We don't have typical spring flowers here in SW Florida, but for a short time in late March, we see glorious yellow blossoms on the tabebula trees all over the area. Just like the daffodils and tulips I remember from Oregon, these blossoms can be quite short-lived. A windy day can quickly blow every flower to the ground. We caught this tree at its peak while we were on a Farm Tour on Pine Island.
We visited three non-traditional farms on our tour. Our first stop, above, was Trafalgar Middle School's Garden in Cape Coral. These students and their teacher (in the middle photo) have made a huge success of their small farm built on a former football field. They have donated over 10 tons of vegetables and fruit to local soup kitchens. They also provide produce to their own school cafeteria and culinary arts classes. The teacher said that the students will try anything if they know it came from their own garden. What a win-win deal!
They grow garden crops including tomatoes, lettuce, a couple kinds of eggplant, collards, cucumbers, squash, beets, mustard greens, kale, parsnips, turnips, and cabbage. They have built a hydroponic garden for salad greens and herbs. They grow flowers which they donate to local nursing homes. Fruit trees include papayas, mangoes, persimmons, bananas, Barbados cherry, kumquat, limes, lemons, star fruit, moringa, avocado, jackfruit, and pomegranate.
The fruit trees were provided by FruitScapes, a tropical fruit farm that we also visited later in the tour, but where I got no good pictures.)
I got a little side-tracked during our lunch stop tour. Just had to take some pictures of this Osprey protecting his own fish meal. He's in a gumbo limbo tree in front of a barn roof. This tree is known as the "tourist tree" because it resembles the sunburned and peeling skin of tourists who forget their SPF protection while vacationing under the Florida sun.
A few of our friends and some perfect strangers who were on the bus tour with us -- not a great picture, but included to show that last Wednesday was a cold day for SW Florida. (With apologies to all of you 'up North' who actually had a second winter about the same time -- we caught the tail end of the March cold spell with day-time temperatures in the low 60s, which is chilly for us.)
Today, natural, raw, and local foods have become mainstream. Michael and Chris, who own and run the four-acre farm called Pine Island Botanicals, make a point of raising everything organically -- using no artificial fertilizers or sprays and not wasting anything. While Michael runs the outside gardens and hydroponic greenhouses, Chris (known as the Sprout Queen) has developed a business based on raw foods and juicing. Back in the day, I used to grow a few alfalfa sprouts in jars in our kitchen cupboard. But I'd never seen as many kinds of sprouted foods as Chris grew. It was fun to taste ... and kind of made me want to grow a few again myself (but only kind-of).
We learn a lot about the area where we spend part of our year.
And of course we do love to eat -- and so it's fun to learn about how our food is grown and about new foods to try.
Linking this week to these sharing sites, with thanks to all of the hosts.