Alternative Community Farmer/WPB.FL

  (WPB, Florida)
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South Florida new comer gardeners:Its the start of the Fall growing season.Its time to LEARN how to AVOID the most common commited garden mistakes"-Part II

HOWDY!! ! The fall growing season is HERE.. Are you ready???
How is your organic food garden doing???My garden is flourishing and bet it is doing better than yours!!!Just teasing you (lol).
 I started prep last September .The climate change and the economy are adding extra challenges ,and more are quitting to attend two jobs while the main JOB of Keeping our BODY/MIND/SPIRIT in Optimal Health to be able to carry out the bread and butter jobs are being compromised.that's why I am here to help you outsolving garden mysteries and DRAMA!
Lets play dirt and GONE GARDENING!!!!!No one likes to admit doing a mistake. Big Ego is hear..have no fear!!
Tony is here to share with you my dear garden enthusiasts ,S.Florida Garden  COMMON MISTAKE !
Avoid spending more money learning the EXPENSIVE way going it ALONE giving yourself the usual EXCUSE:I am going through the "Learning Curve!"
Well. I know a lot who have done so much damage to their body /mind/spirit working hard gardening the wrong way and ended up quitting prematurely!


Personally, I prefer to learn from my , and your ,mistakes .Believe me , I do garden mistakes too!I admit that I am not the PERFECT GARDENER!
The best way to LEARN with lesser pain and damages is to LISTEN ,Observe and Ask questions,  when in doubt ask the experts as they say!!!Here we go :

 Gardening Mistake No. 1: Starting Out a productive garden without taking a first hand ORIENTATION Theory and Hands On GARDENING CLASS on growing own local food in S.Florida.
Know before you Grow I sum it up in a nut shell. Which veggies/herbs etc are in season , locally  compatible with the Tropical agricultural zone ??It is Good to
Know before you Grow!
Welcome to South Florida garden : Now start learning  the Tropical Language of productive gardening in the TROPICS. Craving to grow UPNORTH cold zone  fruits and vegetables like apples and kale ??? Switch gear , instead, to S.Florida Natives like CALALOO,COLLARDS  vegetables , Papaya fruits and Cuban Oregano herbs!!!!We are not asking you to learn Spanish or Chinese, but rather simply to KNOW which are best to GROW !!To ask questions before you shoot and not the reverse! Check draught tolerant local native plants first!
Here in S.Florida gardening is  different but NOT  difficult! .Simply open up your learning channels and be open minded to learn without much emphasis on the EGO side!!Best is to consult with   a local harvest urban farmer near you, example: www.localharvest.org/farms/M20618

It’s difficult to resist those tempting photos and web sites of self proclaimed "farmers" who preach such jargon of being TRAINED under such and such farmer "celebrities/gurus" swearing by  PERMACULTURE and what have you to trap your wallet! Local farmers should present local certifications of Horticultural education for example: Certified Florida Master Gardeners are graduates from University of Florida Horticultural Extension Programs .They are a good source to consult LOCALLY!
 
Mistake number 2:. Planting too large a garden is a mistake that can place too heavy a BURDEN  on YOUR BODY/MIND/SPIRIT AND OFFCOURSE wallet! MEGA  gardens lead to frustration and burnout. Instead , start SMALLat the RIGHT :LOCATION .LOCATION . LOCATION. For God's sake do not plant a garden under a tree or in a flooding prone area or worse: Next to your animal farm ,letting loose chicken ,dogs and Horses harvest and trample on your vegies!!!

A better gardening strategy is to start small in the first year and plant only a few of your favorite veggies( I suggest you plant S.Florida natives and draught tolerant like everglades tomato, Florida Calalo Spinach ,papaya, collards ,Cuban oregano etc...). This will allow you more gardening success , less maintenance,and a greater feeling of accomplishment. In succeeding years, as practice builds your gardening skills, you can increase the size of your garden each planting season. Don,t forget to keep adding organic matter and garden amendments as you go like composted manures,blood meal etc..)

Gardening Mistake No. 3: Gardening in the SANDY and acidic , nematode infested ,depleted soil of your property!
Without good soil, no vegetable garden can thrive. Any preparation that the soil needs must be done before planting. Once those seeds begin to establish a root system, the soil cannot be disturbed without endangering the tender, young plants. The soil is best when prepared from COMPOSTED organic matter, composted permitted manure,mineral and nutritive rich organic ammendments like bone/bloodmeal etc.. 

Prepare the soil as early in SUMMER for the Fall growing season,using compost and organic matter plus necessary amendments as needed.. Let the soil rest for a little while then plant NITRIFICATION ground cover to boost the soil with nutrients such as Nitrogen. An example of nitrification plants: Sweat potatoes and beans!. Then you can plant your vegetable garden and watch it spring to life in the fall growing season starting October .

Gardening Mistake No. 4: The Use and abuse of Chemical pesticides and Fertilizers. I am not sure who is abusing who.???.Personally I switched to ORGANIC fertilizers such as Composted horse manure!!! I am not going to force you to do the same and your FREE choice will tell you which is best for you! Another reason why I switched to Organic fertilizers and Organic pesticides:
No one label will tell you when you buy your seedlings from a commercial nursery  or garden center about what is in the SOIL and what has been sprayed at the plant??Think about it, how could the plant at the store survive in such a container enduring  S.Florida excessive inclement weather with less maintenance??
The answer is the chemical fertilization of NPK 20-20-20.Your store bought plants are saturated with chemical fertilizers ,pesticides and God knows what of hormones and additives , to let them survive and endure  a long  shelf life at the garden store.You will start experiencing wilting and diseases once they are transformed into your backyard and suffer  diseases which compels you to go back and buy more fertilizers and pesticides to "TREAT" the plant. A vicious cycle of spending more money!!!.I am here to tell you : Grow your own seeds and seedlings and save on the vicious cycle!
 For example, all plants require nitrogen, and high-nitrogen fertilizer will produce vigorous top growth—which is what you want for leafy green vegetable . That same amount of nitrogen, however, will create such vigorous top growth that it can hold back ripening. Last but not least:
Recent studies have linked chemical fertilizers and pesticides to various kinds of cancers!!!Going and growing organic and spraying with organic pesticides like NEEM oil is the alternative!!!


Gardening Mistake No. 5: Xeriscaping and irrigation!
Plants need water to metabolize nutrients and grow, but different types of vegetable plants need different amounts of water. Too little water will cause plants to dry up and wilt. Once seriously wilted, most plants will not recover, even if watered, so do your best to keep your vegetable plants from wilting. Too much water can rot the root system, and only healthy roots can absorb nutrients from the soil and hold the plant upright. Once rot afflicts the root system, the plant is done for.

Most vegetable plants prefer a good, deep watering one to three times each week. If you water too shallowly, the roots will grow near the surface instead of downward to seek water.

If you don’t water your vegetable garden deeply and thoroughly, you might end up with shallow roots that cannot tolerate any drought at all.
My favorite watering system is Rain Water .One more thing you need in S.Florida when Gone Gardening: Learn more about Native plants .They are draught tolerant and require less maintenance. Remember that to plant the Right plant in the Right place. Meaning some plants that are water loving , plant them in areas prone to flooding and more  watering accessability.


Gardening Mistake No. 6:Correct planting techniques-know how .Its not a rocket scientist high tech procedure to know how to launch  a plant/seed/seedling into the soil.But use your common sense to avoid common mistakes of shallow or wrongful planting.KNow before you grow.In Florida the safest planting oerocedure of planting seeds is not direct into the soil but rather into a small container first .Most new comers from UP NORTH fall into the trap of planting directly into soil as if there is REALLY a GOOD SOIL (remember sandy and nematodes infesrted soil is the name of of the game !!).Still if you insist on planting direct into soil, then I suggest you follow the below suggestion:
In general, the larger the seed, the deeper it prefers to be planted. Seed packets offer information on the back about how deeply to plant the seeds. Pay attention to this information, because planting too deeply will cause seeds to fail to sprout or tire out the young seed sprout before it’s able to reach the surface and receive needed sunlight.

On the other hand, planting seeds at a too-shallow depth can cause the seed to dry out quickly and fail to sprout—or cause the young plant to dry out or fall over because of poor root growth. Some vegetable seeds, such as lettuce, actually need to be close enough to the soil surface that sunlight can touch them and trigger sprouting.

Gardening Mistake No 7: Planting Too Closely—and Not Thinning
If you plant your seeds or transplants too closely, you’ll create too much competition for the nutrients in sunlight, soil and water. Seed packet instructions include advice on plant spacing, but it’s tempting to ignore it because seeds seem so tiny when you’re planting a patch of bare soil. It’s difficult to imagine how much space the plants that sprout from those seeds will need once they start to grow.

Not every seed planted will germinate and not every sprout will survive, so it’s OK to plant seeds closer than the spacing needed by mature vegetable plants. It’s important to thin the patch or row when plants are a few inches tall, removing enough of the seedlings to make room for the remaining plants to grow. Many vegetable plant thinnings are edible — young carrots and greens are tender and delicious—so enjoy your thinnings in an early-spring salad. Vegetable plant thinnings also can be left on the soil around remaining plants to serve as light mulch.

Gardening Mistake No. 8: Letting Weeds Grow Unchecked.
The best time to pull a weeds is when they are tiny and the root system is small. Pulling weeds at that stage of growth won’t disrupt the roots of your vegetable plants.Another smart way to avoid weeds altogether is MULCH.

The longer you let a weed grow, the stronger a root system it will develop and the more nutrients it will steal from your vegetable plants. Keep weed growth to a minimum by mulching soil around your vegetable plants or disturbing the surface of the soil by regularly hoeing between your plants.

Gardening Mistake No. 9: Over mulching or is it  Under mulching!!???
Mulch is a good thing, but too much of a good thing usually isn’t good.Sounds like a puzzle of the chicken and egg which one came first?? Using MULCH with organic matter—like straw, dry leaves or grass clippings—helps keep weeds from sprouting, retains moisture in the soil, keeps the root zone cool and provides nutrients for the plants as the mulch decays. One counter indication for over mulching is that both plants and mulch will be competing for NITROGEN. So learn how to mulch with BALANCE adding more organic nitrogen rich matter the more you add mulch..

A light mulch is fine after planting, but don’t mulch too deeply or seed sprouts might not be able to push through into the sunlight. To retain soil moisture and discourage weeds, gently add more mulch as the plants grow. After mulching, draw the mulch back 1 inch or so from the stems of the young plants so it doesn’t create too much heat as it decomposes or trap dampness against the stem and cause rot.

Take special care when using green mulches like fresh grass clippings, as these materials produce heat while decomposing, which can harm the plant and even kill it. Green mulches are very rich in nitrogen, which they release as they decompose. This nitrogen boost will fuel top growth in vegetable plants, which you might not desire.


Common gardening mistake number 10: Garden Ergonomics- body garden work positions abuse!
Learn how to use your body in a safe way while at the garden. Put on proper garden gear. Hydrate and most important:
Learn garden ERGONOMICS.
This is the MOST COMMITTED MISTAKE NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR!...

Most gardeners and farmers abuse their body lifting, pulling, pushing, shoveling etc...the wrong way.What is the RIGHT way? Come to attend my ongoing classes and ask me .I will let you know.I am a certified Florida MassageTherapist as well,  and I specialize in"massaging my plants only"

A lot of gardening questions become common sense to a gardener after a few seasons of experience. There’s a lot to learn along the way. Thats why I got ONGOING GARDENING CLASSES!! When and where and how much??/Please click on the web site down below for a quick answer!Tell/bring a friend. Support a local farmer near you. Go GROW GREEN!

Happy gardening , with the compliments of ..

Your local Urban Farmer

Tony
 
 

S.Florida elementary school organic vegetable gardens .How professional,safe and challenging.??? Afield trip observation of a sample school X.

It was my first field trip today to offer observations and ideas from the point of view of an urban farmer with educational and experiential background.

My tour guide was a garden enthusiast mom who have a passion to help start productive gardens at schools .To start with she initiated a pilot program a year ago and tried in vain to gather support from local sources and resources .She contacted me and today we were at the school garden .

My observatuion at the first instance was spotting her child of six years old bear foot walking towards a red mulched terrain.I stopped to comment about how dangerous it is to expose children to chemuicals and syntheic dyes .Red dyed mulch has been studied exposing animals to tread on it and the results were a myriad cases of cancers etc..

I was told that there are no support from school districts that struggle with limited resources and cut budgets.Also it is haRD TO GATHER VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IN THE tropical FIELD OF ORGANIC GARDENING IN S.FLORIDA .SCIENCE tEACHERS OR VOLUNTEERS FROM ENVIRONMENT SCHOOL CLUBS OROM SCIENCE usually fill in the vaccant positions and classes tend to focus on indoor and scientific aspects of gardening while the REAL GARDEN is set to look nice with the help of landscaping companies that rush to use fertilizers and dyed mulch and ornamentals and lawns etc..

That garden looked tiny and the only garden  "plants" were  a struggling tomato next to a cactus and papaya tree  .The horticultural laws of XERISCAPING was so obviously violated.Cactus with SPIKES and THORNS planted in an elementary  school garden next to each others !!!!!

Do not ask me more about the raised beds that were at the same level with the lawn grass !!"I H ave tried to grow and nothing comes out" was my tour guide comment."I want your help", she continued.

My heart jumped at the sincere passion expressed.I remembered all those years I have spent tending to a series of community gardens that went dormant one after another due to lack of funds,support from both local public and private entities.Politics ,opportunists ,job seekers who are not experienced enough or educated enough to maintain or manage a school organic garden and many other reasons yet to be discovered  ...usually  take hold of and the result a failed garden and loss of funds and resources.Who is to blame? I beleive those who are at the recruitment posts should be held accountable because their IGNORANCE or LACK of PRODUCTIVE GARDENNING education or experience is the culprit.So we end up with GREEN WASH culture.

 

Hopefullyh someone there who reads articles of feedback about our school gardens might notice that there must be a different approach to educate our children how to grow food by EXPERIENCED and EDUCATED organic HORTICULTURIST.

There are so much rules and regulations and red tape that will take so long to move on a school productive garden.There so much lack of experiencd LOCAL horticulturists or organic urban farmers to be found.Most quit and give up after so many VOLUNTEERING years while those OFFICE STAFF who hire them remain for years and years reaping high profile salaries and suck out the budget funds on administration overheads while productive school gardens keep on shrinking in size and productivity to say the least...or shall we say desist to exist??

 

I am positive that there are successful school gardens out there but we need more sources,support and more volunteers with passion like my garden friend who also should be rewarded with pay.

 
 

Nature as a" THERAPY..According to a recent scientific study"

This is another day gone in the countdown ,before we celebrate Christmass and the New Year Eve..For some ,another day is another dollar and for ALL of us  another drama ,like the shooting of school children yesterday in Connecticut..

When will we learn our lessons on violance? Preventing and fighting violance by NON-Violance programs like going back to nature gardening bringing more of our stressed out lives into NATURE?

 

Here is a recent study that links exposure to nature can replenish our cognitive reserves when they are worn out.How many of us feel tired and worn out these days especially with an ecconomy that is driving people out of their homes and minds?From bankruptcies to suicide and rampage massacres..(not to mention  wars  ..another form of legal and accepted violence according to some !)

Exposure to nature now is catching our eye ..Did we forget the Emmerson books on nature and Thourou's?WE tend to forget as gardeners and farmers that our bliss is not in the "Green Bucks" that we make but reather in the "GREEN Crops" that we create and harvest!

Back to nature is back to the life in Nature .Back to the garden and the farm.Back to the "Open front yard" rather than the "Fenced backyard".

Technology and gadgets are now running our lives .Shall we spend our life enjoying a virtual security which is actually ruinning  instead of running it!!!!?

Check this recent study to find out more about the Nature effect on boosting brain health...and power!!

http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-nature-recharges-creativity-study-20121212,0,2375233.story

I have been interviewd in 2008  by a local newspaper and in that interview I documented the reality :"Therapy Grows in a Garden"...There is nothing new under the sun.What is new is our own awareness:How long will it take us to understand that There is a Flower Power and a Therapy out their in Nature.One  just has to BELEIVE and Be Live IT!

Another day before we celebrate christmass and new year eve..May year days be all merry and full of CHEAR!!!Go garden!

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Fighting GLOBAL WARMING locally here in S.Florida. THE CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE :How can you be THE SOLUTION?

How does climate change affect agriculture ?

 

Read how the draught is affecting 14 states from a recennt NYT and MSNBC reports :

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43718212/ns/us_news-the_new_york_times/v

Simply speaking , I can relate to you what is happening from my observations as an urban farmer here in S.Florida.

We are on Water Restrictions  extreme draught D$.Meaning that watering is allowed once a week in most of PBC.

Even though we started getting some rain releif lately, the Okeechobee lake is still below acceptable average level by two feet.

 

A friend of mine who owns a nherb farm is suffering dramatically as she has no water to irrigate her plants from the nearby canal .

The good news is that people are starting to take the situation seriously and save on water consumpyion.

The best bet is educating the public not punish their pockets in the beginning.

More people are feeling the heat in their wallets as the produce na dfood items prices move up.There is a trend to start growing their own food in backyards .I teach classes on organic gardening and my last class was fascilitated at the City of Lake Worth.The city is pioneering a Compost program .I am volunteering to teech composting and the class is for FREE.

 

More details at The Natural Awakening PBC Magazine and my event box @:

localharvest.org/farms/M20618

 

Education makes a difference.

 

 

 
 

E-Coli and Food Scare in Europe any different from US?

There are so much politics going on to control the FOOD CHAIN production especially the organic food.

Instead of focusing on regulating the genetically modified organism(GMO) , the direction is going to the opposite side .

Here is a self esxplanatory video about the behind the scenes news that pop up every now and then to scare the hell of us:

 

http://www.youtube.com/organicconsumer#p/f/1/FCK0MTS4mvI

Small organic farmers are now on the rise nationally and they can be of an influential group to loby against GMO at the capitol and beyond.There are elections coming up next year, so why not start the process of spreading the awareness about who must run our food chain and who must not be in charge to ruin it.You decide.Your vote counts.Speak up and stand up for a NON_GMO  food .Let the GMO labeling bells ring.

 
 

Fighting GLOBAL WARMING locally here in S.Florida. THE CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECTS ON AGRICULTURE :How can you be THE SOLUTION?

How does climate change affect agriculture ?

Simply speaking , I can relate to you what is happening from my observations as an urban farmer here in S.Florida.

 

The coconut palm trees stopped producing as much  coconuts for the last three years .As a matter of fact I can relate a story of an acquaintance who has lost most of his coconut  grove .

The citrus trees has been reduced by a Canker disease that fell down so many healthy and unhealthy trees .There are so many home owners who are now collecting  money for the  WRONG cutting of their healthy citrus trees .How about those who made the WRONG  decision to cut the treas?

Are they  still keep their jobs!?

 

Cutting a tree and its effects on the climate warming..who does not know that trees absorb CO2? Still trees are being cut right and left..Ask why we are having draughts , floods hurricanes and tsunamees?

Take the RAIN FOREST for example.Why is it called so?

Forests attract rain..It is so simple.Trees absorb carbon emissions and release oxygen.Is it legal to cut trees ?Here is a story which answers the question:

I heard in the news  about some local activists who tried to show their support  by climbing and camping  on top of them to attract PUBLIC NOTICE in a DRAMATIC way!!!! I mean this is an exagertion kind of "support our trees" campaign by camping on them!!!.Consequently ,they were arrested and the trees were cut down!!!What!!!!!

 

The EARTH needs more trees PLANTED not cut down..In Switzerland , there is a LAW against cutting down vegetation haphazardly!How about here?Well , some good news are coming up.

 

A small town in S.Florida is leading by example .Lake Worth has a COMPOSTING PROGRAM going on.Residents who wish to attend the  FREE workshops on composting , receive compost bins at reduced discounted prices through rebates.

Those are good news and solutions to combat the global warming LOCALLY.Imagine more cities follow through Lake Worth example of COMPOSTING and RECYCLING our trash into the garden rather than to the Garbage BIN!!! 

As the heat builds up , changing green  grass to  brown .

As the rain falls short and the rivers flood town.

We show  " green  thumbs up ..(and the4  brown thumb down)

Some good news to cheer u up...(and stop that dumb moan):

 

 http://www.earthman.tv/2004/forums/index.php?showtopic=120 

 
 

How to apply Feng Shui to the Organic Productive Garden

The Chinese introduced Feng Shui while the Japanese introduced REI -CHI pronounced as REIKI.

Both are towards alignment and balance of the CHI , the latter for BEINGS and the former for OBJECTS .Gardening is a Therapy as used in Japan .Touch is a Therapy as used by TWIN-NA and TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE.in China .Both are meant to align the CHI and bring in balance.

 

The native Americans speak of the four elements of creation:Water,Air,Earth and Fire.The chinese added to them Metal.

The ancient Greek s introduced to us Hippocretes the father of Medicine:He said:Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.The greeks like the Chinese and the Native Americans gathered herbs and harvested food from the wilderness and back yard gardens.Where are we now?

Happy Feng Shui Gardening!

 

To learn more about Organic Gardening :Come to my Classes .Schedules @:localharvest.org/farms/M20618

Check out coming events box.

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ORGANIC GARDENING CLASSES ...and how to implement them in REAL LIFE..A Feed back from an EXPERIENCED Urban Farmer/Educator.

There are tons of materials on line ,in book prints and in the air competing for creating aan organic garden near your kitchen.The economy is hurting both pocket and bellys.So people are now flooding classes to learn.There are not so many choices thougth...to IMPLEMENT WHAT YOU LEARN ON THE GROUND!

 

There are so many ways to make money out of Organics these days.I have seen people who are devotees of fertilizers and chemicals turn GREEN ORGANIC overnight because their thumb is so GREEN WITH COUNTING GREEN BUCKS!So many of us get caught in the jargon and the traps of making a dollar no matter how or what!

A student came to my class one time and recalled the huge amount of money she had to spend and end up learning not much because there was no HANDS ON attachment to the FINE WORDS printed and nicely arranged in the texts she had to buy !

"You know them by their fruits"...is not the same asYou know them buy their fruits.. 

Yesterday also  I met a student  "X" .She is a Doctor of Medicine who enjoys gardening and wants to learn ..

She even  took Horticultural college classes and spent time and money ..but she was still failing the actual garden CROPS.."experience is so necessary "SHE TOLD ME ...WHILE JOTTING DOWN MY down to earth tips THAT I HAVE EXPERIENCED WHILE DIGGING ,PLANTING,HARVESTING,STUDYING,APPLYING,EXPERIMENTING, MAKING MY HANDS AND CLOTHES DIRTY WORKING IN THE SIZZLING SUN OF FLORIDA!

I felt so good when someone like Mrs"X" comes to my classes -not  to try me .or spy on me..or copy me ..or even cheat me by sliding out the door without an appreciation tip or donation that supports buying seeds to my community garden .

Getting something for nothing  !!! How many of us try to TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OTHERS WORK BY BEING CHEAP and OPPORTUNISTIC? I really do not know how many?Do you?.

Thats why we have KARMA as a pay back for what we DO TO OTHERS!. 

She "Mrs.X" was there to learn and even wanted to come back with her husband for the next class..Applied Gardening makes a POINT .Doing is the way of Gardening.So my friends...you know them by their thumbs that are tough and dirty..from their costumes that are fashioned with the garden sweat and their skin that is colored by the blazing sun of Florida.

 

There are so many people rushing to the new GREEN GOLD ..but they are missing one thing:EXPERIENCE.

 

Happy Organic Gardening 

 


 

 

 

 
 

Solving the HOMELESS DILEMMA:GET THEM TO WORK IN FARMS and COMMUNITY GARDENS !

I had the opportunity to see and witness on site how a homeless group took advantage of a group -of churches -that was trying to help by providing them food , access to their center and  offered them many other services  as well  .All of them were  white ,middle age men and women and had addictions ranging from alcohol to drugs .

They robbed the place.I got robbed too.The Sheriff was called in finally after the situation went out of control.

Criminal behavior flourishes with NO WORK, drug,alchohol,smoking addictions  .Most of the homeless are pan handlers.  I  tried to let one help out in the garden picking pine tree cones prior to mowing the area ,after  stalking  and asking me for money,he showed resistance for work and took off abruptly , with some of my personal belongings gone as well .

He simply did not show any inclinations to physical  work  after so many years of easy access for food stamps, church food  offered in an A/C and recreation center  comfortable setting (and offcourse free accomodations in the woods)..He once  told me that he saw another homeless stealing a bicycle and did neither  stop or report him.They have a brotherhood like affiliation to  protect each others .They do not like police either.They beleive in taking the law into their own hands.He himself carried a weapon in his bag(he showed me a BIG knife which really scared and intimidated me).

While at the garden he complained to me that his helongings were thrown away into the canal by another homeless guy whom he said he knew and was going to get revenge .I tried to remind him about how we need to forgive each others .He said he only beleives in the eye for an eye law.

Simply , they were fed for free.Most of them also had access for food stamps.The money they pan handled- or laid hands on- went to buy beer,  cigarettes and other illegal stuff to feed their addictions.There was no program on hand by then  to rehabilitate them.Most had criminal records

One time ago a  man ,who lived in  a  neglected neighborhood where once I kept a community garden,came to me  complaining about his wife who keeps giving him hard time and harasing him at home so he ends up beating her, then she calls the police and he ends up in jail.

I suggested that he comes to me next time she gives him hard time without beating her.He did.I assigned a plot for him to grow vegetables and provided the seeds.The situation changed after he was given a plot to tend and retreat from a domestic argument. Instead of beating his wife he simply took his frustrations off by digging , weeding and spending time at the garden.The criminal behavior was gone .So,if we can provide similar PRODUCTIVE GARDENING opportunities for the homeless to work- under guidance and supervision of a rehabilitation program- in community gardens to produce their own ORGANIC food and eat healthy diets instead of all the junk food and other intoxicating addictives, their life style could change for the better.

There are so many empty lots that could be transformed into productive gardens.There are so many churches , other private non-profit and government   organizations  with lands donated or available to them or are sitting idle.Why not start programs of PLACING the homeless into work  at community gardens and get them  trained on farming jobs to heal their addictions first and then let them work at farms to replace the illegal immigrants who soon will be going back home once the ARIZONA LAW becomes nationally applied!

Gardening is a proven therapy in Japan and Sweden.At least we can try to bring the homeless and the gardens meet and see what happens .Idle hands of homeless men and women plus addictions  make criminal behavior possible.Busy productive  hands , in the garden make, ORGANIC  harvests flourish and crimes vanish.Give it a try!


 

 
 

Have you wondered what kind of toxic chemicals are in your well water or your backyard veggies?Check out alleged cancer clusters and toxic wonderlandfills from the Acreage in Florida

Welcome to Florida .Now if you live in the Acreage, start testing your well water before you drink it or use it to irrigate  your vegetable garden!The story of cancer cluster now is going to a tv near you  after a national  coverage that was hosted lately by  Oprah concerning the Cancer Clusters here in the Acreage ,Florida.More info  at the  Palm Beach Post article by John Antigua . I qoute excerpts from The Palm Beach Post article of John Antigua on Sunday March 7, 2010 for quick reference.To read the whole Front page article please go to link:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/anxiety-in-the-acreage-aver-demolition-fill-with-325946.html

Qoute :"Anxiety in The Acreage over demolition fill with little public safety monitoring

 RSM or
Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post
Sun Recycling plant, 6911 Wallis Road.

— For years, Joe Gagne worried about the fill he saw dumped on properties around his in The Acreage.

A veteran of the solid waste disposal business, Gagne would stop his car and run his fingers through the material being hauled in, dump truck after dump truck. Used to build up low-lying properties, it was mostly soil. But in it he found nails, screws, wallboard, wood, plastic, glass, insulation and Styrofoam.

Gagne knew the fill came largely from demolition and construction sites, and he had concerns. But the stuff didn't appear to be doing any harm and he didn't make waves.

Then last year he learned that an unusual number of local children had been diagnosed with brain tumors. Gagne, who has a 13-year-old daughter, attended a public meeting. While most residents voiced concerns about the well water, he raised his fears about the fill.

"At first I kept my mouth shut," he says, "but now it's gotten personal."

He wasn't alone. At another meeting, surveyor Ken Osborne, also of The Acreage, held up a plastic bag brimming with fill.

"I own a tractor and a neighbor who bought this fill hired me to spread it for him," Osborne later said. "After a while the tractor got a flat tire. I fixed it and it got another flat tire. I got out and started running my hands through this stuff and it was full of all kinds of junk. At one point I found a crushed hypodermic needle.

"I told him and I told my neighbors around here that I wouldn't put that stuff down," Osborne recalls. "It's insane to have that stuff around any water supply, and we all use well water."

County officials have tested soil at school sites in The Acreage and have not reported any connection between it and the cancer cluster. State investigators are now processing soil samples from 150 sites in The Acreage, including some taken from homes where children have been afflicted with cancer. Results are expected in April.

Comprehensive testing of fill for an extensive number of contaminants — known as baseline testing — is done infrequently, sometimes not for several years. It is usually conducted when the kind of material being processed changes significantly.

Testing for specific "chemicals of concern" identified by the state is done more frequently, on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, depending on the number of tons produced by a facility.

Those chemicals include arsenic, chromium, cadmium, copper, lead and nickel. The first three, if distributed above accepted limits, may cause cancer.

The lab reports must be made available to inspectors. The company also must also keep thorough records of where recovered screen material is dumped. No RSM can be deposited in a body of water, including wetlands.

The DEP delegates an institution in each county to monitor the companies and review test results. In Palm Beach, it is the county health department.

Laxmana Tallam, air and solid waste supervisor for the county's division of environmental public health, says the county reviews RSM records three times per year and has never issued a violation to Sun Recycling regarding its RSM distribution.

The company has not done as well in Broward, where the county's department of environmental protection is the watchdog. Starting in 2001, Sun has received 20 notices of violation, many of them involving RSM deposited on dozens of separate properties.

The violations were for distributing RSM without approval; processing painted and pressure-treated wood, which can produce high levels of arsenic; depositing RSM in a regulated aquatic area or wetland without a permit; not documenting RSM deliveries; and distributing RSM in which pieces of plastic, wood and metal exceeded the permitted size. Some of those violations involved waste that was produced in Broward but dumped in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Loxahatchee." Unqoute

Now , we come back to the backyards where most  non suspecting gardeners take it for granted to grow their veggies on what is there in their yard .REALLY!Just do not do it!Check out what is in your back /front yard soils first .Double dig for debris and demolition fill contaminated with pcb,heavy metals,chemicals or whatever ..just dig first and extract any contaminants before you plant.

We have areas that are prone for flooding so make sure to use rised beds and for more safety precautions :Make your own organic soil.The secret is :COMPOST.COMPOST.COMPOST.

We have learned our lessons from using store bought ready made soil ,some of which contain sludge or  chemical fertilizers . Now is the time to recycle your own kitchen scrap and yard vegetations etc..

Composting saves on your wallet ,on the environment and on your health.You can do it.

Come to our  on going saturday classes ,if you need help on Organic Gardening in the TROPICS.It is different but not difficult.

To learn more:Visit our blog and web link at :

http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M20618

 
 

Growing ORGANIC herbs in containers:ISSUES AND SOLUTIONS!

I am on the move again and my yard is full of herbs and veggies grown in containers.The first thing that comes to mind about growing herbs in S.Florida is where shall I find a place to grow them? Most peolpe now are having their home forclosed and lost to the bailed banks .So , why not grow whatever herbs you like in containers.Containers are not subject to foreclosures and they can be saved by just moving them out with you!

There is a word for the wise:Avoid growing herbs and veggies in PLASTIC CONTAINERS.They are loaded with a chemical called BISHPENOL A.The vegetables and herbs grown in plastic containers get also PLASTICIDES and chemicals used in the plastic containers are usually derivatives from the petrochemical industry.So, when you go to the garden center and buy ORGANIC herbs or plants grown in PLASTIC CONTAINERS be aware of the fact that there are hormone supressors that may influence and compromise  your endocrine system.There is a study about a weed control chemical called ATRAZINE that has been released lately as reported by a blogger at local harvest.org ref the below link:

http://.localharvest.org/blog/28378/entry/atrazine_and_other_endocrine_interruptors

Weeds are another name for HERBS. I grow the foillowing weeds or HERBS in my ORGANIC containers that atre mostly made of brick stones and ceramics.Even the PLASTIC containers can be modified to adjust to the natural way .I usually insulate the root system of my herbs that I grow in plastic containers by surrounding the inner plastic linning of the container with a sheet of natural cork or any ORGANIC material like unbleached natural paper/leaves/cloth..be creative and avoid the plastic contact with the root system.

My experience in growing herbs in containers in Florida especially in the sub-tropical zone 9-10 is : Most herbs love the heat especially :Basil,parsely,mint,rosemary,culantro,aloe vera,lavender,sage and more.This is the best time to plant the seeds for the summer herb container garden.

Herbs are like humans , they come from different geographical and topographical regions.some originate in cold regions  example: dandelion and comfrey.Others originate from sizzling deserts and tropical climates like aloe vera.

When preparing for the HERB CONTAINER garden take this into consideration.Pay attention to where the herbs come from and try to make them happy in their new home that should mimick their original one.Say that you want to grow dandelion for example.Dandelion  favors soil rich in organic matter and wood.Notice that it grows close to tree trunks!So mimick this environment and you will have a successful harvest! ROSE MARY AND ALOE VERA FAVOR  WARM SANDY AND ROCKY SOIL SO PLANT THEM IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT MIMICKS THEIR ORIGINAL HOME!

ONE MORE IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER:Herbs are different than vegetables.So treat them differently.Their soil should be rich in minerals hweras the vegetable soil must be rich in nitrogen and other organic matter.

Hrebs work in the human body as medicine .sO USE THEM SPARINGLY AND LESS !vEGETABLES NOURISH THE BODY AND FRUITS PURGE IT.

HAPPY hERB CONTAINER GARDENING!

More @localharvest.org/farms/M20618

 
 

Humanitarian aid to Haiti EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS..Please HELP.

As an Urban Farmer who lives in Florida , I have closely been in touch with Haitians who by nature are farmers and keepers of the land.Their country has witnessed a davastating  earthquake 7 Reichter magnitude and there are plenty of room for receiving aid and help.President Obama has given priority in sending quick releif and we as farmers need to join the releif effort even by sending leftovers from our crops or clothes canned food and bottled water in case money was short to send.It could have happened to us here in Florida.Haiti is not that far anyway.This is the moment where we humans find it relevant to do THE RIGHT THING to our neighbours in Haiti.What we do to others will tell the world who we are.
 
 

Understanding the CONCEPT of COMMUNITY ORGANIC GARDENING in the TROPICS!ACTUALLY NOT VIRTUALLY!

Welcome to the TROPICS.Now start TO LEARN SPANISH-CREOLE-CARIBEAN and HOW TO ADAPT to the TROPICAL HEAT!Are you kidding me?Most people who want to start a garden think about HIRING a MIGRANT FARMER to do the DONKEY DIRT work while they only want to eat the fruits and veggies, no sweat included!

We need to UNDERSTAND and be AWARE of the following BASIC CONCEPTS before we break grounds:

1-Organic Gardening in the TROPICS is not same as Organic Gardening UP-NORTH.The following variables and differentials must be accounted for before we embark on the endeavor:

a-We must accept the fact that there is going to be heat and sweat and dirt on our hands and clothes.Being a partner WITH OTHERS AND THE earth IS GREAT, BEING a spectator or supervisor is not enough!

b-We need to shift awareness gears from  COLD North to Hot South .Meaning , we must get out of the AIR-Condition comfort Zone first and get our body used to theOUTDOORS TROPICAL CLIMATE.

c-CONSIDER:Breathing exercises , ergonomics lessons on how to use the body in performing garden work without injuries.Also  procure ergonomical garden tools too!Reading a gardening book or taking a virtual class via THE INTERNET OR THE PHONE are not enough.One must have HANDS ON LEARNING  EXPERIENCE !Look for local small farmers who offer HANDS ON GARDENING  workshops not just THEORIES VIA CYBERSPACE or TELECONFERENCE!You must be in the GARDEN to learn about GARDENING!

d-In order to learn the way of COMMUNITY ORGANIC GARDENING  you must toss away your EGO.Instead you need to start thinking in the WE-GO way! We come in UNITY in the community concept.If you do take issues with people of color or tan or of those who speak another language which you do not understand,get over it!Learning means you need to have an open mind and a desire to learn even if it takes to listen .Diversity is the common grounds in the community garden!

e-All MEN AND WOMEN are created equal.So ,FORGET ABOUT BEING THE BOSS OR THE FIRST IN COMMAND !LEARN INSTAED TO EMPLOY your hands without working your mouth with profanity or your mind with prejuidice in case you are a chovanist or consider yourself of a better race.Accepting others is very important in the community garden for a simple reason: You are a member of the community garden with other human beings who share with you equally the rights and duties . 

F-HERE IN SOUTH FLORIDA WE HAVE sand NOT soil .sO, START THINKING ABOUT MAKING YOUR OWN COMPOST AND LEARNING THE KNOW HOW OF MAKING YOUR OWN SOIL!THERE ARE OPTIONS OF BUYING OR USING OTHERS PREPARED SOIL .BE EDUCATED ABOUT THE SOIL YOU WANT BECAUSE WHAT 'S IN IT  MIGHT HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON  YOUR HEALTH !(EX:HEAVY METALS-CHEMICALS-PHARMACEUTICALS -UNSAFE OR UNCERTIFIED  HUMAN SLUDGE  ETC)!

2-Once a plan is drafted to start a community garden, the following must be established :

a-A DOING IT TEAM versus a TALK ABOUT IT TEAM!

b-A BUDGET-A NAME-A CO-ORDINATOR-A PLOT FOR EACH MEMBER.

c-A RULES AND REGULATIONS PROTOCOL with  pertinent CONTRACTS and AGREEMENTS .

3-Classes and workshops to educate the members are essential.An experienced LOCAL ORGANIC FARMER with certification from a local Horticultural institute is commendable to fascilitate the LEARNING PROCESS.

4-COMMUNITY GARDENING is a NEW  working arena and a learning process.It is afterall a collective endeavor that needs to focus on the group and not on the INDIVIDUAL only!Here in the South , we had slaves assigned to the plantations work in earlier  15th-19th centuries ,and now we hire migrant farmers while we ourselves disdain doing this kind of MENIAL work and have NO RESPECT in general for people who do it! This ATTITUDE needs to change if we want to have a successful PRODUCTIVE COMMUNITY GARDEN!

5-There ARE LOTS OF vacant plots THAT CAN BE TRANSFORMED INTO COMMUNITY GARDENS HERE IN SOUTH FLORIDA.THERE ARE LOTS OF ATTEMPTS THAT ENDED UP IN FAILURE BECAUSE THERE WAS A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING AND AWARENES OF COMMUNITY CONCEPT AND OTHER  CULTURAL-FINANCIAL ISSUES ETC!!

 
 

Building and enhancing the community resources brick by brick the Brickman'sand Lake Worth Resource Center WAY!A lesson on how a local Landscaping business and a local Volunteer oriented Mentoring Center join hands to help out the community by DOING !

Lake Woth ,Florida.

Reported by :Blogger Tony Dagher  BA,CFMG

The sun was shining in another  beautiful fall Florida day.

There was Ms.Taylor ,a  photographer from the Palm Beach Post and another camera man from a local TV -channel 5-snapping shots and interviews  respectively !.I was there  reporting and interviewing for my Local Harvest blog alongside  with the media.Why not having farmers reportes ..to touch base with reality from an urban farmers perspective.I felt proud  taking part  in  another  COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER event.

There,I was  witnessing something different which  rarely catches the eye of the common observer:A landscaping  crew of  managers -regional-operational-adminstrative and more office STAFF -in addition to arborists,technicians,trainers-sweating in the sizzling Florida sun with hands and shirts covered with dirt and mulch.

They were  mostly white colar staff DOING some LABOR INTENSIVE PHYSICAL WORK  by volunteering at the Lake Worth Resource Center .Tell me about farming and gardening being a trade for the under paid and overworked , a job looked at as demeaning by some!May be it is the right time now to introduce URBAN FARMING in our school programs for the general public as something to be PROUD OF:GROWING YOUR OWN ORGANIC FOOD LOCALLY!

They were  beautifying the city of Lake Worth by planting their donated trees,ornamental shrubs and flowers,and spreading environmentally friendly Melaluca mulch at the LWRC.ALL DONE FOR FREE!THAT IS UNCONDITIONAL COMMUNITY LOVE IN ACTION!

They were  giving demonstrations on using equipment and TRAINING the Lake Worth Resource Center job seekers for careers in landscaping.

The Trainees were mostly Hispanic non-documented migrant workers.But there were others who are documented citizens who came to learn as well.They were being taught HOW TO: Operate landscaping equipmen,applying safety gear, spray, mulch etc.

Just finished ,was  an indoor multi media Brickmans University  power point presentation fascilitated by  M/S Katerina Albertson the director of employee development ,assisted by Boca Raton operational manager Mr.Martin Tapia . Among other important things,we learned about the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES OF MOWING:

1-BRING IN BIG MACHINES FIRST.

2-USE NON-EXCESSIVE WEEDING

3-KEEP THE GRASS IN THE GRASS ,NOT ON THE SIDE WALK.

Brickman group was celebrating the Founder's Day by volunteering and giving back to the community.

As in today,back in 1939 ,Mr Theodore Brickman founded the company with head quarters in GAETHERSBURG-MARYLAND.Today the Family owned and operated company ,a home for more than 10,000 employees nation wide ,is headed by grandson and CEO SCOTT BRICKMAN.

This community celebration by reaching out and giving back should be a LESSON to all.Present was   a crowd of more than 100 volunteers , jobseekers ,company satff and officials  spearheaded by Brickman regional manager Mr.Mark Swanson,Lake Worth  Commissioner Susan Mulvehill , LWRC president and directors Lisa and Don Wilson,and Brickmans WPB branch manager Mr.Brendan Dooley .Let us give a hand and volunteer .Let us celebrate by beautifying and enriching our community.Let us news report the POSITIVE and spread more awareness aboutPRODUCTIVE  HORTICULTURE .

For more info about the LWRC visit :

http://www.thementoringctr.org

Fotr more information about Brickman ,visit:

http://www.brickmangroup

For more info about our blog visit:

http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M20618

 
 

THE GROWING SEASON IS ON IN S.FLORIDA.NEED HELP ?JUST GIVE US A BUZ!

Welcome to the growing season in S.Florida.Now , we will experience a flood of now birds looking for organic vegetables to buy LOCALLY so they head to the green market or farmer market in hopes of getting some.Guess what?No local farmers are found ?Why? Because the farms were gone long time ago as the developers took over .Now the trend is to grow organic veggies in the  home backyards,community gardens ,school and church yards .Most people have no clue about Organic gardening here because there are not many  programs available to the public in general.

I give workshops and classes upon request  to groups who live close by.The first thing to know is HOW MUCH OF:

1)Time you have to spend gardening?

2)Budget to spend on the garden?

3)Space you intend to use for gardening?

Profesional help is important to know before you grow.

 
 
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