Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Geraldson Community Farm, Bradenton, Fla:Coastal Loving

Despite being in a tidal pool zone Geraldson Community Farm is thriving. Located just steps away from Tampa Bay, this 10-acre sandy-soiled organic farm produces enough food to feed its' 180 members and more.

Brackish water loving cattails in ditch at Geraldson
Community Farm, Bradenton, Fla.
In 2005, the Florida West Coast RC & D started leasing the land from the Geraldson Family, according to farm manager Claudie Babineaux. It was decided the farm would operate under the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model. Meaning the general public could support the farm by becoming members and buy shares in each season's crop, then get a box of produce, every week or two weeks for that share, like a dividend.

Sandy-soiled land of certified organic Geraldson
Community Farm, Bradenton, Fla.
Community support for this farm often goes beyond buying shares. Many members volunteer their time, like Susan Smith, a half-share member who helps seed the fields, "Sometimes I just like to do it. It feels good."

Claudie Babineaux explains how reflective mulch works,
Geraldson Community Farm, Bradenton, Fla.
Geraldson Community Farm likes to support the environment by using many sustainable practices like putting reflective mulch on their raised beds, and allowing weeds to grow between the beds. The mulch confuses whiteflies, making them think the sky is below them, so they don't land on the plants. And the weeds invite in friendly bugs to take care of the rest of the pest insect problems.

To find out more about Geraldson Community Farm you can call them at 941-981-0111 or visit them at their Sunday farm market at 1401 99th Street NW, Bradenton, FL 34209, 11am to 3pm.

Or go to their webpage


Monday, October 29, 2012

Tropical Flavors at 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.

Tropical flavors abounded at the 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, this 400 exhibitor plus show had many delicious treats from rum made with Florida citrus to wine made with tropical Florida fruit, and chocolate made with native Bolivian Cocoa beans.

A tasty newcomer was Florida Caribbean Distillers based in Central Florida. They source Florida citrus to make their rum and have done so since 1942 when grains were in short supply. I got to try some of their rum with an orange on the front. It tasted a lot like Grand Marnier.

Joe Reyes of Schnebly Winery and Brewery, 16th Americas
Food and Beverage Show, Miami Beach Convention
Center, Miami, Fla
Schnebly Redland's Winery and Brewery was there showing off their latest wines Cat 2 Hurricane Vino White (made with avocado and coconut) and Cat 2 Hurricane Vino Red (made with avocado and guava). According to Joe Reyes, Director of Marketing, the new Cat 2 Hurricane vino bottles were designed by social media from the traditional cork to the melted wax seal. Reyes added the wine was now being sold at many Walgreen stores in south Florida.

Jorge Camacho of Bolivia's fruits, 16th Americas Food
and Beverage Show, Miami Beach Convention Center,
Miami, Fla.
Another surprising taste came from Bolivia's Fruit USA. They had products that were both gluten-free and vegan including chocolate made from a Bolivian native organic cacao bean called Criolla.

Criolla, native cacao beans to Beniano area of Bolivia,
Bolivia's Fruit booth, 16th Americas Food & Beverage
Show, Miami Beach, Fla.
According to Jorge Camacho, General Manager of Bolivia's Fruits, these cacao beans are smaller than their hybridized commercial crop cousins. But native to the Beniano area of Bolivia.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Multicolored Eggs: Farriss Farm, Fla. Style

Farriss Farm has expanded. Based in Palm Beach Gardens, this farm run by Robert and Paula Farriss, expanded its egg production over the summer and got an egg/shell license. This means they can legally sell their eggs to humans.

Blue eggs from Farris Farm, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
They are now selling multicolored eggs. Although the color of the egg has more to do with the color of the hen that laid it, Farriss eggs taste better than ever in these new shades. The hens are pasture raised, meaning they have access to fresh grass. And that means the eggs taste like they have been seasoned with a touch of butter and a delicate sprinkle of salt.

You can purchase Farriss Farm eggs at the Tequesta Green Market on the first Sunday of the month. Or at the West PalmBeach Green Market each Saturday, or the Palm Beach Gardens Green Market each Sunday. To find out more about them you can contact them at 561-352-6028 or email them at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall In Florida: Local Produce Season

Fall in Florida means the beginning of growing season. Other States are gearing up for the changing of the leaves and pumpkin harvesting.
Turning of the leaves in North Carolina
In Florida, we are gearing up for freshly grown local produce at our farmers' and green markets. Here is just a taste of local farmers' and green markets.

Sarasota Farmers Market, Main Street & Lemon, Sarasota, Open Year Round, Sat, Winter hours (Oct to June) 7am - 1pm; Summer hours (July to September) 7am - 12noon
St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, 100 First Street Southeast, St. Petersburg, Open Year Round, Sat 9am - 2pm
Leesburg Farmers Market, 550 West Main Street, Leesburg, Open Year Round, Sat 8am - 1pm
Winter Park Farmers' Market, 200 West New England Ave, Winter Park, Open Year Round, Sat 7am - 1pm
Audubon Park Community Market, 1842 E Winter Park Rd (parking lot of Stardust Coffee & Video), Orlando, Open Year Round, Mon 6 - 10pm
Melbourne Farmers Market, Wickham Park Pavilion, 3845 Wickham Rd, Melbourne, Open Year Round, Thurs 3pm - 7pm

In Southern Florida, the growing season started a month late due to Tropical Storm Isaac. So, most of the fresh from Florida greens won't be appearing until November or December, except for some Tropicals and summer varieties.

Tequesta Green Market, Tequesta, Open Oct to April, 1st Sun of each month until Dec 2012, then Jan 2013 every 1st and 3rd Sun, 11am - 4pm
West Palm Beach Green Market, 401 Clematis St, West Palm Beach, Open Year Round, Sat, Hours: Oct to April, 8am - 2pm, May to Sept, 9am - 12noon
Palm Beach Gardens Green Market, 10500 North Military Trail, Open Year Round, Sun 8am - 1pm
Parkland Farmers' Market, 8350 Ranch Rd, Parkland, Open Nov to April (starting Nov 4, 2012), 1st and 3rd Sun of each month, 9am - 1pm
North Miami Farmers Market, MOCA Plaza, 770 NE 125th Street, North Miami, Open Oct to May, Thurs 11am - 6pm
Third Street South Farmers Market, 245 13th Ave South, Naples, Open Year Round, Sat 7:30 - 11:30am

Just an end note: Farmers' markets are mostly made up of farmers but green markets are not.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Sisters Vineyards, Dahlonega, GA: Local Loving

Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega, GA, was Lumpkin County's first licenced vineyard. The 180-acre estate has over 13,000 wine grape vines from European varietals to an American native varietal called Vitus aestinvalis (also known as Norton). Three Sisters embraces the idea of sourcing local by only using juice from their estate grown grapes.
Drive leading to Three Sisters Vineyard and Winery,
Dahlonega, GA
It was an unusually hot day, temperatures touching 100 degrees, when my husband and I visited the vineyard. We drove down a steep, red-gravel, drive through rows of lush grape vines. At the bottom of the hill there was a dusty parking lot and several buildings surrounding a small lake.

The heat slapped us hard as we emerged from the cocoon of our car. Sweat blurred our vision as we ran to the safety of the cool-aired tasting room.

Tasting room at Three Sisters Vineyard and Winery,
Dahlonega, GA
Inside we bought a $15 Vintner's Tasting Tour which gave us a choice of six wines and a souvenir glass. We chose wines from the dry list. Half way through our tasting we met Mr Doug Paul, family member and part owner of the Three Sisters Vineyard.

When he found out I was a food journalist he asked, "Why don't more Georgia restaurants carry Georgia wines?"

"I don't know", I said, "I get asked this question a lot. In Florida, we have some really good dry wines but no restaurants serve them. I think it's something to do with distribution problems and chefs unfamiliar with the wines."

Paul said he had taken his wines to Atlanta restaurants but could find no takers. He said there were some restaurants in Dahlonega that served his wines. As he talked he poured more than the six wines we had paid for.

Our favorites were 2007 Vidal Blanc (made with French-American hybrid grapes), 2006 Cabernet Franc, and 2007 Cynthiana (made with American native Vitus aestinvalis grapes).

The Cabernet Franc was deliciously complex. Aged in French and American oak barrels, this wine smelled slightly of Gardenias. It tasted of dark berries mixed with pepper and had a surprisingly creamy green-coconut finish.

The Cynthiana, aged in French and American oak, was delightfully full bodied and rich with just the right level of tannin at the end.

The Vidal Blanc, made with French-hybrid grapes, had a delicious oak nose and flavor. It ended clean with a crisp green-apple finish.

We had one blended wine called Fat Boy Red, made with Cynthiana, Cabernet, and Merlot. It had a sweet flavor at the beginning of the sip followed by a rich brown-sugar taste. It finished with strong tannin characteristics. This would be a good wintertime drinking wine.

I don't know why there were no takers in Atlanta for the wines from Three Sisters Vineyard. From what I tasted there were some really remarkable wines in the collection.

To find out more about Three Sisters Vineyards you can visit them in person, Thursday to Sunday, at 439 Vineyard Way, Dahlonega, GA, 30533,   phone: 706-865-9463

Or go to their website at

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ellis Brothers Pecans, Vienna, Georgia, Grown

Recently, I ate my way through the Ellis Brothers Pecans store in Vienna, Georgia. I've never seen so many uses for Georgia grown pecans. There were candies, preserves, pies and ice cream. I especially liked the candy coated types.
Ellis Bros. Pecans's store just off Hwy I-75,
Vienna, GA
My favorite candy coated pecans were the Honey Crunch (with a delicate honey flavor), Sweet Heat (Asian spices), and Praline Crunch (with butter, corn syrup and sugar). Each style had a sampling jar in front so you could try it before you bought it. Of course this made it harder to choose and harder to leave the store.

There was also everything else you'd expect from a country store like fruit preserves, honey, T-shirts, jewelry, chocolates, and boiled peanuts. But there was also a selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables like peaches and black eyed peas.

Pecan trees surrounding Ellis Bros. Pecan store,
Vienna, GA
I was particularly impressed that all the pecans being sold were from the trees surrounding the store.

They are located approx one-mile East of Interstate-75 (exit 109) at 1315 Tippettville Road, Vienna, GA   31092
Phone (800)635-0616 or (229) 268-9041

They also sell pecans online