It has been quite a while! School has me binded in all sorts of ways, and I cannot believe I have neglected my poor bucketlist for this long! Duty calls. ANYWAY! A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of touring Sweetwater Organic Farm here in Tampa. My good friend is an intern over at the farm and was kind enough to give us the full script and more, in character all out tour guide style.
First area we visited was a large plot where a giant pile of hay looking stuff posed ever so stoic. So hay, or so I thought, was not really hay. It is a giant pile of poopie. Not just any poopie folks. Rhino, elephant, and giraffe poopie! All of this exotic poop was donated so generously by the Lowry Park Zoo. This poop is used as a form of fertilizer. Those specific animals are used because they are herbivores. Meat eating animal’s manure contain risks of e.coli, so only herbivore poop is used. That’s why it looks much like hay. Fun fact: the insides of these piles get superrr hot because of the bacterial reactions firing off on a cellular level. Who knew a giant pile of hay from afar could actually be so kewl. It surprisingly didn’t stink.
Next stop was the Sunday morning market. You can buy organic vegetables grown on the farm, as well as products made from other private vendors. There was a fresh pressed juice stand, homemade pet food, a jewelry post, and a few other things. I am sure it is very busy a high noon, but by the time I got there, it was already hitting later in the afternoon and things were winding down.
So a bit about the farm. It is considered as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Community Supported Agriculture is just as it is sounds. It is financially and physically sustained by the community itself. How it works to become a CSA member, you pay a set fee as to essentially buying a share. With being a member, you are granted access to pick up a hefty amount of fresh organic vegetables bi-monthly, walking away with confidence knowing exactly where your food comes from. Sweetwater is a non-profit organization specializing in agricultural and environmental education within all things related to the farm. The farm is very reliant on volunteers to which they owe a lot of its successes to.
One of the most interactive parts of the visit was the herb garden. As we walked through, we got to sample all of the aromatic herbs. My favorite was the lemongrass. It was fun to pick at the basil and rosemary and go for a little sniff, passing it off around to friends to sense too. A lot of times my use of herbs in cooking is dried herbs. Getting to experience this walk through was exciting and gave me a new appreciation of the herbs I normally use.
There was also a plant called Oxalis, more commonly known as the three-leaf clover, growing around the farm. You can eat three-leaf clovers! Did you know that? They have a pleasantly tart taste, much like a green apple. So appealing for the palate, and sadly cannot be found for sale in grocery stores!
The farm also has a greenhouse. A greenhouse is used to grow plants in a controlled environment in protection of the elements. In a state like Florida, the elements can be hindrance as the weather deems to be unpredictable. Walking through the greenhouse felt like I was visiting a bunch of newborn babies in hospital. All plants so delicate and young. It was humbling seeing how these tiny sprouts of plants are capable of feeding the masses once grown into its prime. Some plants require petting!
Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, eating food is more spiritual to us as humans than we think. When we shop in amazingly convenient super markets, it is easy to lose touch with nature and how our food is made. We as a society are very shelf-to-table minded. When we pick out our food from a shelf, we sometimes forget about the gentle hands that cared for it. We sometimes forget the tender blessings of mother nature, which fosters the means of nourishment to our bodies possible. We sometimes forget what our environment has to offer to our well-being. I would highly recommend touring a farm, organic or not, and take the time to see what effort it takes in agricultural production. The cultivation of food is truly an example of the integration of art and science. I am 21 years old and I am just now finding ways to educate myself on awareness and importance of ecological responsibility as a consumer.