Renew Your CSA Membership Today!

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!2016-03-05 13.16.34

 

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!

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Pay A CSA, Not A Witch!

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!

Around the Farm

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!

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Paint The Town Purple!

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!7704

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!

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Hello and Goodbye

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 Cyrus Celerychildren 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!

Read more about our celery queen Caroline…

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!

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Sweetwater Plants Eyes!

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. Potato PlantingThe 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!

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Certified Organic Who?

Meet Farm Apprentice Jess:

Hey what’s up? I’m Jess. Long story, short. Graduated high school up in CT and went Jess Farm Apprenticestraight 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.certifiedorganicjess.com/

Meanwhile, outside around the farm…

You know that stash of plastic bags engulfing the cabinet under your sink? The one that Feed Me Plastic Bagsseems to grow and become out of control like a gremlin (rule #2 don’t get them wet).

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.

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The Cover Up

Tuesday, the Sunday of the week at Sweetwater, the farmers and the Associate Director, Yvette, got called in to quickly cover up some veggies.  Even though we didn’t have a “hard freeze” some crops are not tolerant of colder temperatures and light frosts.

The greenhouse is now decked out in a plastic cover to protect the tender seedlings growing inside and to trap more heat from the day’s sun.  In the fields, the crew covered the mature lettuce heads (photo below) to prevent the leaves from severe damage due to frost that can kill the plant.

Covering Lettuce, Cold

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Do you know her?

Who’s Your Farmer?

Farmer Jenise

Greetings Farmily! I am so excited to be here at Sweetwater. It is my pleasure to serve such a wonderful community of people nestled smack dab in the middle of Town N Country. I have a loving husband, Kevin and we have four beautiful children, Jordan, 15; Lailah, 11; Jaden, 8 and Lauryn, 5. We moved here in July 2014 from Beacon, New York. There we enjoyed a close knit community in a small town of progressive “millennium hippies” who loved nature, the arts and wholesome healthy eating!
Continue Reading Here…

 

Check out the free lecture “EAT MY GARBAGE: Vermicomposting” on Monday, January 25th, 6:30-8:00pm at the Seminole Heights Public Library. Fed with paper, fruit and vegetable scraps, worms produce incredibly rich compost that will give your vegetable, herb or flower gardens a nutritional super-boost!  This talk will be given by Extension Compost Coordinator Lisa Meredith.

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Let’s Call it a Party

We’ve got short rads, pink rads, long rads, white rads, and black rads.  Even watermelon rads.  Its a radish party over here and they are so good to us.

  • Radishes are a good source of of vitamin C, Potassium, Folate, Calcium and Fiber
  • Possesses the anti-oxidant compound, isothiocyanate, linked to cancer prevention
  • Known in many cultures for helping the body with  detoxification
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Torrid Tropics in Wintertime

 

Yes, you are probably over talking about the 80 degree weather in December. But in agriculture we gotta talk about it.
Even some of our heat tolerant winter crops are succumbing to bolting.

We have more successions of crops on the way and are keeping a close eye on crops to harvest them before this early flowering process occurs when possible.

To read more about climate change and food products check out this article.

Ahoy, big day ahead on Thursday, January 7th!

We are hyped about the big 5% Day at Whole Foods Market next week.  5% Day is when the Whole Foods Market stores of the Tampa Bay area ( Tampa, Carrollwood, and Clearwater ) will donate 5% of their net sales on January 7th to Sweetwater.  That’s right to your community farm!

This is a way that you can get your weekly grocery shopping done and support Sweetwater Farm at the same time. Funds generated at the 5% Day help to support our educational field trips, classes, and outreach events. See you there!

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Celebrating Celery

Our celery is growing up! While it won’t be ready for a little while yet, we thought you’d like to see how it’s coming along. The farmers always get a little tear in their eye when their babies are growing up fast.

Most people recognize celery as a diet food because it is low in calories and high in fiber. Did you know that not only is celery an old folk remedy for heartburn, but it has been around for a really long time? It was one of the ingredients in an old dessert recipe that was unearthed in the island of Pompeii, outlining instructions on how to roast chopped celery in an oven and mixing it with honey and ground pepper.

We are very proud of our growing celery!

While we are still awaiting the students’ return from the holiday break and for the field trips to start back up, we are staying very busy.  Lots of weeding, planting and harvesting still happening.

If you want to get involved, we love to have volunteers come out and work with us.  Come on out to the farm and get your hands in the dirt if you have some time on your hands to help.

Please note that the farm is closed on New Years Day. CSA pick up holiday schedules can be viewed by clicking here. We will also be open for the Sweetwater Sunday Market on December 27th and January 3rd as normal.

Wishing everyone a joyful and healthy New Year!

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Not Bolting into Winter

Broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi (all in the Brassica family) are starting to take shape and be ready for harvest.  These plants prefer the cooler winters in Central Florida.

Many of the winter crop seed varieties grown at the farm are known as being “heat tolerant” because our winter can even be too warm for them.  Heat tolerant varieties can stand up to higher temperatures without “bolting”

or “running to seed.”  This is when the plant begins to form its flower shoots and seeds suddenly after a warm spell.  The warm weather signals to the plant that it is time to reproduce and end its lifecycle.

It has been quieter at the farm this week without the hum of students, off on winter break, visiting the farm. By hum I mean the wild calling of questions, gleefully shouting about tasting oxalis, digging in the worm bins and ravings of something called a minon.

Meanwhile the farmers are still at it in the fields beginning the transition to cool weather crops and steadily planting away.  Volunteers are most welcome during the break if you are interested in getting outside and have some time on your hands to help. Please note that the farm is closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day. CSA pick up holiday schedules can be viewed by clicking here.

We will also be open for the Sweetwater Sunday Market on December 20th and December 27th as normal.

Wishing everyone a joyful and healthy holiday season!

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The Choi-ful Season

With the abundance of various Choi’s this season here are some facts to ponder as it sits on your plate:
-Joi Choi as well as Pak Choi, Pak Choy, Bok Choy are all the same crop as Bok Choi (just different varieties)
-Joi Choi is in the cabbage or Brassica Family (the same family of vegetables that are linked to cancer prevention)
– 1 cup of choi has 100% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A and 66% of vitamin C
-Check out recipes that use Choihere on the Veggie Directory

In other news:

January is looking good at the farm.

We just added a Easy Yogurt and Cheese Workshop to the calendar for January 3rd, Willow LaMonte is hosting a Healing Herbs Workshop on January 17th, and the Whole Foods Markets of Tampa Bay area will be donating 5% of their net sales to the farm on January 7th!  Mark your calendars for good things in the New Year!

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Lousy with Lettuces

This time of the year vegetables feel the neglect.

With cookies, key lime pie, kugel, monkey bread, lasagna, and holiday parties vegetables tend to get kicked to the curb for a month.  Try to stay inspired to keep up your veggie intake (the recommended amount is now 5-9 servings of fruits/vegetables a day) by learning new tasty, nutritious recipes. This Sunday, December 6th come by our Healthy Cooking Demo: Easy Soups and Simple Salads to get new ideas on how to keep your meals budget friendly and health friendly this winter season.

You can also spread the love of the veggies this season with a gift certificate to the farm that can be used in the Sweetwater Market Stall on Sundays or towards a CSA share.  Gift certificates are available for purchase at the Sunday Market.

In farm news, we have hit lettuce season!  Over the coming months you’ll notice many different varieties and types of lettuces at the farm. Below are types of lettuces we grow:

-Looseleaf Lettuce: Often colorful, open headed lettuce
-Cos or Romaine Lettuce: Open, tall heads with strong, crunchy leaves
-Butterhead Lettuce: Open heads with thin leaves that are known to “melt in your mouth”
-Batavian Lettuce: Known for having thick crunchy leaves

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Now is the time to plant

It’s time to get our planting faces on.

Plants in the trays, plants on the bench, plants in the greenhouse, plants growing up the fence.  Well, maybe not quite that extreme but we’ve got some planting to do.  In the greenhouse we have our lettuces, aromatics, and late winter vegetables turning out to the fields in droves.  Our push seeder is spewing out root vegetable seeds like a cowboy spitting sunflower seed shells.

Basically, HELP we’re lost in plants.   If you or your organization, group, club, or knitting circle is interested in volunteering we could certainly use your hands in the dirt.  We have volunteers out five days a week on Wednesday-Sunday to work in the fields seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, or washing vegetables.  Check out our volunteer page here or contact us for more information. We hope to see you in the fields soon!

Hardening Shed with Crops ready to go into the fields

Hardening Shed with Crops ready to go into the fields

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What’s afoot in the seed trays

With the kids away for Thanksgiving break, experimentation is afoot. Caroline, our Education Program Manager, is experimenting with Hydro-priming her seeds in the education gardens while she takes a break from teaching visiting students.  Hydro-priming is a technique where a farmer soaks their seeds in water to make the germination process go faster, improve seed establishment in the soil, and has been shown to enhance plant growth.  Basically, this technique jump starts the germination process for the seed.  If Caroline’s experiments in her education garden go well the farmers may integrate the hydro-priming technique for crops with lower seed germination rates such as beets, chard, parsley, and fennel.

hps2

Seeds soaking in water for Hydro-Priming

With the holiday breaks coming up we need more hands in the fields!  If you have some extra time off of work or school, we’d love to see you at the farm for field volunteering.  Our mantra these days is seeding, planting, weeding, harvesting, washing, repeat! For information on volunteering please go to our Volunteer FAQs page or email Michi at volunteer@sweetwater-organic.org

We are thankful for our community that supports our small farm and wish you all a safe and happy week.

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Lights, Camera, Action!

Lights! (are strung), Camera! (for the photo booth), Action! (party)

Today is the day we’ve been seeding, planting, and sweating for– its the harvest celebration Planter’s Ball! Throughout the day we have over 40 volunteers coming to get the farm and food ready and we are anticipating 250 guests.  Tickets are still available until 2pm for online purchase or you get them at the door until we’re sold out.

Big whooping thank you to our farmers who will be pulling a long day in the fields harvesting all the goodies for dinner and staying late to join the bash!

See you tonight!

Thank you to our phenomenal farm sponsors at WUSF, Creative Loafing, Uncle Matt’s Juice, M.E. Wilson, Garber Dental, Mauricio Faedo’s Bakery, Vigo Imports and Global Organics. Thank you to Tracy Copes for designing the flyers and tickets.

Big hugs to our “Friends are Family” Table sponsors: Beth Alden, Doug King, and Scott Wetmore.

organic integrity logoGarber Dental

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It Must Be Planter’s Ball Time

Our fruiting vegetables are rolling out out of the fields with the farmers and greens fan the landscape at the farm at this time of year. Which means it must be Planter’s Ball time.

Planter’s Ball is an annual celebration at our farm to welcome the harvest season and bring our community together.  This celebration also raises vital funds for the farm to continue its educational programming and reach more students.

Little ones can join us early in the evening for kids activities and playing while adults may enjoy live music and beverages from Saint Somewhere Brewery and Vintage Wine Cellars.  Dinner will then begin at 7:00 with a Farm Fresh Salad, Eggplant Bake, and Vegetable Chili.  Afterwards stay to chat over a drink, dance to the Sunset Bridge Band, and peruse the silent auction area.

We’d love to have you join us at this outdoor, tasty event. Get your tickets early at a discount by clicking here.  Or volunteer with us in the evening and you still get to enjoy the festivities and help a great fundraiser.  To volunteer please email volunteer@sweetwater-organic.org

Also big hugs and thank yous to the generous sponsors that support our small farm and agriculture education! Beth Alden, Doug King, WUSF, Creative Loafing, Uncle Matt’s Juice, M.E. Wilson, Garber Dental, Mauricio Faedo’s Bakery, Tampa Catholic Class of 1971, Vigo Imports and Global Organics. Thank you to Tracy Copes for designing the flyers and tickets.

organic integrity logo
 Garber Dental
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Tell Kale Heart

With Halloween this Saturday, many observe the spooky traditions enjoyed on this evening. One probably overlooked, however, involves a seasonal vegetable received often during the fall months: Kale.
Yes, this trendy salad green was used as a matchmaking tool in historic Scotland and Ireland. October 31 marks the last day of the ancient Celtic calendar. According to ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, the supernatural, including spirits, were free to roam the night and into the morning of November 1. This represented the blurring of lines between this world and the next. Celts believed the presence of these spirits allowed for the Celtic priests to better predict the future.  During the festival to ward off bad spirits, the youth would participate in superstitious activities that they believed to bring good fortune and predict their marital statuses. One of these festivities, Pou (Pull) the Stalks, required the young, eligible men and women to uproot kale stalks while blindfolded. After choosing their respective stalks, each stalk would be analyzed to discern information about each participant’s future spouse.

 

Characteristics of the stalks revealed signs about their future partner. For example, a short  and stunted stalk meant the participant’s future spouse would be just that, short and stalky. The flavor, as well, determined the disposition of the potential partner such as bitter or sweet. Moreover, the amount of dirt remaining on the stalk post determined the dowry size one was to expect from their future husband or wife’s family. If the root was clean, poverty was in store.

 

Today, kale is no longer viewed as a clairvoyant tool that could give websites like Eharmony a run for their money. If you would prefer to eat kale instead of utilizing its predictive powers, here’s a recipe for Colcannon , a traditional kale dish cooked on Hallows’Eve.  Remember though, if someone finds a mysterious ring in her food, she will be the next to marry. However, beware of the thimble –this forecasts a life of loneliness. The safest bet may be just to stick with candy.
Happy Halloween!
Colcannon
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 25 min.
Ingredients:
●4 russet potatoes
●2 Tbsp salt
● 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (extra butter needed for serving)
●3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale
●½ cup of minced green onions (about 3 green onions incl
uding their greens)
●1 cup of milk or cream
Steps:
1.Place the potatoes in medium pot. Fill the pot with cold water so the potatoes are covered by at least an inch.
2.Add salt and bring to boil. Boil potatoes until tender (15 to 20 minutes.) Drain in the colander.
3.  Set pot over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot, adding the greens once hot.
Cook the kale for 3-4 minutes. (The kale should be wilted and given off some of its
water.)
4.Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute longer.
5.Pour in the milk or cream and mix well.
6.Add the potatoes. Reduce heat to medium.
7.Mash potatoes with a fork or potato masher, mixing them with the kale.
8.Add more salt for taste if necessary. Serve hot with 1-2 Tbsp of butter in the middle.
Variation: Sub out half of the potatoes for parsnips. Add chives, leeks, or bacon too.

Story from Small Farm Central. This recipe was first published by Simple Recipes

 

Entitled “The Cromartie Fool”by Richard Waitt, this portrait depicts the jester of a Scottish laird who presided over Halloween festivities. After men and women pulled out the stalks of kale, they would make torches out of them by placing candles at the top. This portrait is displayed in the National Galleries of Scotland.

Entitled “The Cromartie Fool”by Richard Waitt, this portrait depicts the jester of a
Scottish laird who presided over Halloween festivities. After men and
women pulled out the stalks of kale, they would make torches out of them by placing candles at the top. This portrait is displayed in the National Galleries of Scotland.

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The Farm Godfather

Did you know there’s a connection between Halloween and one of our top crops, Kale?  Its an ancient story of love, matchmaking, and potatoes. Get inspired to bring kale into your celebration, and maybe even love life, by reading the story here.

 
In other green news, Rick Martinez the founder of the farm was recently awarded the Green Godfather Award by Creative Loafing at the Best of the Bay awards!  Rick would like to thank the community for this award, “I feel this is an award for everyone who has contributed to Sweetwater over the years.  We have all been pioneers in the local food movement together, our farm teams, volunteers, and most of all, our many members who have made it all possible.  We are all Green Godfathers by doing our part in creating a better, more sustainable Tampa”.

 
Now, we are looking for a couple of folks to volunteer in our Yoga classes and at Planter’s Ball.  We need a couple volunteers who are Yoga Alliance 200 hour certified yoga teachers and who’d be interested in volunteer teaching at the farm for the karma. If you’re interested please contact Susan at susaneoliver@gmail.com

 
Planter’s Ball is coming up on November 14th and we still need a lot of volunteers to make this event a success.  Please email us at volunteer@sweetwater-organic.org if you’re able to come help.  We have volunteer tasks throughout the day that range from set up, break down, food prep, serving food, and kids activities.  You also get to come for free if you volunteer!

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