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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Grow Local, Buy Local, Eat Local: The Trend is Strong in Southwest Florida

Jul 01, 2014 10:21AM ● By Linda Sechrist

The U.S. organic food market is expected to maintain a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent until 2018, according to a TechSci Research report. While this reflects projected long-term national growth, Lee and Collier counties offer tangible evidence of the trend in our backyards.

Inyoni Organic Farm

Nick Batty owns Inyoni, a six-acre, certified organic farm in Naples. “I grow varieties of greens, tomatoes, squash, melons beets, turnips, onions, radishes, Swiss chard, kale and Asian spinach, which is getting more popular,” he says enthusiastically. “Demand for different varieties of produce grows as people learn how to prepare them. Ten years ago I could put kale on my table at the Old Naples Farmers’ Market, and there was still plenty left when it was time to close. Today, I have none left because people have realized the nutritional value of kale and are using it for more than a garnish.”

Rock Rd., Naples. 239-980-3605.

Wild Heritage Farm

While the five-acre Wild Heritage Farm is certified organic, owners Ken Alaimo and Terrence Tessarzik call it “ biological” rather than organic. “The reason we distinguish ourselves is because organic certification allows farmers to use organic pesticides and fertilizers,” explains Alaimo. “We don’t. We spent three years focusing on building up very healthy soil so we don’t have to use chemical fertilizers.”

With Manager Danielle Reinersten on board, the farm is growing. “This year we farmed two-and-a-half acres, and we plan on planting all five acres for the upcoming growing season,” promises Alaimo.

7575 Sanders Blvd., Naples. 239-248-8938.

31 Produce

Mike Greenwell, the retired major league baseball player and owner of 31 Produce, in Alva, has been expanding his family farm since opening in 2009. Now with 80 acres, Greenwell uses organic growing methods to yield 70 percent of the produce sold at the onsite farmers’ market, which he supplements with goods from other local farms. In July 2013, Greenwell added a farm-to-table restaurant where at least four side dishes are made daily from the farm’s fresh produce. “Florida Senate Bill 1106, passed in 2013, supports Florida’s agritourism and allows small farmers to do more. For example, we can offer cooking and canning classes, camps and farm tours,” he affirms.

18500 State Rd. 1, Alva. 239-818-8213.

Collier Family Farms

The certified organic Collier Family Farms, now managed by Stephen Massie, is entering its third growing season. “We started with 60 different crops and began making changes after we saw what stumped our CSA (community supported agriculture) members. For instance, even though we included recipe suggestions, rutabaga and kohlrabi weren’t well accepted because people didn’t know what to do with them,” Massie explains. “Beginning in November, we’re trying a new pickup approach; we’ll bring all the CSA produce to one farmers’ market in the Marques Plaza at the intersection of Pine Ridge and Livingston roads. Members, who get a discount can make their own selections, along with the general public.”

5321 Ave Maria Blvd., Ave Maria. 239-207-5231.

Food & Thought: The Organic General Store

Jameson Johnson was proud to take over managing Food & Thought–The Organic General Store, founded by Frank Oakes, a community icon who died in 2013. Frank’s son, Alfie Oakes, runs Oakes Farms, also established by Frank, which grows certified organic produce for the store and other local businesses. Alfie recently purchased 10 acres, which will also be certified organic, next to the original five. “Everything is still done the permaculture way,” avows Johnson. “A bucket of worm castings placed in each row, a cold-pressed fish and seaweed foliar spray is used on the leaves and of course, we compost.”

2132 Tamiami Trail N, Naples. 239-213-2222.

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