Touring our local farms

by Tallahassee Table
A cute critter at Millstone Plantation.

Many of us are patrons of the wonderful farmers’ markets in town or order from the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance online market, but actually visiting these local farms is a special opportunity that gives us all a better idea of the hard work and dedication it takes to work the land or make your own products.

I’m hoping lots of you took advantage of that opportunity this weekend during the 12th Annual Farm Tour, with more than 30 participating farms and nurseries in North Central Florida and South Central Georgia. 

My husband and I visited a few destinations though there were so many that we didn’t get to see. 

We learned quite a bit at each place we visited. Our stops included the Leon County Extension Service (UF/IFAS) Demonstration Garden where we tried to soak up the great info from the volunteers sharing tips and samples of items like aji dulce peppers, lettuce and spinach.

Janis Piotrowski, master gardener and volunteer at the extension service, dug up some jerusalem artichokes, small tubers that add crunch to dishes. 

Piotrowski gave us some of the artichokes to take home to plant. We saved a few to slice and add to our salad Sunday night.

Volunteers also gave us roselle hibiscus plants and seeds with directions for making tea and jam, We tried a cup of the tea at the extension service and it was so refreshing, just delightful.  Recipe below.

If you’re interested in learning more about gardening, the service offers master gardening classes among their other services. The agency is at 615 Paul Russell Road; 850-606-5200.

Millstone Plantation, which hosted the event, is a lovely farmstead in the north end of Tallahassee near Bradfordville. It was once a part of the Conrad family farm but it’s been set aside as a nonprofit offering classes and promoting sustainability. There we saw alpacas, goats, horses and donkeys. 

Vendors included bee farmers selling honey, “Oyster Mom” Deborah Keller and blacksmith John Pfund demonstrating his craft.

We wound up at Just Fruits & Exotics, at 30 Saint Francis Street in Crawfordville, which grows a wide variety of edible plants and trees including the pomegranate, Asian pear and a Sugar Cane Jujube Tree. I can’t seem to keep basil alive but the friendly staff introduced me to a heartier variety than the plant I buy at Publix and gave me directions for its care — keeping fingers crossed.

I’d love to hear about your visits during the farm tour. If you didn’t get to go, or like me, missed a bunch, many farms invite visitors, usually by appointment but get in touch. Y

Here’s info on our farmers’ markets — — or go to the Red Hills Small Farm Alliance Online Market, where you can find dozens of local produce, meats, bread, honey, plants and other goods. 

FYI, the online market has recently changed its main distribution hub to 1940 N Monroe St Suite #76 (not far from the old location), between Tallahassee Ballet and Anytime Fitness just around the corner of the Northwood Center in what was formerly What Café. 

Here’s the recipe for the drink made from the roselle or Jamaican Sorrel plant. It makes about 12 concentrated cups.

About 3 cups fresh or frozen roselle calyxes (outside petals), seeds removed. (I used 1 1/2 cups and it was plenty strong)

Use any of these:
Large 2-inch slice of fresh pineapple peeled and cubed (no need to core it) or a small can of pineapple in its own juice.
1 piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced in thin coins for flavor or chopped/grated for stronger flavor. In a pinch use ginger spice (what I did)
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange sliced with rind
3-5 cloves (I used the powder)

To prepare:
Bring ingredients to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Cool and let sit in the refrigerator overnight. Strain through cheesecloth or coffee filter. The drink will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or freeze in one-cup measurements.

To make tea, add 6 cups brewed tea (decaf or regular), 3/8 cup sugar, maple syrup or sugar-free sweetener to taste, 1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional) to the roselle drink.

Here’s a list of the locations that were on the farm tour in case you want to learn more about them:

A&B Produce Farm, Apalachee Farms, Arrowhead Beef Farm, Artzi Organic Veggies & Pita Queen (they’re at Lake Ella Wednesday and Saturday), Backwoods Crossing (also a terrific farm-to-table restaurant), Cindale Farms and Southern Craft Creamery (they make the award-winning ice cream), Deep Roots Meat, Earthshine Acres Farm, Frenchtown Heritage Hub & Market, Frenchtown Urban Farm Compost Community, Glendower Farms, Golden Acres Ranch, Handsome Harvest Farm, In the Garden, Johnston’s Old Fashioned Meat Market (they have a doughnut shop and sandwiches, too), Just Fruits & Exotics, Leon County Extension Office Demonstration Garden, Liberty Farms (grows items for Liberty Bar, The Hawthorne and El Cocinero), Millstone Plantation, Monticello Vineyards & Winery at Ladybird Organics, Ocheesee Creamery, Orchard Pond Organics, Paradise Found Farms, Pine Dove Farm, SunBlest Gardens, The Dwellings Community Center, Timber Bamboo and Treehouse Permaculture Center.

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