- September 2, 2014
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This summer we have witnessed record heat temperatures in South Florida, besides the decrease in the precipitation and increased challenges of the Climate Change.
To tackle the challenges to Urban Farming in S. Florida one must seek the answer first from within to basic questions, among others:
Did we do our part to be PREPARED to grow our own food?Are we preserving the Florida Agriculture FARM land of precious muck and fertile soil for the future generations to grow food ?Do we have the EXPERIENCED LOCAL people on BOARD to provide farming expertise advice?
To start with one must admit that the agrarian/fertile land in S.Florida is shrinking tremendously every year .In the absence of laws and regulations to protect Agriculture Fertile land , the assault by DEVELOPERS to replace FARMS with CONCRETE BLOCKS like gated communities, mansions ,malls etc..Money talk.They have the upper hand. To find out , please read your local newspaper or google articles on “Mento west Wellington development” plan ,”Developing the Agri reserve”,”contaminated well water in the Acreage”. ..
Unfortunately :More fertile agriculture farm land is being considered for/transformed into DEVELOPMENTS .Visit to learn more:
Urban Farming Reality on paper:
Florida is a TRANSIT state. Lots of newcomers arrive to retire .It is also in a TRANSFORMATION state from Agriculture land to Developments land.
As more DEVELOPERS build transforming fertile soil into concrete blocks of “Malls, Gated “communities and what have you.Imposing own rules to RESTRICT and curtail Productive Urban Farming .Where will the future farms come from?
Russia has invaded Ukraine and the secret why is The FERTILE BLACK SOIL of EUROPE BREAD BASKET COUNTRY , in addition to the huge natural gas reserves of the Crimean Peninsula sea !Whereas the baffling reality here is we in USA at the same time here are replacing fertile soil and farm lands with developments at a fast pace rate ,without even giving a chance for regulators to preserve the Historic Farm land for future generations to gro own food…
Now we are stuck with the dilemma of growing food on demolished structures , given the example of few community gardens created or earmarked to be created on a mixture of soil . concrete debris,and God knows what of hazardous chemicals in between????
The Plight and Fight.Who cares ? Going it alone?
Reading the daily news about Urban Growers attempting to grow sometimes is discouraging.Too many challenges and too little support.Take the example of a story I read in the local news yesterday ,still fresh:
You may sprinkle some heavy metals like lithium,mercury,rocket fuel,pharmaceutical and manufacturing hazardous chemicals.Some of much more were/ are being detected on many soil grounds not to mention the water pollution .We stand still in shock .Are we alone fighting for survival of the fittest farmer /or fattest pocket??
Why no one cares about local fertile soil,urban growers,farms and farmland any more???Let us ask ourselves what have we done to ensure that we invest in urban farmers,community gardens.backyard farming and such in S.Florida .What we witness quite the opposite in some cities that have either demolished existing community gardens, or try to discourage urban growers by withholding support or by excessive regulations to CONTROL and CURTAIL growth of Urban Farming projects preferring good looking manucured landscape of expensive water wasting inefficient grass over edible plants that produce food !
Big Agri-business controls agriculture in S. Florida, supported by mainstream media and special interest lobby centers.So , what to do in the absence of support and fertile land? Where and how to grow our own food?The answe lies in our BACKYARDS!
Backyard farming is the new trend .Urban Growers are the new generation of farmers like the community garden is the new version of the Victory Garden.But who is listening or showing interest to DO IT???Who will help us confront the many challenges from climate change,disappearing fertile soil land,lack of financial incentives or educational opportunities to promote Organic Urban farming ,white fly infestations, to name the least!!
Lots of my garden enthusiast come to me with so many questions lamenting failed crops or lack of know how etc..” How to successfully grow my own food on my backyard that is sandy ,infested with nematodes or fruit trees infested with white flies , not to mention the buried God knows what of hazardous debris of chemicals and sort or the polluted water!!
Urban Farming challenges On the GROUND .
Lately I was approached by a new Urban Grower seeking advice.,He was attempting to farm on less than couple of acres at a combo of demolished structure- transit land .I advised him to test the soil and refrain from using cement block for raised bed structure .He found deposits of LITHIUM (Battery chemical) after the soil test .Instead , he told me he might be switching to container gardening for now !
Another example, agroup of new comers urban farmers, rented some acres land next to a nursery , but were confronted with challenges ranging from soil deficiency of nutrients ,organic matter ,sandy soil infested with nematodes, excessive heat .They were facing a potential failed crop in addition to the above ,add lack of experience and knowledge on farming in the S.Florida Sub-Tropical zone.
The stories of attempted Urban Farming and failing, or struggling to be less negative ,continues to surface as we tend to reach out for help and speak out .The future will show whether how much as more new comers flood the new found industry of Urban Farming continues to swell.
Here are some 10 FARMING ” COMMENDEMENTS ” to successfully grow your own food in the sub-tropical S.Florida and turn your “lemon ‘Challenges into” lemonade” solutions:
1-Consult an expert who has been there HANDS ON growing and consulting on the matter of growing local fruits and veggies.Take classes offered by local Urban Farmers who have extensive education and LOCAL EXPERIENCE. Beware fake fraudulent farmers.Ask for certifications,experience and current projects,web sites, reviews etc..
2-Test the water and soil , prior to commencing to work the land.
3-Start small. Small :space,containers and budget,
4-If you are growing from seeds or cuttings ,create a mini backyard nursery to EXPERIMENT .Chose area NOT exposed to EXCESSIVE HEAT,with adequate shade, away from pets and traffic or pollutants.
5-Solarize the soil to prevent weed and nematodes from taking over .I personally use a combo of vinegar, epsom salt, and hot water to spray away weeds, instead of using “WROUNG UP”.
6-Start preparing for the Fall Growing Season RIGHT NOW at SUMMER, rather than waiting for last minute preps! Grow seeds indoors if it is too hot outdoors.
7- Take your time to learn and apply.Farming and gardening is a PROCESS.BE PATIENT!
8-Learn garden Ergonomics” and switch to night time gardening if the HEAT and bugs bother you!
9-Hydrate and wear garden gear while gardening.
10-Take my ONGOING gardening classes .I am a certified Florida Horticulturist with more than 15 years of Hands On experience ..as well Heads on education..Or pick up offered by local Urban Farmers who have extensive education and LOCAL EXPERIENCE. Beware the fake fraudulent farmers.Ask for certifications,experience and current projects,web sites, reviews etc..10-
By the way..The growing fall season is next around and NOW is the time to be PREPARED.Take the first step and sign up for an ongoing gardening class of your choice or a home garden consultation.