Saturday, September 30, 2017

El Solar Dehydrator, Sustainable Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla.

There's a large solar-powered food dehydrator in Sebastian, Florida. It is located on the 80-acre property of Sustainable Kasha Ashram. The Ashram has existed for over 35 years and only recently started a permaculture project, headed up by the children of the original founder of the Kasha Ashram. Their project is aimed at having year-round producing gardens, a food forest, and edible products from their animals like milk, cheese and eggs.

Sustainable Kashi Permaculture project,
Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast Farm Tour,
Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Back in February, of this year I went on a tour of the facility with several members of Slow Food Gold And Treasure Coast chapter. We were all participating in a self-driven farm tour day.

Worm casting fertilizer, Sustainable Kashi Permaculture project,
Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast chapter Farm Tour,
Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Sustainable Kashi grows most of the food they eat using permaculture practices that emulate natural growing conditions as mush as possible. They do this by using compost, and worm casting teas for fertilization, natural pest controls like neem oil, hand weeding, and symbiotic plantings like placing bananas and sweet potatoes side-by-side (the potatoes capture nitrogen for the bananas and the potatoes vines grow up the bananas stalks).

To make the most of what they grow, because sometimes they grow more they can eat and sell, they dehydrate their produce in their outdoor solar powered dehydrator. They named it El Solar Dehydrator.

El Solar Dehydrator, Sustainable Kashi Permaculture project,
Slow Food Gold & Treasure Coast chapter Farm Tour,
Kashi Ashram, Sebastian, Fla. Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
The dehydrator is triangular in shape looking slightly like a plastic vending machine sandwich container. However this container is made out of wood and glass and stands over five feet in height.

Inside are several movable screen-trays where fresh produce can be placed. On one side is a sloping pane of glass with air vents both at the bottom and top. The lower vents let in cool air and the upper ones let out sun-heated, moisture-rich air. Temperatures inside the dehydrator can get as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit even on a cloudy, cool day. So it is necessary that the air constantly be moving and through the wonder of physics it does because cool air when heated always rises.

This means that without any outside power source the fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries that are placed on the movable trays can have their moisture wicked away from them in a matter of hours and they can be transformed into flavor rich, edible morsels.

During the Florida growing season (October to May approximately) you can buy Sustainable Kashi produce at a on-property market the 2nd Sunday of each month.

You can find out more about Sustainable Kashi or go to their Facebook page.

Or you can visit them at 11155 Rosalind Rd., Sebastian, FL 32958
Phone (321) 445-1395

To find out more about Slow Food Gold And Treasure Coast Farm Tour and other events go to

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Surf ‘N Suds Soap Company, Florida Microbreweries Supporter & More

Palm Beach County, Fla.—Surf ‘N Suds makes soap out of beer and more. Owner Majorie Shedd is passionate about supporting local breweries. I met Shedd last year at the PGA National Craft Beer Festival where they had Goose Island IPA beer soap for sale at $7 a bar.

Surf 'N Suds Soap Company's Goose IPA beer soap, Palm Beach County, Fla.
Copyright 2016 by Helen A Lockey
Surf ‘N Suds Soap Company attends a lot of south Florida beer festivals.

Their Goose Island IPA beer soap had whole hops sticking out the top of the bar. It smelt a little like the IPA and definitely had the citrusy scent of hops to it.

Surf ‘N Suds Soap Company has over five Florida based microbrewery beer infused bar soaps, beard oils and lotions in their collection. If you don’t want beer in your soap you can buy Sober Soap, beard oils, body lotions without beer. Or you can look at a small selection of rum infused products.

Surf ‘N Suds does more than support local breweries. Recently they stopped using Palm Oil in their soaps for ethical and environmental reasons.

They have two very compelling videos on their site explaining why they no longer use Palm Oil in their products. 

One video features Leo DiCaprio (“Before The Flood,” Nov 2016) that runs for 5 minutes 12 seconds, and the other video with Harris Ford (“Year of Living Dangerously,” Aug 2017) runs for 6 minutes 8 seconds. Both explain the hazards of the Palm Oil industry to the environment. 

These videos will change your mind about buying products that contain Palm Oil.

Surf 'N Suds products range in price from $7 for bar soap to $12 for beard oils and lotions.

You can see the full range of Surf 'N Suds Company products on their website or on their Facebook page

Or you can call Marjorie She'd at Surf 'N Suds at (561) 289-0488

Monday, July 31, 2017

Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine, Fla., Vegan Vegetarian Local

St. Augustine, Fla.--Present Moment Cafe serves delicious raw-vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian food. It has been operating in the north Florida area for over 10 years. And is a short drive from San Sebastian Winery along King Street. They buy local ingredients when they can and support Florida breweries.

Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
I had the good fortune to visit them several months ago, on a a quiet weekday night when the crowds were small. Parking was scarce, behind the cafe, so I was glad there were not many patrons.

The atmosphere was welcoming with warm lights and soft music. The service was Island style so it was good I was not in a rush.

Middle East Peace Hummus, Present Moment Cafe,
St. Augustine, Fla. Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
I started my meal with the Middle East Peace Hummus dish ($8) that came with house made dehydrated corn chips, that were delicious. It also had a lovely mint and cashew drizzle that livened up the hummus and fresh vegetables.

The idea behind raw-vegan food chips is that living ingredients are put in a dehydrator, that gets no hotter than 150 degrees Fahrenheit so the living enzymes stay intact, to crisp them up.

Macro Burger with Cheez, Present Moment Cafe,
St. Augustine, Fla., Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
And then I ordered the Macro Burger with Cheez (vegan cheese)($9). It was a delicious, meaty (but not from an animal product) black bean burger mixed with sweet potato and rice. It came with all the fixings and a bun. From the outside it looked like a regular hamburger.

Sunlight Burger, Present Moment Cafe, St. Augustine, Fla.,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
It was so filling I had no room for dessert. But I did want some food for the next morning, so I ordered some to go: Stacked Bagel with cashew cream cheez and avocado ($7) and a raw-vegan Sunlight Burger ($12).

The Sunlight Burger was a dehydrated patty made from a mix of mushrooms, nuts and a veggie burger. It was topped with dehydrated onions and veggie provolone cheese. It came with a side of salad and some more dehydrated corn chips...yum.

I plan to visit them again the next time I am in town.

They are located at 224 W. King Street, Saint Augustine, FL 32084
Phone (904) 827-4499

The Present Moment Cafe hours are: Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Fri. to Sat. 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

You can find them online at

Friday, June 30, 2017

Black Coral Rum, Riviera Beach, Fla.

Riviera Beach, Fla.--Black Coral Rum is made the old fashioned way. There are no artificial ingredients or added sugar in this rum according to owner Ben Etheridge. "This is what the essence of rum was like before artificial essences," said Etheridge, during an interview, at the Ninth Annual Miami Rum & Trade Show in April this year. 

Mixologist John Moore and Owner Ben Etheridge, Black Coral Rum,
Riviera Beach Florida based, 9th Annual Miami Rum & Trade Show,
Miami, Fla. Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Florida born Etheridge started making rum in his backyard at age 16 and now at age 34 he and his dad Clint have a 500-gallon still distillery. They are very transparent about their process. "It is our duty to be honest with you. Not many do it but we do," Ben said.

Ben is passionate about his rum and wants everyone to be able to experience it so he keeps his prices affordable. He also wants you to buy his rum to help the families of fallen service men and women. For each bottle of rum sold, one dollar goes to Operation 300, a non-profit organization, based in Hobe Sound, Florida.

Other ways they help the local community is by buying Florida grown sugar-cane molasses from Clewiston and getting their bottles made in Miami-Dade County.

As for the rum, both the white and spiced rum starts with a nine-day fermentation period followed by a 12- hour distillation period. Then both are put into white American Oak barrels and aged for six months. The white is then passed through coconut husk carbon filtration before bottling and the spiced has natural ingredients added to it. As Ben says, “If it doesn’t grow in the ground it is not in our rum.”

The white rum has delicious overtones of butterscotch, almond, chocolate and molasses. 
The spiced rum has a juicy, vanilla banana bread taste. 

Black Coral Rum opened just over two years ago and already it can be found in most restaurants, bars, Publix Stores, ABC Liquor Stores and Total Wine & More from Melbourne to Key Largo on the East coast of Florida and from Port Charlotte to Naples on the West coast of Florida.

To find more locations go to Black Coral Rum's website , and enter your zip code to find a location near you. Due to Florida law restrictions the distillery is not allowed to offer online rum sales. But if you go in person you can buy up to six bottles of each type of rum (this time last year you could only purchase two bottles). 

However if you go to Publix, ABC or Total Wines & More you can buy as many bottles as you like.

This fall (around September), Black Coral Rum will be moving from Riviera Beach to a new location in downtown West Palm Beach where they will be opening a tasting room for their 2000-2500 gallon still. "We'll be building the biggest distillery in West Palm Beach. It will be the biggest craft distillery in the state," said Ben, adding, "We will be making spirits that haven't been made in over a hundred years."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Treasure Rum, Chocolate Cherry Flavored Rum

Miami, Fla.—Good tasting cherry flavored alcohol is hard to find. But Treasure Rum's Chocolate Cherry Flavored Rum has mastered it. “It took a long time to get the flavoring right but we got it just right,” said co-owner Mike Spies, and former Florida Keys resident, of Treasure Rum LLC. I met him and his business partner Jannette Galis-Menedez at the Ninth Annual Miami Rum Festival & Trade Show this year at the Miami Airport Convention Center.

Mike Spies and Jannette Galis-Menedez owners of Treasure Rum, at 9th
Annual Miami Rum Festival & Trade Show, Miami, Fla.

Treasure Rum, started just seven months ago, has already gotten onto the shelves of all the Total Wine &More stores from Homestead to Plantation.

It was the long time passion turned hobby for Spies who wanted to develop his own personal flavored rum. With the help of Citrus Distillery in Riviera Beach, Fla., they developed their double distilled hand-crafted rum.

“It has been very interesting, but a lot of work,” said Cuban born Galis-Menedez. They wanted to use the word Pirate for their brand but it was already trademarked. So to represent their dual heritage, a map of Cuba and a tiny pirate image is located on the label.

I found it to be yummy dark, golden-colored rum with a pleasant aroma and taste rich dark cherries followed by milk chocolate.

“It has an aftertaste like chocolate covered cherries, that’s what we were looking for,” said Spies. He added they had to go out of country to get the flavoring for the rum because they did not want it to taste like chocolate covered cough syrup.

Spies said their rum has been very well received at every Total Wines & More tastings he has done in south Florida stores. He also found a good response at the Miami Rum show.

You can find out more details about them and Treasure Rum at

Also Island Dogs Bar, in Key West now serves Treasure Rum.

You can also email Jannette Galis-Menedez at or call 305-799-1941

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Florida Edible Mahoe Tree

If you live in Florida you often get to see variegated Mahoe trees. You might know them as an ornamental tree used to bring color to a yard. But I bet you didn’t know these colorful Mahoe trees have edible parts. Well according to Green Deane of Eat The Weeds they are.

Multicolored Mahoe tree, Florida
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
He is a Florida forager who takes people on walks through Florida wilderness to teach them about which wild plants and fruit are edible. 

Mahoe flower, edible hibiscus, Florida
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Mahoe trees are in the edible hibiscus tree family. The yellow flowers can be eaten raw but the leaves have to be cooked according to Deane.

The flowers are slightly slimy in texture and have lettuce like flavor mixed with just a touch of sweetness.

According to Deane the flowers only last one day and are yellow in the morning and red in the evening before they die.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Get Your Dry Florida-Grown Stover Wine Before It’s Gone

St. Augustine, Fla.—Stover Reserve wine, from San Sebastian Winery, is ending. It will no longer be available for sale after the last case is sold this year. It is a dry white wine made from Florida-grown vinifera bunch grapes called Stover. San Sebastian winery and their sister company Lakeridge Winery are the only vineyards in the state of Florida still growing this grape varietal.

Limited supply Stover Reserve dry Florida-grown wine, San Sebastian Winery,
St. Augustine, Fla., Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

In 2016 the Stover grape vines suffered a devastating blight. This drove the wine growers and producers to decide to pull up the vines and not replant. If they did replant it would take another five years before the vines produced enough fruit to make wine.

Stover Reserve is a delicious white wine that starts of slightly sweet and finishes dry. It has clean notes of citrus, juicy green apple and aromatic spice. It goes wonderfully with fish and chicken dishes. It is a multi-award winning wine.

If you want to buy a bottle or case you’ll have to go directly to San Sebastian or Lakeridge wineries because there are no longer enough cases for them to put on their internet order page. Nor are there enough bottles to include in their complimentary wine tasting.

I talked to a wine shop representative today (March 31, 2017), and she said they only had 16 cases left.

They sell for $12.99 a bottle and are worth every cent.

And if you like this wine, I mean really like this wine and the idea that dry white wine grapes are growing in Florida, then contact Seavin Incorporated, the parent company of San Sebastian & Lakeridge, and tell them to replant the Stover grape vines. Then pledge that you will buy and tell all your friends to buy this wonderful Florida-grown wine in five years time.

157 King Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Phone: 904-826-1594

19239 US-27, Clermont FL 34715
Phone: 1-800-768-9463

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Florida Farm Bureau Womens Leadership Conference

Florida--Women farmers are gathering again for a leadership conference. The event, started just five years ago, brings together female farmers, ranchers, media and individuals interested in farming from around the state of Florida for a two and a half day educational and fellowship conference.

Florida Farm Bureau Womens Leadership Conference farm tour 2016,
Belle Glade, Fla. Copyright 2017 By Helen A Lockey

They come together to figure out how to tell their stories through social media, educational book readings to school children and on-farm events. Many if not most are multigenerational farmers and they want to include people in their farming journey.

They want people to know how they came to farm in Florida, what they farm, how they take care of the land they farm, and why they want to continue to farm.

They want people to see that they care about what is going to happen now and in the future of farming. This conference helps them translate their passion into beautiful, supportive  and educational messages.

But there is so much more to this conference like tours of local farms, bonding exercises and inspirational speakers.

I have attended two of these conferences and have learned a lot about female farmers and farms in general here in the state of Florida.  I found the farm tours to be one of the most interesting parts of the conferences. I also felt very welcomed by the women ranchers and farmers each time I attended.

Amy Roloff speaking at the Florida Farm Bureau Womens
Leadership Conference in 2016, Boca Raton, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Highlights of the 2016 conference held in Boca Raton, Florida, were the Palm Beach County farm tour and first-generation farmer speaker Amy Roloff from the television reality show, "Little People, Big World."

Roloff summed up the sentiment of the whole leadership conference.

"I'm just here to share my insights on being on a farm," Roloff said, adding, "We're big on sharing our farm with other people. It's about building community and making the change about agriculture."

This year's conference is being held in St. Augustine at World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort (500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, Fla.) from March 2-4th, 2017.

There are still spots available according to Jason Davison (in a phone call Feb 28, 2017). "We love to have people new to the farming community attend."

You can register online or at the door with a check or cash ($100 made out to Florida Farm Bureau Federation), just be aware that food might not be available with your purchase. But according to Davison they will try and make sure your needs are met.

Unfortunately the hotel is already booked but there is another hotel nearby at exit 323 off Interstate 95, and other hotels at exit 318.

It is worth the time and costs to attend this event especially if you are interested in women farmers and ranchers in the state of Florida and how you might be able to help them get their message out.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Night Market Waterside, Lake Worth Farmers Market, Fla.

The Night Market Waterside at Lake Worth Farmers Market is worth a visit. It is located in the same place as the Saturday morning farmers market except it is at night, from 6-9 p.m., on the first Wednesday of the month. Unfortunately because this market is a pop-up style, it only has four dates of existence in its schedule.
Night Market Waterside, Lake Worth Farmers Market location, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Most of the Saturday morning vendors are at the night market except for some farmers, they have to be up early to tend to their crop. To fill in their absence Peter Robinson, the organizer of both markets, has included food trucks and artisans booths.

Fresh oyster shucking at Night Market Waterside, Lake Worth
Farmers Market location, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
I went to the first night market back in November, and found it to be a lovely, intimate event made up of sparkling lighted booths, soft breezes, gentle music and yummy food choices that included freshly shucked oysters.

Farmers at Night Market Waterside, Lake Worth Farmers
Market location, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
In February, the market is going to be themed around Valentine's Day as a Love Feast, according to Robinson. There will be all sorts of delicious food and some interesting vendors not seen before at the market.

The market is on the East side of the Lake Worth bridge near the Lake Worth Casino. It's address is Lake Worth's Old Bridge Park, 1973 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33460

The market starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. And there are only two pop-up left this year on February 1st and March 1st 2017.

I hope to see you there.

UPDATE March 7th, 2017: The pop-up night market experiment period is over for Spring 2017.