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Chestnut Hill Nursery Donates $500 worth of plants!

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Chestnut Hill Tree Farm is donating $500 worth of fruit and berry trees for us to plant at Porters Community Farm! They’re donating pomegranate, peach, nectarine, apple, fig, blueberry and blackberry plants. Travis will be installing our beautiful new trees this coming Wednesday, November 28th. THANK YOU Chestnut Hill!!! 

Visit Chestnut Hill Tree Farm on their website or on Facebook to learn more about their fruit and nut trees. 

If you’d like to help plant the trees, join Travis from 9:00am, to 1:00pm at Porters Community Farm. You can RSVP through the Facebook event posting here>>


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Alert – Alachua County, Possible Mosquito Spray

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***** ALERT – Alachua County *****

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has been informed that a possible mosquito spray is likely to occur in Alachua County soon.

Farmers and gardeners who are certified organic , in transition to organic, or use sustainable, pesticide-free techniques should contact FOG with your address and acreage or geographical coordinates. We are setting up a database that will be provided to the company spraying so that they can avoid your property.

Please provide this information ASAP if you want to get on the do not spray list. Call FOG at 352-377-6345 or email




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GrowFest! in Redland Florida!

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South Florida, this one’s for you!

If you’ll be in the Miami area on the weekend of October 13-14, don’t miss the first ever Redland GrowFest! Come celebrate organic farming from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Saturday and Sunday at the Redland Fruit & Spice Park, located at 24801 SW 187th Avenue in Redland, Florida, on the corner of Coconut Palm Drive & Redland Road.

GrowFest! 2012 is about connecting the dots between the farm or garden and the dinner table. The goal of the event is to engage and encourage gardeners. Attendees should expect to develop the skills needed to grow their own food,  as well as gain a better appreciation for what it takes for our farmers to produce food on a commercial scale.



Start your gardens!

Farmer Margie Pikarsky, Bee Heaven Farm

Get your seedlings, fruit trees and companion plants. Bee Heaven Farm will have over 80 varieties of heirloom tomato seedlings, several varieties of eggplant, hot peppers, basil, arugula, chard, kale, Asian greens and perennial herbs like garlic chives, curryleaf, and lemongrass. Other vendors will have fruit trees, native and companion plants to promote beneficial insect habitat. Gardening supplies will also be available for sale. Due to the generosity of the Urban Oasis Project and the Wholesome Wave Foundation, double-value coupons will be available for EBT customers. This is great news for EBT customers, whose dollars will buy twice as many veggie seeds and seedlings. Let’s get those gardens growing!

Questions about growing?

Whether you’re a backyard gardener, an urban farmer, or a small or large-scale farmer, we’ll have answers for you! UF/Miami-Dade County Extension agents will be on-hand to give presentations and demos throughout the weekend. Special emphasis will be placed on organic and environmentally friendly practices in subtropical climates.

“What’s Organic About Organic?”

The documentary film “What’s Organic About Organic?” will be featured in the classroom building, along with other presentations and demos by Florida Organic Growers & Consumers, Inc.

WHAT’S ORGANIC ABOUT “ORGANIC?” delves into the debates that arise when a grassroots agricultural movement evolves into a booming international market. As the film moves from farm fields to government meetings to industry trade shows, we see the hidden costs of conventional agriculture.  We also see how our health, the health of our planet, and the agricultural needs of our society are all intimately connected.  The film compels us to look forward, towards a new vision for our culture and encourages us to ask, “How can we eat with an ecological consciousness?” More>>



Enjoy fresh, locally-grown food and drinks!

Want to learn how to prepare healthy food and kid-friendly snacks? See local chefs use fresh local ingredients to create fun and tasty dishes, school lunches, and snacks.

Tired of that same old fair food? We’ll have a great selection of healthy foods showcasing locally-grown Fresh From Florida and Redland-Raised ingredients. Local cottage food and artisanal producers will share their stories and sell their goods.

Explore the park!

The only tropical botanical garden and public park of its kind in the U.S., the Redland Fruit & Spice Park hosts over 500 varieties of tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, nuts and edible plants. If you’ve ever been to the park, you know what a nice place it is to visit and learn about the amazing variety of edible plants you can grow in South Florida.


For more information, call 305-247-8650 or email

Please contact the organizers at least 7 days in advance to request materials in accessible format, or a sign language interpreter.  This event is ADA compliant.




GrowFest! 2012 sponsored by:


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Guest Blog Post – Porters Community Farm

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Chris Cano of wrote this fantastic blog post about our Porters Community Farm project. Thanks, Chris!


To learn more about Chris Cano and his passion for pedal-powered compost, check out this Insite Magazine article lauding him as one of Gainesville’s 25 Most Interesting people for 2012.


Porters Community Farm: Help Fund an Inspiring Urban Farm in Downtown Gainesville

Posted on September 14, 2012 by Chris Cano on
Dear Gainesville, Together we have the opportunity to kick-start an unprecedented urban farming project right in downtown Gainesville. But in order for this project to achieve its full potential, the campaign needs your help in the one week remaining:


Porters Community Farm
Please Donate Now»


Porters Community Farm

I first learned about the Porters space when Gainesville gardener Bryan Konrad invited me to see how he was working to transform this sunny 1/2-acre lot into an abundant garden and food forest.

It had been offered by property owner Chris Fillie and his Vibrant Community Development initiative as a flexible space for whatever urban agriculture projects might unfold.

The lot had once been farmed, Bryan told me, but it fell through when the task became too daunting for a small group of people to handle.

Bryan Konrad at Porters Community FarmAs part of a farming fellowship, Bryan planted the plot with okra, squash, corn, melons, sunflowers, and fruit trees in abundance. It was inspiring.

I took an interest in the space, and began a humble compost pile in a corner of the property, and occasionally brought over compost tea that I was brewing at nearby Indigo Green Store.

Bryan moved away, but he was eager to pass the project along to enthusiastic successors.

Since then, many people have taken an active interest in the initiative. Through the leadership of Travis Mitchell at Florida Organic Growers, and with much assistance from the collective Food Sovereignty Solidarity Working Group of Gainesville, the project has become re-organized.

The Mission

The mission of the project is to create a viable urban farming initiative that connects the St. Francis House with fresh, hyper-local produce; members of the Porters neighborhood with their own community garden plots and support; and the rest of Gainesville with an opportunity to get involved in and witness an urban farm that is both a source of pride for our community AND a model for other communities.

I believe the project is in no better hands to achieve these goals than with Travis and non-profit Florida Organic Growers (FOG).

Having been given the opportunity to do work at the Downtown Farmers Garden with Travis and FOG, I have seen first-hand Travis’ dedication and expertise “in the field.”

Travis Mitchell of Florida Organic Growers

Travis is one of FOG’s long-standing employees, a UF alum who studied organic agriculture. He wakes up early each morning and does the humbling work that is needed to advance Gainesville’s urban agriculture movement. With and without volunteer assistance, Travis has led the initiative to build hundreds of “GIFT Gardens” for low income residents around town, and has provided farming assistance to the beloved Downtown Farmers Garden behind the Alachua County Administration Building.

Travis has talked to me about the importance of “demonstrating viability” through this urban farm initiative. Along with FOG, Travis has the resources to run this project efficiently and to document the progress along the way.

It has been estimated that we can grow a ONE TON annual harvest from this plot downtown.

Furthermore, Gainesville Compost will continue to contribute to the project by turning nearby restaurants’ food waste into rich organic matter for the farm.

Imagine what this kind of initiative can do for urban agriculture in our community.

Make no mistake, this effort will go on with or without reaching the funding goal. In fact, it has already begun.

Porters Community Farm Volunteer Day

But in order to launch this program boldly and effectively, they are hoping to raise $12,000.

The campaign is more than half-way to its goal, but as of this writing there are only 8 days remaining to reach the funding. Let’s not drop the ball on this, Gainesville!

If you have the means, please stake your claim in Gainesville’s growing urban agriculture movement by donating to the Porters Community Farm project today:

Porters Community Farm
Click Here to Make a Donation»

 Read more in the Gainesville Sun: Porters garden brings fresh veggies to area

Chris Cano
“Compost Experience Officer”


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Porter’s Update – We’re Half Way There!!

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We are getting really excited about the Porters Community Garden Project! (If you need a refresher, refer back to this post.)

Now, with 10 days left to go in the campaign, we’ve received just over half of our funding goal! To those who have donated; THANK YOU!! But we aren’t finished yet!!

Will you help us raise $6,000 in 10 days? That’s only $600 per day! We can do it!

Here’s what some of our funders had to say about the project:

“For me and my husband, this is putting our money where our mouth is: we support local growers and local growing, and we’re thrilled by this project!”

“What an amazing project – working together to wipe out hunger one row at a time. Kudos to all of you!”

What We Need & What You Get

To make Porters Community farm a reality we need your help. We’re hoping to raise $ 12,000 through our IndieGoGo video, and here on, to establish the farm and manage it for one year. Our budget includes a drip irrigation system, the cost of water, fertilizer, tools, seeds and seedlings, and the part-time salary for one staff member to manage the farm and organize volunteers.

In return for your generosity we have some great perks. From a collection of fall seeds, to a fancy organic fair-trade lunch sack, to a fully installed raised-bed garden of your own, there’s something for everyone!

The Impact

Your donation will help us provide 1 ton of fresh produce to 200 needy people! That’s quite an impact! We’ll post regular updates and pictures of the project here on our website, so that you can watch your dollars make a difference.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you can’t make a financial donation there are many other ways to help. Volunteers will be crucial to the success of Porters Community Farm. For more information about volunteer opportunities, please email Also if you have any of the following you would like to donate to the farm we would be greatly appreciative:

  • Lawn mower
  • Shovels, rakes, hoes
  • Wheel barrows
  • Any and all other gardening tools

Thank you!

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Departmental Spotlight – GIFT Gardens

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This spring with the support of Alachua County CHOICES, Florida Organic Growers installed a teaching garden at the Waldo Community School. The garden, which contains 3 raised-bed vegetable gardens and a small butterfly garden, can provide organic herbs and vegetables all year long. This teaching garden is one of approximately 250 GIFT Gardens FOG has installed throughout Alachua County. Another of our GIFT garden installations can be found at the Woodland Park Boys and Girls club, where FOG installed 10 raised bed teaching gardens last year also with the help of CHOICES and in honor of Food Day.  

“We’re trying to give people an opportunity to learn to grow fruits and vegetables,” said Steven Pokorny, director of CHOICES. “Ideally to increase the servings of fruits and vegetables in their diet.”

The Waldo Community School teaching garden and the Woodland Park Boys and Girls Club teaching garden were both chosen as sites for our CHOICES-sponsored spring gardening classes.  During the 16 week course, students in both locations were able to watch crops grow from seed to harvest.  FOG collaborated with the Eat Up Program to educate students on a variety of organic gardening principles using lesson plans from the “Gardening for Grades” curricula. This curriculum was released in 2010 by Florida Agriculture in the Classroom and meets Next Generation Sunshine State Standards in a wide variety of disciplines from Language Arts to Science. Benchmarks included identifying the parts of plants, awareness of plant feeding schedules for proper growth, identification of edible plants, and awareness of food origins. All lessons included core ideas like photosynthesis, soil structure, nutrition, and biodiversity. Learning synthesis was achieved through the following hands-on activities: a leaf scavenger hunt, nature exploration, garden care, and collecting pine leaves for mulch.

For the first several classes in February at the Waldo Community School, the students focused on building the garden and planting the beds. Several rows of potted plants were also planted so students could take a vegetable plant home with them for the summer if they wished.

March was a busy month in the garden. Since everything in the two beds was planted and growing fast, we had plenty tomato pruning to do, mulch to lay, and a need to constantly water. With an eye toward expansion, the students started additional seedlings that they either took home or are saving to be added to garden. In order to learn about the vast biodiversity around us and the life cycles of plants, we read Eric Lyle’s book “The Tiny Seed”. We then went on a seed scavenger hunt. We also explored the origins of different plants that we eat. As a hands-on way to cement our new knowledge, we played a game of four corners with plants and their continent of origin.

The garden lessons in April were all science-based and focused on biodiversity. Students engaged in a leaf scavenger hunt among the vegetables and underneath the surrounding trees. They were asked to find leaves that smelled good, leaves that smelled bad, large leaves, spiny leaves, and leaves that we would eat. The scavenger hunt was paired with a worksheet where students were asked to label different parts of the plants, and then describe the biological purpose. The second half of the worksheet had the more advanced terms chlorophyll, photosynthesis, sugar, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. These terms were new to most of the students and the section acted as a pre-test. To connect the biology of plants to the vegetables we eat, the students played a game involving common vegetables and naming the part of the plant that vegetable is.

We also installed a new garden bed and planted it with radishes, which are a quick growing crop. We then held a radish race where the students measured their radishes to see which could grow the largest.

To teach photosynthesis, students were asked to complete several worksheets and coloring sheets about photosynthesis while we discussed its process and role in plant growth. This was paired with a game where students acted out photosynthesis being either water or carbon dioxide, pairing up and then becoming either oxygen or sugar.

In May we continued to focus on teaching the science behind all the growing that was happening in the garden. Students completed the same worksheet focusing on photosynthesis and the parts of the plant that they were given earlier in the spring and the results were quite striking. The first time the class completed the worksheet the average score was 3.45 correct answers out of ten, with the median and mode scores both 3. A month and half later the class averaged 8.32 correct answers out of ten, with a median score of 8 and mode score of 10. To demonstrate how plants gather resources, the students played a game where each had to stand on a paper plate and then brown, blue, and yellow cards were spread around them representing nutrients in the soil, water, and sun light. Then without moving their feet off the plates the students had to grab as many of each card as they could and those who couldn’t reach one of each had to explain what they were missing and how it would prevent plant growth.

We were also blessed with the beginnings of abundant harvests, and the students were able to harvest tomatoes, red asparagus beans, radishes and eggplant to take home. To prepare the gardens for the summer they were planted with sweet potatoes. We also added a small wildflower section to attract butterflies and other pollinators.

The spring gardening classes at the Woodland Park Boys and Girls club also covered a variety of organic gardening principles.  We began by planting most of the beds with spring crops like beans, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and squash. With everything growing fast we had plenty of tomato pruning to do and insects to chase away. By the end of the March we were able to harvest sugar snap peas and the last of the broccoli. In April we were able to harvest some more sugar snap peas, along with strawberries and growing clusters of green tomatoes. Despite the unusually warm spring, the sugar snap peas were delicious, sweet, and crisp. We estimate that between the two patches, 15 pounds of peas were produced in March and April. In May we were also blessed with the beginnings of abundant harvests, and on the final day of classes the students were able to harvest tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, green peppers and eggplant to take home. We estimate the between $200 and $300 worth of produce was harvested from the garden during our spring gardening classes. More will available to harvest by the students at the Boys and Girls club and the surrounding community throughout the summer.

For more information about GIFT Gardens or our gardening classes for youth, please contact Travis Mitchell.

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Garden Workday June 5

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Hi garden volunteers! We’ve got few things coming up next week, so come out to enjoy the summer and help us help people grow some food. 

The Gainesville Downtown Farmers Garden volunteer workday is moving from Thursdays to Tuesdays at 9:00am beginning next Tuesday June 5th. The garden is located in front of the Alachua County Administration building on the corner of University and Main street.

Then next Friday June 8th  at 9:00am we’ll be meeting at Porters Community Garden to load up for an installation. The installation should take approximately four hours. If you plan on volunteering with GIFT Gardens please RSVP to Plan on wearing something comfortable that you don’t mind getting dirty and bring water, sunblock, and gloves if you have them.

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Facebook Contest – Herb Garden Pics!

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This month’s Facebook contest theme is – Herb Gardens! FOG’s Danielle Blansett tells us about it in the following video:

To enter, submit one photo of your herb garden to us in a private Facebook message. We’ll take your photo and put it in the contest album for this month.  Once your photo is in the contest album you can share/post/re-post and promote your photo. The photo at the end of the month that has the most “Likes” will be announced as the winner! 

The lucky winner will select 5 herbs to be crafted onto vintage spoons by Connecticut based artist Jen Matlack. Jen Matlack is a writer, artist, and organic gardener. Each of her drawings is done by hand using archival ink, which is then hand-colored and sealed twice onto the spoon with a moisture and UV-resistant finish. For more examples of her work, check out her Etsy shop


 We look forward to your entries!


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5 Reasons Bumblebees are Like Superheroes

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 The following blog post was originally Posted on 

1. Bumblebees are saving the world… from starvation!

No – I’m not talking about honey! It is estimated that at least 30% of all the foods humans consume in North America are from bee pollinated plants.

Take a look at the chart below to see some of the impact bees have on our food crops to see their super powers in action!

Crop Value in billions(2006) % Bee Pollinated
Almonds 2.2 100
Apples 2.1 90
Cotton 5.2 16
Blueberries 0.5 90
Grapes 3.2 1
Oranges 1.8 27
Peanuts 0.6 2
Peaches 0.5 48
Soybeans 19.7 5
Strawberries 1.5 2
from:USDA; RA Morse & NW Calderone(Cornell University)

2. Bumblebees defy the laws of science!

In 1934, French entomologist Antoine Magnan concluded that the flight of the Bumblebee was impossible. Seriously – his calculations never revealed the secret of bee flight and he died still confused with the tiny insect’s superpowers.

Sure – modern scientists have some various ‘theories’ about why bees should be able to fly, but they have yet to definitively prove their understanding of bee’s aeronautical capabilities.

However, much like other superheros bees continue to fly along on their daily missions despite our inability to explain how they do it.

We’ve even written songs to honor the Bumblebee’s flying prowess.

Yeah, I think that’s pretty super.

3. Bumblebees have a secret weakness!

Much like Superman and kryptonite, Wonder Woman and her bracelets being tied together (by a man! Seriously. Sexist much?) or Green Lantern’s ring being weakened by the color yellow (I know lame – right?), Bumblebees have a secret weakness.

And despite their main goal being to help us, like all good superhero stories – Bumble Bees have haters!

They try to keep their weakness a secret so humans don’t use it against them, but someone has figured it out.

As a result, Bumble Bees are mysteriously dying at record rates and scientists are not really sure why. Again – there are theories, but the truth is shrouded in mystery.

We can only wonder about the fate of the planet if the villains succeed in their plot to destroy Bumblebees.

4. Bumblebees just look like superheros!

With their bold yellow and black fuzzy bodies and protruding antenna, Bumble Bees just look like aliens ready to save the world!

Frankly, they also look a little scary. I mean you might not think so, but have you really looked closely at a Bumblebee lately?

Striking fear into the hearts of evil-doers world-wide!

5. Bumblebees are weaponized!

Yes, we don’t like to talk about it much, but bees do have the ability to defend their collective wellbeing.

This takes the form of a HUGE stinger and unlike their honey bee friends – they can sting you again and again.

So next time you sit down to a meal or even look outside and behold the beautiful flowers outside, think about the Bumblebees that made that possible.

And remember, even superheros can’t do it alone. So, consider doing your part to help Bumblebees worldwide.


Worm Composting Workshop

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Join Gainesville Urban Homesteaders, Florida Organic Growers, and Gainesville Compost at the Downtown Farmers Garden on May 19 for an educational and fun worm composting workshop!

Vermicomposting (i.e. using earthworms to break down food waste) is a great composting solution for those with a small amount of food waste or those who do not have the option to have a large compost pile — like people in apartments or small dwellings.

This workshop is free and open to the public, but participants will have the option to purchase materials to build and take home their own worm bins.

Cost of materials (optional):

$20 for 1 pound of composting worms
$30 for worm bin building materials

The workshop will feature:

– A lesson on worms and their remarkable composting abilities
– A workshop on how to build your own worm bin
– A demonstration of how to use earthworm castings (i.e. worm poop) in the garden

PRE-ORDER YOUR MATERIALS: If you would like to pre-order materials for a worm bin — payment may be made the day of the event — please fill out this registration form by May 13:

Don’t forget to bring your friends, children and family! We look forward to seeing you!

Your friends at the Downtown Farmers Garden,

Florida Organic Growers
Gainesville Compost
Gainesville Urban Homesteaders