Saturday, May 29, 2010

2010 Florida Green, Energy & Climate Conference Report Card

I attended the 2010 Florida Green, Energy and Climate Conference held at the South Florida Convention Center in West Palm Beach from May 24th to 25th.

I attended the general meetings, that came with meals, held in the Grand Ballroom: Green is Not an Option Anymore; Does Green Save You Green?; Florida's Future Job Market; Getting The $ For Green; 100 Cities (only 54 attended) Summit Outcome Presentation (attended by a handful of people).

There were so many break-out sessions crammed into the two day event that I could not get to them all, but the ones I did attend impressed me: Government and Institutional Planning; Metrics of Building Green and Renovation; How to Market Your Business As Green; Local Climate and Heat Island Effects in Cities.

By the end of the conference I felt empowered to do good things for the world and educate anyone who would listen to me.  However I was left with a sense of loss because there were more industry professionals than general public participants at the conference.  There was also a disconnect between the message and the venue.

I observed banquet servers putting soiled paper plates and plastic cutlery directly into the garbage bins instead of seperating out the recyclable items into the specially marked recycle bins, dotted about the Grand Ballroom.   I also noticed that those same recycle bins were hard to find near the break-out session rooms.

With all the talk about reducing our Carbon Footprint it was surprising how much disregard there was in respect to the produce used for the convention's meals.  As far as I am aware blackberries are not commercially in season as yet in the Continental United States, meaning they travelled a long distance to get to the Convention Center's breakfast buffet table.

Overall the convention was a success but I would encourage next year's organizers to the address the venue issues to make sure their message lines up with the public one.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Small Local Produce Farms vs. Organic Farms in South Florida

Which do you support?
It is a pretty hard life as a farmer whether its producing conventional or organic crop.  And while it is better to consume organic produce over conventional, it can be a challenge to buy locally grown certified organic produce in south Florida, as there are many more conventional farms here than organic.  Most certified organic produce comes from outside the state of Florida.

Of the conventional farms in South Florida, the smaller they are the better when it comes to using organic growing methods on their property.  They vary in size from one acre hydroponic operations to 200 acre soil based farms.  Many are CSAs--Community Supported Agriculture (Co-Ops)--that cater to both the individual consumer and restaurants.  The small based farmer is open to more suggestions on improving thier produce to please their customers than thier larger commercial based farms and so supporting them is the first step towards supporting future organic farms.

In South Florida some conventional small farms to check out are: Farris Farm (hydroponic) in Palm Beach Gardens; The Girls (hydroponic) in Delray; Swank Specialty Produce (hydroponic, CSA) in Loxahatchee; Green Cay Farm (CSA) in Boynton Beach; D&D Farms (CSA) in Palm City; Erickson Farm in Canal Point; Bedner's Farm in Boynton Beach; and Varri Green Farm in Port St. Lucie.

Some organic farms: Paradise Farm in Redlands; Sea Breeze Farm in Ft. Pierce; Lady Moon Farms in Punta Gorda; Somerset Farm in Naples.