The Great Sunflower Project

•July 29, 2009 • 4 Comments

Through shady practices, I have somehow been receiving a magazine called Sunset, which is about living in the West Coast. Though I never ordered it, I do enjoy reading it, and this month’s issue had an article on The Great Sunflower Project. The project is similar to people logging views of birds to determine their populations, but this is done with bees. The organizer, Gretchen LeBuhn, sends out packets of Lemon Queen Sunflower seeds to participants who plant them, then log the activity, or lack thereof, of bees coming to the flowers. It’s pretty incredible, really. You can help by signing up and requesting seeds, or, if you want seeds for free, just email the Jacksonville Seed Exchange to get going on this great project; I have 100 certified organic Lemon Queen Sunflower seeds available, give or take. Please keep me posted if you do this; I’d like to know how bees are doing in Jacksonville.


Vote for Beaches Green Market!

•June 22, 2009 • 1 Comment is having a contest to vote on your favorite farmer’s market. The one Im voting for is the Beaches Green Market in Neptune Beach, Florida, and they actually award prizes to the winners! Yeah, quite the incentive.

According to Gretchen at the Beaches Green Market, if you vote for them, then you officially get a vote as to how they spend a portion of any winnings (specific live music, free food or drinks at the Market, Market party, activities, events, workshops, instructors, paying off the parking lot attendant..haha… whatever you can imagine that would benefit the community through the Market!) It’s for all of us that make the Market what it is!

Top Prize: $5,000!

Each week, a randomly picked market gets $250!

You can also be a TOP RECRUITER and win $50 cash!

Here’s the website:

Pass it along!!

Don’t forget to come by the BLFN table and get your free bumper sticker!

Here’s what I wrote:

<blockquote>With humble beginnings, Gretchen and the Beaches Green Market have proven themselves to be the model market. Too many markets don’t have standards; this one does. They are very choosy in who they allow to join; prefer organic offerings and true farmers; and offer full disclosure so consumers know exactly what they’re purchasing. In addition, they care! They have a garden for school children, and do workshops to show kids how to grow their own food. They offer workshops, teaching people how to do it on their own. I couldn’t ask for a better market.</blockquote>

Hunger Highway Plan, or Freeway Feeding

•June 18, 2009 • 2 Comments

The National Highway System is approximately 160,000 miles (256,000 kilometers) of roadway important to the nation’s economy, defense, and mobility.

A lot of it is landscaped already and much is concrete or metal barriers. This still leaves a lot of fallow land.

If America were to plant potatoes, maize, rice, and wheat on even 50% of the available land in medians, we would easily be able to feed ourselves. The homeless could be paid stipends to plant, tend, and harvest the food and could keep a portion for themselves.

In Jacksonville, the situation is similar – many acres of grassy area on our roads that could be put to good use.

This project would need sponsors, farmers, nurseries, or seed companies willing to donate the seed to start it, volunteers to organize and plant, proper permissions, and much more, but it would be well worth it.

St. Johns Town Center Farmers Market

•June 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

There’s a new farmer’s market that will debut this Friday, June 12th inside the St. Johns Town Center!



The new St. Johns Farmers Market will be located inside Jacksonville’s newest and busiest shopping mall – the St. Johns Town Center! 

The market will be open every Friday, rain or shine, all year round, from 3pm to 8pm. 

Fresh, locally grown produce, fresh baked bread, arts and crafts, barbeque ribs, ice cream, kettle corn, hot dogs, local artists, native plants and herbs, handmade items, fresh roasted coffee, and many, many more items will be available. Lots of music, magicians, kids activities, face painting, etc. Guaranteed to provide a great shopping experience and fun for the whole family!

It’ll be a great way to way to help shorten the wait time for your dinner reservations.

Jacksonville Seed Exchange wishes our newest farmer’s market the best!

To become a sponsor,vendor, entertainer, etc at the SJTC Farmers Market, please contact the Market Managers, Martin or Purity by sending an email to:

Know Your Produce Labels!

•April 10, 2009 • 3 Comments

Thanks to the Beaches Local Food Network newsletter, I can now decipher the numbers on produce labels.

== A four-digit number is conventionally grown (pesticides and fertilizers can be used)
== A five-digit number beginning with a “9” means it’s organic.
== A five-digit number beginning with an “8” means it’s genetically modified (GM). DON’T BUY THESE!

From the newsletter-

As I’m eating my delicious organic citrus breakfast, I’m reading an article about genetically modified foods (GM) that a former community garden member gave us last week. While I already realize how incredibly damaging GM foods can be to our health and the sustainability of our species as a whole (thus eating my organic citrus) I still get angry when I read about it. At this point in my life, my goal is to not get angry at the wrongs in our world, but to do what I can to find realistic solutions and focus on those instead– because, well, positivity is healthier for us than bitterness and anger. And I don’t want them to kill me on two fronts– first with the GM foods (or whatever the issue) and second with the anger. haha! **you should laugh here… it’s healthy. and also, i feel obligated to share the following, which may make you angry, so i must offset that somehow. :-)

So the point of this article is actually very good! Even though the USDA in the US of A would rather support the GMO giants than look out for the health of their citizens and the biodiversity of our planet (money talks!), there is a little way you can tell which produce is GM. (Yes, if you didn’t know, GM products do not have to be labeled here — one of the only industrialized countries where this is the case.) On those little produce stickers, this is what you look for:

== A four-digit number is conventionally grown (pesticides and fertilizers can be used)
== A five-digit number beginning with a “9” means it’s organic.
== A five-digit number beginning with an “8” means it’s GM. DON’T BUY THESE!

Besides the fact that GM products only became available in the early 90’s, so there has not been sufficient evidence on the long-term effects, the short-term effects have already been proven devastating! This includes infertility in the animals who are eating GM feed, cancer from GM potatoes in rats, and a five-fold increase in mortality and lower birth weights! On top of all of this, GM crops threaten to contaminate non-GM crops and even those that are labeled organic through cross-pollination! A future that I sure hope none of us live to see. You may be thinking “that can’t be so… how can our own USDA, designed to make sure our food is safe, be the very culprit of feeding us hidden, unchecked poisons??”. I guarantee you , this is the case. And people have been fighting it for years.

Here’s some tips on things not to buy:
Soy, corn, cottonseed, canola— These are almost always GM, unless labeled “organic”. These crops are also found in a wide variety of processed foods under names like maltodextrin and high-fructose corn syrup. Also, milk containing rbGH, aspartame (NutraSweet) and rennet in non-organic hard cheeses.

Remember, if we don’t buy them, they won’t keep producing them! We must vote with our dollars!

Gretchen always has good tips like these in her newsletter, and this I didn’t know before. A couple of other things I’d like to add- companies such as Monsanto (the largest maker of GM seeds) take away the right to save seed. Seed saving allows people to feed themselves; Monsanto creates “terminator” seeds that do not produce seed after planted, forcing farmers to continue to pay for seeds. Monsanto doesn’t allow scientific testing on its seeds. It also litigates them with zeal. If I am a farmer, and I plant Monsanto seed, and some of my seed somehow cross-pollinates with an organic farmer a mile down the road, Monsanto can sue both me and the organic farmer. This is because they force farmers to sign contracts not to share the seed, and that anyone who grows their seed who hasn’t signed a contract (even if by accident- such as windblown seeds) is, in effect, stealing their product. These are all great reasons to avoid GM foods! Remember this little rhyme that I came up with to remember food label codes- 5 with 9, all is fine; 5 with 8, inadequate!

Operation New Hope Looking for Partners for Eastside Community Garden

•April 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

With Easter right around the corner, this is always a good time of year to think about and help out anyone you can. I received an email from Shakera Bailey, the community organizer with Operation New Hope, a non-profit that works to revitalize and sustain economically and ethnically diverse communities in and around Jacksonville’s urban core.

ONH is looking for groups, business, or agencies of any kind to partner with them in assisting the Eastside Community Garden, which will be located next to A. Phillip Randolph Park on the SW corner of Phelps & Spearing Street.

The full details that I received from her:

Dear Mike,
My name is Shakera Bailey and I am the community organizer with Operation New Hope INC. Operation New Hope, INC. is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Community Development Corporation that works to revitalize and sustain economically and ethnically diverse communities in and around Jacksonville’s urban core. We do this by rebuilding communities one house and one life at a time. Operation New Hope has two divisions- ONH Development, which develops new homes for first-time buyers in our targeted neighborhoods; and the Ready4Work Division, which assists the re-entry efforts of ex-offenders who have completed incarceration and wish to find long-term gainful employment in the local community.

Operation New Hope is looking for community agencies and businesses to partner with for the Eastside Community Garden. The garden will be located next to A. Phillip Randolph Park on the SW corner of Phelps & Spearing Street. We are currently in the planning stages and would like your assistance. Operation New Hope has built 66 homes on the Eastside and in Springfield. This has brought 66 hard-working, honest, low to moderate income families into this area. But, as you know there is still so much to be done. Community gardens serve many purposes and have many benefits, some of which include: recreation & exercise, therapy, reducing family food budgets while increasing food security, social interaction, beautification, a sense of community, reducing crime and vandalism, constructive family time alternatives, fresh food and improved nutrition, and joy. The Eastside Community Garden will be one of the pivotal parts of what needs to be done in order to reduce childhood obesity, lower the infant mortality rate, and most importantly bring back a sense of community.

We are requesting you help in getting our garden off the ground due to your passion for gardening. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks In Advance

Shakera T. Bailey

Jacksonville Seed Exchange will be donating seeds to ONH for use at the Eastside Community Garden.

If you can help in any way, or know of anyone who can help out with the garden, whether through donations of funds, time, supplies, or in volunteering, please contact Shakera Bailey at, or call 904-354-4673. Please spread the word, and above all, have a Happy Easter.

Seed Exchange / Swap at Beaches Green Market – April 4, 2-5 PM

•March 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

There will be a seed swap / exchange at the Beaches Green Market, who is also sponsoring it.

Details that I received:
Seed Exchange
April 4th, 2-5 p.m.
Beaches Green Market
Jarboe Park, Neptune Beach (intersection of A1A and Florida Blvd. Click for a map.)

Please bring your seeds-fruits, vegetables, herbs, or flowers, packaged in 10 or 20 count. Include any special growing instructions and whether they are organic or conventional. There is no cost associated with this event. We want to encourage you to be your own farmer!

You can direct questions to

Let’s have a great seed swap!

Jacksonville Seed Exchange will be there.. we hope you will too!