Friday, December 19, 2008

Why I Have Changed My Mind About Florida

I'm not much of a Florida person. I moved here to be with my husband, but quite against my will had it not been necessary at the time.

I'm not a beaches person, though they're stunningly beautiful.
I don't relish over-100 degree fahrenheit temps.
I don't appreciate over-priced properties.
Not a huge fan of constant tourist influxes.
Hurricanes are low on my list of favorite weather systems.
Florida architecture? Hmmm.
Palm tree vs. oak tree? Oak tree.
Trout stream vs. swamp? Oh trout stream, how I long for thee.
I won't even tell you how it feels when you have to go north to be in the South.

And so on and so on.

Until today...

when my hubby surprised me and took me for a day trip to an ECHO test site...where they test seeds/plants and grow crops and forest gardens to help train workers headed for underdeveloped countries, and they experiment with crops suitable for different climates with indigenous plants and plants with multiple uses.

And methods that are not technology-dependent.
And no-till/pro-permaculture methods of farming.
And an emphasis on small farming rather than big agriculture.
And an emphasis on finding solutions for food shortages and poverty by training people in self-sufficiency, especially agriculture.

Oh, and they have chickens (and other animals).

This was like paradise.

And here are some reasons that today I changed my mind about Florida. At least when it comes to gardening...

Keep in mind it's late December now. Here are some scenes that greeted us today -- none have been altered in any way. You can click on each picture to get a better idea of why it was so glorious being there up close and personal...

I'll post more about what we saw, but for now, I just wanted to share some eye candy. EVERY tree seemed to be loaded with fruits. We got to taste a lot of plants we'd never tasted...yum! There was so very much to see, there just was not time enough to take it all in. We'll have to make future trips and hopefully be allowed to wander through and savor each part, really get a good look at a lot of their innovations, really study the plants and make a good plant list, see how they dealt with different topographical and climate specifics...and so on. I won't even tell you about the nursery till many multiple-use plants and so many plants I've never heard of, wooo...FUN!!

We didn't leave unscathed. We did purchase a jujube sapling, a few seeds, and a 6 dollar old book entitled Folk Remedies of the Low Country by Julia Morton.

I have to go now...we walked and walked and walked all morning and now I'm tired. I was able to be with my sweetie all day, which is the best sort of day to have!

I'll share more about our jaunt as I can this week. I hope everyone has a wonderful night and day tomorrow :)

We're now heading into the last hours before nightfall and I have to get some things done before shabbat begins.

Hug the ones you love and stay warm, all you who are in The Real U.S.A....ha :) I hope your week was great!

Shabbat shalom :)


Wrensong Farm said...

What a great place to go visit! Can't wait to hear/see more about it. Right now I would LOVE to be in Florida, my feet are burning with a little frostbite right now....:)

Shelby said...

Wonderful! Looks like you had a fabulous time.

Pam Croom said...

Wow, do show more! Where is the Echo test farm?

I can relate to not particularly belonging to Florida. It is flat for one thing. When we lived in FL, I named all the bumps in the yard after mountains in the Alaska Range. My husband was disturbed by this and thought he definitely had to get me out of Florida; that is...until he started calling the bumps by their mountain names! I miss the plants tho! You are right on there. Even though I lived in 9b zone, it was never enough I'd push what you could grow there. I miss being able to compost in no time flat. I'd gather seaweed after storms, rinse it, and put it in compost. I made great compost there.

The tourists, bike week, and a good portion of the retirees I don't miss.

Jujubes!!! I wanted jujube trees. I thought about experimenting with them in AL-in theory I think I can grow them. Do you have a loquat? We had one by our drive, and we'd graze all February each time we wen to the car.

Queenie said...

Four of us are heading down from frozen Maine for a week with Florida friends in February or March. Where is the Echo test farm? We would love to put in on our list of wonderful stuff to do....thanks so much for the green - a welcome sight when all is white outside my window.

Robbyn said...

Wren, keep warm! It is a great place for a day trip :)

Shelby, yes :)

Pam, I was laughing at your description of the flatness of Florida and your naming the bumps in your yard after mountains. My favorite places usually include mountains :) The lack of hills and other landforms is one of the things on my not-so-happy-about list, but not all of Florida is flat...just 90%, ha! The ECHO test farm is in North Fort Myers, and is a christian-run orginization. They are mostly concerned with the farm aspect and are open to the public at different times.

Queenie, here is the link to their directions :
They have an excellent bookstore, nursery, and a pretty decent seed bank. We mostly loved the farm itself...just so much going on there, we could have spent a week, and really wanted to pitch in and get our hands dirty!

Kathie said...

Wow, what a great trip!

Country Girl said...

That is great that your hubby introduced you to that place. I cannot even imagine going outside to pick something to eat Mid December. That is certainly one of the good things about Florida. I would love to visit there some day. Looking forward to reading more about what you learned.

Wrensong Farm said...

Hi Robbyn, I just wanted to wish you a Happy Hanukkah! Tammy at Wrensong

Gina said...

Happy Hanukkah, Robbyn!!

Eye candy, alright. Today at around -7 or so, I am thinking Florida sounds pretty good! :)

Alex Polikowsky said...

Great! Go ahead and make me jealous,
I got Oak Trees and Trout streams.
But there is almlost a foot of snow outside and its -5 not counting the wind chill!
I won't be able to plant anything until May ( outside).
I am not for hot and humid weather either but ...

farm mom said...

Ahhh...lvely. Thanks for sharing the greenery. It's starting to head into that time of the year where I forget that green is even possible!! :)

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

You know what they say, "Bloom where you are planted." Looks like you took a big step in that direction, and that deserves a big hug. I love it here and hope to never leave, but should the Lord lead us elsewhere, I'll pray for an attitude of gratitude wherever it is....

CatHerder said...

sounds like an awesome day! and those pics are THE reason I want to move to Florida..hubby just wants the beaches :-)...especially on days like today when it was 6 degrees when we woke up

Christina said...

My sweet darling long distance friend. I came home last night and low and behold, in the mail pile, was the sweetest thing I have gotten all season. Thank you so much for your thoughts this holiday season. I think I smiled all evening!

Now to the subject at hand.... Florida has some great pluses and some minuses. I lived there for 9 years. I missed the seasons. I have now been gone for 8 years. I am very seriously considering returning. The main pull is that 2 of my 3 children live there and with them my grand babies. My youngest is growing up and flying the coop so to speak. Also, I can live the life style there .... my company has opportunities there.... I am hoping to return next year sometime! We shall see. One of the first things I want to do is to go have a cup of coffee with you my dear friend! Happy Holidays!

Maria said...

Wow! That place looks awesome!!! I'd love to visit there some day!


Oh my goodness this sounds wonderful!

Rechelle said...

I love walking around a garden... any garden... there is nothing more wonderful.

Robbyn said...

Kathie, it was fun :)

Kim, thanks! I'm a bit behind writing about it since I was sick last week... hopefully this week I'll get some more of the pics and post more info :)

Tammy, thanks! I hope you had a great holiday!

Gina, thanks :) Come on down and thaw out, girl! Hope your New Year is great :)

Alex...oak trees, trout streams, ah, bliss! Enjoy your winter, for those of us who don't get any :)

Angie, it's actually 80 out today...the green is coming back and I wonder if it'll get a few wallops of frost before summer? :)

Michelle, you're so right... home is wherever you're supposed to be. For me, it's where my hubby is...SO glad he's not in Antarctica! ha

Catherder, wooo, you're cold! Send me some snow :)

Christina, I'll put it on the calendar if you promise not to take any pictures of the fat girl, ha! It's really nice down here, but the heat is on the opposite end of the oppression end compared to, some years it just fries here. I'll be so interested to see if you end up relocating...keep me posted, my friend!

Maria, I think you'd love it!

Sweethearts mom, such a great place, too much to take in all at once :)

Rechelle, mine too! Except I don't know if you'd get a particular high strolling through my garden of 5 gallon buckets, ha...someday they'll all be planted in the ground