the basic concepts of plant reproduction as they pertain to seed production like inbreeding vs. outbreeding, population size, isolation techniques and cross-pollination concerns. We’ll discuss the significance of heirloom, hybrid and open-pollinated plants. 
 
12:00-12:30 LUNCH BREAK
 
12:30-1:20 Melissa DeSa
SEED SAVING PT II: HARVESTING, PROCESSING AND STORING SEEDS
Learn about dry vs. wet-seeded crops, how and when to harvest, extract, ferment, and winnow your seeds according to their specific needs. With a few hands-on examples, we’ll clean some seeds together. Finally, we’ll discuss the best methods for seed storage.
 
1:20-1:30 BREAK
 
1:30-3:00 Timothy Noyes 
BREED YOUR OWN VARIETIES!

Want tastier tomatoes? Milder mustards? Bigger pumpkins? Slower-bolting greens? Try breeding your own! The development of new varieties and landraces suitable for our area is imperative to keep up with the changing environment, disease and pest pressures our crops face, as well as the personal preference of the grower for qualities like flavor and vigor. Many of the seeds we have access to, are grown outside of our regional conditions, and therefore subject to very different conditions.  As amateur plant breeders, we can narrow in and select the best varieties for North Central Florida and improve them to fit our specific needs. You’ll come away from this talk with the inspiration and tools needed to go about improving your crops, just the way you want them to be!

3:00 Optional trip to UF student farm near the bat house to observe the garden.

Meet our presenters!

Seed Poster

Local Food Awards Dinner!

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Events, Fundraiser, Local Food | 0 comments

Local Food Awards Dinner!

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!

Faith Carr: Community Organizer Extraordinaire!

faye crop gg logoFaith Carr has been at the center of grassroots movements in the Gainesville area for over 8 years. With her well known motto, “Shovels in the ground, people!”, she works tirelessly and unpaid to get more people growing their own food through the Grow Gainesville network. She has helped connect and empower numerous individuals, businesses and other non-profit and community organizations. She is often behind the scenes orchestrating events and bigger system-wide projects. She is frequently found lending a hand, a tool, and advice to others. You can bet that more people have shovels in the ground in our community because of her passionate dedication to growing food!

 

 

Jordan Brown: More than a Fair Farmer!

JB profileJordan Brown has managed his farm, The Family Garden since 2007. Now located in East Gainesville, the farm grows organic fruits and vegetables for both wholesale and local direct to consumer markets. What sets Jordan’s operation apart from other farms, is the dedication to growing affordable, clean, healthy food for the community, with a business model that supports farm workers in a fair and just way. The farm is certified organic, and the only Food Justice Certified Farm in the South! Employees at The Family Garden make a living wage and have rights that other agricultural workers are often denied. Jordan is also dedicated to providing produce for the Alachua County School lunch program, bringing more healthy and fresh food to our kids!

 

 

This fundraiser will benefit the programs of Forage, allowing us to continue serving our food community and working with the wonderful Local Food Awardees!

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!Forage Feast 2017-2

 

What’s Growing On With Forage?

Posted by on Mar 10, 2017 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. 

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.

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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.

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.

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Our little seed garden in the back 40 of Loften High School grows some succulent southern veggies for seeds. We couldn’t do it without the help of the students, staff and volunteers!

 

High school students with special needs enrolled in a vocational training program at Horizon Center, learn all about food and agriculture by experiencing it! Forage is so humbled to partner with this amazing program through our seed collective. Each season students learn about growing seeds at our on-site seed garden, help clean and process seeds from the field, and package into little envelopes for you!

Each season students learn about growing seeds and how they are cleaned and packaged for dispersal in the community. Thousands of little envelopes are filled and labelled each year for our seed collective! Here Josh is packing Turkey Craw Pole beans!

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! We are located at 219 NW 10th Ave, and can’t wait to share the space with you. Stay tuned for more details! CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT WORKING FOOD!

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 lacto-fermentation!

Tomato Bootcamp! Sunday March 12th.

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Education, Events, Fundraiser | 0 comments

Tomato Bootcamp! Sunday March 12th.

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
-Variety selection
-Basic maintenance and care (i.e. trellising techniques, suckering, pruning)
-Saving seed
-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!)

Contact: melissa@foragefarm.org

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.