Saturday, November 19, 2011

Localecopia's Meet and Greet, Palm Beach, Fla: A Locavore Haven

Got Local? Localecopia in Palm Beach County, Florida does. It is a non-profit organization, formed in 2008 by Geoffrey Sagrams and Rick Hawkins. It is designed to bring together Florida farmers, food purveyors, educators and local government with chefs and other businesses, to share ideas and products.

At this past Thursday's Meet and Greet, they did exactly that. Thirty plus companies from produce distributors to farms to culinary creators to compost vendors were there.

Jon Donkin of QV Farms

Set in the Breakers Palm Beach, the event thrilled Localecopia newcomers QV Farms, a Loxahatchee based farm. Jon Donkin and Tony Baker, the farmers, started growing fruits and vegetables last year, primarily for their own consumption. "We use organic growing methods so we can control exactly what goes into our plants," Baker said. They grow tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, micro-greens, and strawberries.

This year with the encouragement of David Sui, Ph.D, an extension faculty member at the Palm Beach County extension, they joined Localecopia. "We've had a lot of interest from people at this event," said Baker.

Ante and Danica Bosnjak of Milan Farms

This same sentiment is expressed by Danica Bosnjak and her son Ante, of Milan Farms in Loxahatchee. They were wholesalers for many years before deciding to include retail sales. They grow lychees, longans, Namwah Thai bananas, kaffir limes, jackfruit, and pomelo. They sell fresh-picked Thai bananas at the Wellington Greenmarket on Saturdays.

They use organic growing methods and work closely with the Palm Beach County Extension office. "Dr. Sui is always giving us hints and he suggested we join Localecopia." They are glad they did because they got a lot of attention from local grocery store food buyers at this event.

Nancy Roe talking to a chef about her produce

Nancy Roe of Farming Systems Research, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm in Boynton Beach was there with a colorful table of fresh vegetables and herbs. She was happily surprised by the large numbers of chefs at the event. Farming Systems Research has been growing produce since 2000. "We don't have enough to supply it," answered Roe, to a question from a visitor about her opinion on the growth of the local movement. The farm is so busy it has a membership waitting list.

Trish Strawn educating visiting chefs about her meat

Trish Strawn, owner of Deep Creek Ranch in Deland, Florida, was also there, enthusiastically talking about her grass-fed beef and lamb. "It is hormone and antibiotic-free," said Strawn with a smile. She supports other Central Florida vendors by selling products like eggs from Lake Meadows Naturals, and cheese from Latitude Foods.

"I think connections were made. There was an opportunity to connect and educate, in possibly the best venue we have," said Hawkins, smiling and waving his hand to indicate the Breakers. "It was a good day, " he added.

To find out more about Localecopia, you can go to their website

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