Anatomy and Physiology Of Urban Farming in South Florida-Thinking Globally and Acting LOCALLY :One Garden at a Time! By Tony Dagher-BA Certified Florida Master Gardener .
The UN ( United Nations) has declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming) , and 2015 as “ The International Year of Soil.What does that mean? The UN declarations ,quotes respectively”: The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas. The goal of the 2014 IYFF is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development. The 2014 IYFF will promote broad discussion and cooperation at the national, regional and global levels to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers.” International Year of Soils 2015 - IYS 2015 “After two years of intensive work, 2015 has been declared the International Year of Soils by the 68th UN General Assembly (A/RES/68/232). The IYS aims to be a platform for raising awareness of the importance of soils for food security and essential eco-system functions. The objectives of the IYS are: to create full awareness of civil society and decision makers about the fundamental roles of soils for human’s life; to achieve full recognition of the prominent contributions of soils to food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development; to promote effective policies and actions for the sustainable management and protection of soil resources; to sensitize decision-makers about the need for robust investment in sustainable soil management activities aiming at healthy soils for different land users and population groups; to catalyze initiatives in connection with the SDG process and Post-2015 agenda; to advocate rapid enhancement of capacities and systems for soil information collection and monitoring at all levels (global, regional and national). “Unquote. Bringing all of the above into perspective on the ground will take a lot of work to be accomplished by both private and public sectors. In order to interpret the above on the ground , how can we translate virtual reality of gardening from Paper into the ground ??.What kind of GREEN ACTs in other words can we take to support Family Farming and protect THE EARTH’s SOIL? I would start personally: 1) As a fourth generation Urban Farmer with more than Twenty Years of Hands on experience as a grower in South Florida. 2) As an educator - certified Master gardener involved with more than Eight local Community Gardens and having assisted a significant number of South Florida Home owners /enthusiast gardeners , I would say :Start small from scratch . Learn then Apply ONE STEP AT A TIME! Gardening in the Tropics is different but not difficult. Do your home work first and be aware where to shop, what to shop, and whom to consult!!! A-Anatomy of an Organic Urban Garden in Tropical South Florida: When we talk anatomy we mean STRUCTURE.I like being simple, let’s start with :SOIL When I hear someone calling SOIL Dirt , I wonder what is on their MIND? April is the month we celebrate EARTH DAY.. So,I like to talk “dirt” I mean SOIL first and explain what does it mean ? The Latin word ” HUMUS” will be the best to borrow to explain the real meaning in English. Please do not confuse this word with HOMMOS my favorite dish from the Middle Eastern Cuisine! When people ask me where I come from I answer: From Mother EARTH ! We all come from EARTH and will end up where we came from: EARTH. We are the HUMUS-APIENS or in other words : INHABITANTS(APIENS) OF EARTH(HUMUS)!!! Now we are talking, EARTH not DIRT! Let us give RESPECT to our MOTHER EARTH by keeping the living soil unadulterated with pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other man made pollutants , you name them!. Soil in South Florida is mainly SAND. In order to garden one has to make sure what to plant according to the Tropical Climate Zone of South Florida. NEW and revised USDA Zone Map defines South Florida to be at the zone range from 10a to 11 (temp above 35 Fahrenhite). I personally make my own soil from scratch incorporating the following: Composted organic matter, composted aged and approved manure, spaghnum peat moss, organic amendments as needed, inorganic minerals amendment as needed and MOST of ALL beneficial soil micro-and macro organisms such as MELLIPEDES .A healthy soil makes healthy garden and crop. Rushing to buy ready made soil in bags has its dcons and pros. I prefer to make my own soil from scratch to save on spending money on spraying with organic pesticides /buying soil amendments and spending more on high garden maintenance. Challenges to S. Florida soil are unending besides the climate change we have to guard against: Nematodes , industrial, pharmaceutical chemical and bio- hazards dumped in land fills used as ground structures for home developments ,