One of the important stops we make when giving farm tours to the public, is at the back of the property right past the playground. It might look like a bunch of useless pool equipment from afar, but what is it really? This contraption of parts is really a well that pulls water from the Florida aquifer. The water that we pump from the ground is untreated, and simply runs through a UV light filter to get rid of anything unwanted. After this, we have our water! By doing this process we are able to water our crops with untreated water.
Tampa’s city water is treated with a number of chemicals for the public to drink, bathe, and use. Chlorine, ammonia, sodium hydroxide, and the list goes on with how the city of Tampa treats it’s water. As a certified organic farm, we want to keep our crops as whole, and up to USDA organic standards as possible, this is why we choose to use our own water.
But what is the Florida aquifer, and what’s so special about it? It covers not only Florida, but parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and even South Carolina! It is one of the most productive aquifers in the world, and was found to be in existence in 1936. Because of the Florida aquifer, we have a number of natural springs such as the famous Weeki Whachee Springs, and others like Rainbow Springs. The aquifer supplies about 824 springs, and the majority is in Florida.
When it comes to our crops and veggies, we want it to be in the purest form. We only use water from our well to grow our crops, and when it comes to distributing them to the public we do a quick dunk to clean off any debris with city water. With all organic certifications, we are required to do a number of different tasks to keep our farm certified. This ranges from record keeping, to crop-rotation requirements, land requirements, and how we fertilize.
You can learn more about what goes into the guidelines for organic crop certification at the USDA’s website https://www.ams.usda.
We are taking a long deserved Summer break until October 15th, when we will be back with a bang. We’ll be planting some cover crop to nourish our soil and bringing you the best local produce you can find in Tampa Bay!
We are having a blast this month with loads of fun activities for the kids (and moms too)! on Mother’s Day, first 5o moms get a handmade heart necklace created by the farm staff for you with love! (kids will string the pendant for mom)
We are not just celebrating Earth Day, we are celebrating Earth Month! Heck organic farming honors the mother all year long!
Let us help you with that. All March long we have soilful workshops to help you in the garden.
For February you can feel the love.. We have many lovely themed activities for February. Take a selfie with your sweetie post to Intsagram and Facebook and get a sweet oraganic treat!
It’s all about you and your good health this month. Check out our event page for all the amazing Workshops we have on the schedule. Keep posted for more awesomeness down on the farm!
I’ve been buying my produce at grocery stores my whole life, why should I care about a CSA now, you ask?
1. Buying organic produce through a CSA is less expensive than buying at the grocery store, and the money you pay goes directly to the farmers and community people you know and trust. That means you’re not paying for high overhead costs to an out-of-state store chain!
2. At a Certified Organic CSA, there are absolutely no synthetic pesticides either on or in your food that can cause disease and illness in humans! The farmers who grow your food are also not at risk from concentrated forms of toxic chemicals!
3. Joining a CSA means supporting your local community and helping your area become more self-sustaining as a result!
Your CSA membership supports community children!
Due to CSA profits, Sweetwater is able to support the important work of educating Tampa Bay’s children on how their food is grown. In the 2016 fiscal year alone, Sweetwater has educated an average of 6,000 school children! Children who have gone through our field trip program have had hands-on experiences showing them how food is grown, and the deep connection to the environment that organic farming has.
Every CSA share that is sold directly benefits all children in the Tampa Bay Area who come through the Field Trip Program. To read more about our Education Program, click here. To learn more about our CSA Memberships, and how you can be a part of it, just click here!
Tasty brussel sprouts, snowy eggplants, butternut AND acorn squash, and tomatillos are among what’s new.
The tiniest of the list is the versatile tomatillo! Yes, that’s right, tomatillos don’t just make delicious salsa verde for your tacos, but there are many ways to incorporate them into every meal, including HAPPY HOUR!
Click here to find 15 ways you can cook with the mightytomatillo and prepare for next season’s harvest!
Around the Farm
The Farm is an ever-changing place. We’re not only completing and beautifying the Native Plant Trail, but we’re adding more trail!
This week began the addition to the existing trail that will take you on a picturesque tour of Florida’s native plants with an educational component teaching about the importance of growing Florida-native plants.
Stay tuned to social medis for updates, we are so excited for the unveiling of the Native Plant Trail, you won’t be disappointed!
Things have settled down quite a bit for the summer. But, that hasn’t stopped the many critters around the farm from living life to the fullest!
Yesterday, a friendly caterpillar reemerged as a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly to live in our growing butterfly garden.
We also met a mother muscovy duck and her five babies who now live under the cool shade of tall trees in the Sweetwater Creek.
Sweetwater is all about food, fun, and community.
So, you may have recently read about the trend called Fleet Farming. In Orlando, Chris Castro is working with the residents of his neighborhood and their ample lawns to create fleet farms that everyone benefits from.
Run solely by volunteers, Fleet Farming is not only beneficial to residents, but it also has brought a sense of community and purpose to the neighborhoods that take part in them.
If you would like to read more about this new trend and how it’s impacting communities, then click here!
All returning CSA Members, it’s not too late!
You still have the opportunity to renew your CSA Membership for the 2016 – 2017 Season at a discount! Discount rates end at the end of May, so hurry up and make sure to receive another year of delicious, organic vegetables for even less!
Just click here to renew your membership, or to become a new member!
Around the Farm… And the World!
As any farmer can attest, keeping our plants alive and thriving throughout the season is a tricky job!
So many things can go wrong, and it’s difficult to diagnose when something unexpected happens that prevents our crops from thriving. Three researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology are developing a reliable phone app to detect and diagnose disease in plants
with just a picture from a smart phone.
It’s that time of year in Florida again, when all we can think about is when “winter” will be back again. We count down the days to the next cool day of the year!
At Sweetwater, our growing season is almost coming to an end. Soon, it will be too hot to grow any produce. That’s why all of the baby plants that were once nursed in the greenhouse have all been planted in the farm!
We’re ready to grow the last of our very best produce for your eating pleasure! They’re all growing for you!
Easy access to nutritious food is a big problem in many parts of the world, and in many communities. As a non-profit education farm, we struggle with this issue as well!
In Toronto, a coalition of social entrepreneurs have come together to convert unused metro buses into mobile produce markets, that are then driven straight to low income neighborhoods!
Read more about this extraordinary program by clicking here.
Please be reminded that Sweetwater Farm and Sweetwater Sunday Market will be closed on Easter Sunday on March, 27th! CSA Sunday pick-ups will be held on Saturday the 26th at the farm. We hope that you have a fun and fruitful holiday weekend with your loved ones!
Also, don’t forget that CSA membership renewals are NOW! New member CSA applications begin on April, 1st! Don’t forget to renew, if you’ve enjoyed your shares this season, then tell your friends and family to join!
It’s that time of year again!
The family-friendly 24th Annual Pesto Festo will take place on April 30th, and you’re just in time to enjoy all of the fun and excitement of one of Sweetwater’s flagship events! Do you like pesto? Do you like fun? Then you’ll love Pesto Festo! Buying a ticket to Pesto Festo means supporting Sweetwater’s Education mission, and all of the good we do every year for thousands of kids in our community. Click here for more information and to buy tickets for this unforgettable experience!
Farmer Travis and his excellent team have been working very hard this season to grow you the very best produce from our farm! Renew your membership today to be able to enjoy next season’s harvest at a discount! If you aren’t a member yet, then new member applications begin on April 1, 2016! We’ve been growing prize-worthy produce for you and your family, just look at that photogenic Napa Cabbage!
Around The Farm
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a nutrient dense diet full of produce!
According to a new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology meeting, lowering the cost of fruits and vegetables by 30% could save the lives of about 200,000 people over the course of 15 years. Statistics like that can’t be ignored. Studies have shown time and again that making nutritious foods accessible to communities is a matter of public health, not simply commerce.
At Sweetwater, we’re glad that our community knows the importance of affordable organic vegetables. We thank you for choosing us to support you and your family’s health and well being! Here’s a round of applause to you, our farmily!
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your radishes!
It’s a little known fact that in the story of Rapunzel as told by the Brothers Grimm, Rapunzel’s mother’s craving for radishes is responsible for the long-locked blond’s imprisonment in a witch’s tower! Rapunzel’s mother had such a longing for the enchantedradishes growing in the witch’s garden, than when her husband was caught stealing these round, red gems, he was forced to promise to her his unborn daughter in order to escape death! Intrigued?? Then read the rest, and avoid the whole witch thing by coming down to the farm to get plenty of radishes of your own!
Our CSA family spoke, and we listened!
Last season, our CSA members asked for more diverse and exciting produce and Sweetwater did just that! This season, our farmers have planted brussel sprouts, artichoke, arugula, a few new varieties of cauliflower, and sunflowers among other crops.
We know how important it is for you to have locally grown, organic produce that you can trust to feed your family. We also know that it’s important for you to have variety to keep you excited about your health and nutritious diet. That’s why, when you ask us for more options, we work hard to do just that!
Now, renew your CSA membership at a discounted rate starting March 1st, before it’s too late!
Sweetwater paints the farm in Graffiti! …
… Cauliflower, that is! Spring vegetables are almost in full bloom here at the farm as our practiced farmers prepare to painstakingly pick pretty, purple produce for you to prepare! But, Graffiti isn’t the only color of cauliflower you will be delighted to eat soon, yellow Cheddar cauliflower, white Skywalker cauliflower, and green Romanesco cauliflower will all be in bloom soon just in time for the Spring!
Around The Farm:
It’s tough working on the weekends, but during harvest season, our farmers work seven days a week!
The farm is such a wondrous place, anything can happen here. To maintain a farm, farmers have to be vigilant about what Mother Nature’s up to because any slight change in the weather can affect the growth of our vegetables.
We love what we do, here at Sweetwater, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our farmers love it even more when you show them how much you appreciate them and their hard work! So, whether you’re picking up your CSA share, or enjoying the farm-fresh produce and festivities at our Sunday Morning Market, be sure to thank a farmer! Or, go ahead, ask for a hug!
Sweetwater’s Celery Queen Caroline Garber!
You know her and you love her…she may have even taught your kids about the importance of farming and eating vegetables! This month, Caroline will be educating thousands of children as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences’ Celery Farmer of the Month! Let’s congratulate Caroline for all that she does for our community!
Like the seasons, change is in the air at Sweetwater!
Sweetwater’s very own Program Director, Kaitlin Hennessy is bidding the farm adieu this season, but will be in our Romaine hearts forever!
“I am thankful for the experiences I have had and people I have met here at the farm. From learning how to drive a Kabota tractor to trying a black Nero radish for the first time, I sure have learned a lot here. Thank you to all the wonderful people who volunteer, support and love the farm. It’s been a pleasure.”
Humbly hoping to live up to the lofty standards Kaitlin has set here at Sweetwater, Mimi Ghosh is joining the farm as the new Program Manager!
A Tampa native, and St.Pete local, Mimi brings her public health perspective and firm grasp of corny puns to Sweetwater. She hopes to contribute to the farm’s growth, and provide high-quality program experiences for our community!
Cut the eye, chuck it, and cover it up…It’s potato planting time!
First, we get our seed potatoes,yes they are different from the potatoes on your plate, from Wood Prairie Farm. Then we chop up each potato into 1.5 ounce pieces that have at least one eye on each piece.
We drag our prepared potato eyes into the fields where they are planted into long furrows. The chopped pieces are chucked into the furrow where they are promptly covered with soil. After the dirty work we wait for theYukon Gold to crimson Caribe potatoes to be ready for harvest.
After a hard day of work on a cold, rainy day, Sweetwater farmers eat pizza!
Farming can be hard, especially when the weather’s gloomy. That’s why sometimes, it’s important to treat ourselves with something that everybody loves! Sharing a hot, cheesy pizza on a gloomy day is a great way for farmers to bond and cheer-up to finish harvesting the delicious produce our community loves so much!
So, if it’s gloomy today, or maybe you’re just grumpy, consider making a homemade pizza to share with the people around you, and top it with the tasty herbs and veggies you bring home from either the Sunday Market, or as a CSA member!
Meet Farm Apprentice Jess:
Hey what’s up? I’m Jess. Long story, short. Graduated high school up in CT and went straight to college. Got my bachelors in Exercise Science and realized that I wasn’t feeling it anymore. Took two years off and helped open and managed an organic burger joint. Visited St. Pete to attend a meditation retreat to meet one of my mentors. Promised myself that “I would be back in Florida in one year. I don’t know why, how for what reason but I’LL BE BACK!” Started realizing that I found the simpler life of farming to be very appealing. Found Sweetwater in exactly one year and the rest is history. Check out her blog at: http://www.
Meanwhile, outside around the farm…
We want them.
Bring your bag stash to the farm so they can be used to carry fresh vegetables home from CSA pick ups and the Sunday Market.