This week we toured ECHO Farm. ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a non-profit Interdenominatinal Christian organization that exists to help those working with the poor to be more effective in the areas of agriculture, especially small farms in tropical areas.
ECHO has a 50-acre test farm located just across the street from where we live. They chose Ft. Myers for the farm because our tropical conditions are pretty close to the climates where the need is greatest.
We took the very informative guided tour. The whole farm here is for the purposes of teaching interns and visitors how to pass on farming knowedge to those working with the poor in various conditions. The more people who can practice small farm tropical agriculture the more poverty can be alleviated.
This picture is a Moringa Tree. The leaves of this tree are highly nutritional and medicinal. It grows well in poor soil conditions.
Vegetable gardens on the farm are planted in different spaces to replicate various conditions. For example: dry desert conditions, areas that flood periodically, and even heavily urban areas. Here are a couple of them.
This knobbly thing is a purple yam that our guide cut open. He said that the vegetable that we buy in supermarkets that is called a yam is really a type of sweet potato. The real yam grows in sandy soil. It looked like a rock.
Yup, this is a dandelion. As our guide pointed out it does NOT grow naturally in Florida. We don't garden any more, so we hadn't really thought about it, but now we realize we haven't seen a one. Of course, the leaves are nutritious and that's why they are growing it. Anyone who does still garden would love ECHO's bookstore which was full of gardening books and tools. And the money would go to this good cause._______________________________
We learned that ECHO offers a separate tour to show more of the farm machinery innovations they have created. Bill wants to take that tour one of these times.
Click on the link below to go to ECHO website to read more about the farm and their other activities, such as their seedbank, animal husbandry, and educational and volunteer opportunities.
It was an excellent tour.
There were a lot of flowers on the grounds. Most of them were doing double duty, such as marigolds and nasturtiums for insect control, and sunflowers for food value.
This one and a few others were just, as our guide said, "to feed the soul."