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Posts Tagged ‘Bee Heaven Farm’

Farmer Friday: Organic Certification Cost Share and Bee Heaven Farm

Welcome to the first Farmer Friday!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.


Organic Certification Cost Share: How FOG helped make it happen

FOG was key in the development of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. In 1999, Florida, along with Minnesota and North Carolina, experimented with a statewide cost share certification program to reimburse organic producers a portion of their organic certification costs. FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh’s goal was to provide a way for small farmers to continue organic certification without being priced out of the marketplace due to the escalating certification costs.

Due to overwhelming interest and great results, the program continued in 2000 and 2001 and the language for the cost share program was used as a model in the 2002 Farm Bill. avos

Thanks to FOG’s hard work and persistence, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program is still in existence and was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that passed earlier this year.

Margie-n-Russell-avosFarmer Margie Pikarsky, owner of Bee Heaven Farm, a five-acre diversified family farm in Homestead, has benefitted from the cost share program and is a strong proponent of organic certification.

“The organic cost share program has helped make organic certification affordable for me, and for small farmers everywhere,” said Margie. “I always hear people saying that they can’t afford organic certification because it costs too much. They expect to spend $1000 or more and just can’t justify it. These folks don’t know about the cost share program, so I explain it to them.”

“I’ve been taking advantage of this cost share every year since it began, except for one year that the program wasn’t funded. That year took a bite out of us, so I’m happy to see that it’s been funded again in the Farm Bill. I’m grateful that we have a champion like Marty Mesh fighting for organic farmers!”

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for family scale farmers and make sure they aren’t left behind as policies such as, Organic Certification Cost Share Program are developed.

 Please join us as we continue our fight for family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

 

Farm Highlight: Bee Heaven Farm

125-pei tsai Bee Heaven Farm, located near Homestead, started with a dream. Owner Margie Pikarsky and her family started their own family garden and experimented with various plants and organic growing  techniques that were suitable to south Florida’s subtropical climate.

In 1995, the family purchased 5 acres in the heart of the historic Redland district. They wanted to have a place where their daughter could grow up carefree without worrying about chemical exposure  and enjoy food in an environmentally-friendly way. Two years later, they were certified organic by Florida Organic Growers organic certification agency, Quality Certification Services (QCS).

Today, Bee Heaven Farm grows Asian greens, lettuce mix, arugula, heirloom tomatoes and vegetables, multi-colored carrots, herbs, avocadoes and other tropical fruit. They also have eggs, honey,  luffa, specialty bananas and longans.

The Farm sells their products at the Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market in Pinecrest during the winter season and through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which has approximately 300 members.

Bee Heaven Farm also gives back to the local community through donations to the Homestead Soup Kitchen. They accept EBT and have partnered with FOG to offer Fresh Access Bucks, a double-value program. In the past, Bee Heaven Farm’s generous CSA members have donated some of their shares to needy families.

Bee Heaven Farm, along with Redland Organics, hosts GrowFest!, a two-day festival held at the Fruit and Spice Park. The event was established to raise of the agricultural area, help educate growers and gardeners about what can be grown here in South Florida, and provide plants and resources to start out the growing season. The festival sells produce and highlights artisans who craft their products with locally-grown ingredients and hosts food vendors who sell foods prepared with locally-grown items.avos

The event donates $1 of each paid admission to an organization. In 2012, the event benefitted FOG. In 2013, the event will benefit the Urban Oasis Project, a local organization whose mission it is to bring fresh, healthy, local food accessible to all.

The 2012 event drew 1,400 people, a big increase over the previous year. It’s meant to be a family event. Lots of children attend – we counted more than 250 this year, and there were educational activities for kids, as well as music, workshops and presentations on many aspects of food production, from growing information to cottage food laws to beekeeping and backyard chickens.

Mark your calendars! Next year’s event will be held the weekend after Columbus Day.

For more information on Bee Heaven Farm, please visit their website or like them on Facebook!