At forty-six...as I transition from City Girl to Farm Girl, I realize how little I actually knew about my surroundings and the things that help maintain me. After being unemployed and not finding work for a couple of years, I decided it was time to get myself busy and decided to volunteer. I joined Fertile Earth Foundation in the hopes that I would be able to make a difference somehow in the environmental movement. It never crossed my mind that the difference I would be making would be more of a personal nature.
When I met Lanette Sobel, co-founder of Fertile Earth Foundation, her enthusiasm and passion inspired me and I wanted to help, but help with what? I remember Lanette telling me “you can help us with our booth at Fairchild’s Edible Garden Festival.” I figured ok that’s easy enough, I can do that…until she told me we will educating people about composting, selling worm castings, worm tea and worms. Worms, What? “Yuck! I don’t do worms”, I told her and her reply was “Ah, but they are one of nature’s wonders.” I told her that’s great, but I still don’t do worms…gross! I helped her that weekend, but stayed clear of any worms. What I did see was the fascination in the faces of children when they held those slimy slithery creatures in their hands…gross.
In an effort to help me understand why worms, Lanette loaned me the book “Worms Eat My Garbage”. I had no idea that those tiny, slimy, slithery, gross creatures could produce so much richness for the world around us. The more I learned about them, the more I respected them. I still can’t touch them with my bare hands (my insides go wild) but it’s just a matter of time, since we are now producing worms, castings and tea at Fertile Earth Worm Farm and I have dubbed myself a worm farmer – trust me, I still can’t believe it.
Being a farmer and socializing with farmers has opened me up to this new/old world I never considered existed. I say considered, because I always knew it was there, I just never figured it was a part of my life. Silly me! When I needed food to nourish myself, I just went to the super market around the corner and picked up whatever tickled my fancy. I had no clue (ignorance is bliss) that there are growing seasons for different fruits and vegetables. I have always purchased what I wanted when I wanted it. And local…local what, why?
After living here for most of my life, I have learned that Florida is one of the largest agricultural states in our nation and yet the majority of produce here is from all over the world and not from our own backyard. Imagine that logic! Living in Hollywood and driving to Homestead on a regular basis I come across many growers who pitch a tent and table on Krome Avenue (S.W. 177th) to sell their just picked fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables have real flavor (reminds me of the fruits my great grandma use to give me when I was a child in Colombia), unlike the majority of fruits and vegetables I purchase at the store, which are tasteless. I did not know that large growers choose varieties based on how well it ships, pick the produce in its unripe stage, ripen them in a warehouse, and sell them at stores…no wonder there’s no taste.
Now, I look for local, local, local especially Local Farmer’s Markets, they pick a day or two before the market and the taste is incredible. In addition to having fresh produce, I am helping the local farmer which in turn helps the local economy. Funny how that works! No, I don’t find produce that is not in season, but that is one of the basics that I have learned…. Mother Nature give us watermelon in the summer months when we need hydration…the fruits and vegetables grown in Florida are in sync for the people who live in Florida and it’s the same for the rest of the world. “Nature is a wonderful thing.”
The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said “NO FARM, NO FOOD!” Just a little food for thought, LOL!
This farm girl still has a lot to learn and a lot of acceptance of the natural systems our world offers. I have just begun my journey and I have forty-six years of conventional thinking to amend. Will keep you posted on my findings in hopes that you will begin to embrace and understand nature as I am trying to.