When most people think of Florida, they think of retirees, vacation resorts, and strange politics, but I think this place shows the potential of Florida. It could be a permaculture paradise instead of an eyesore. In this video, I continue the tour of ECHO Farm in Ft Myers, FL. Useful plants familiar to us, used-everyday-but-never-seen, and very unusual are on display in this tropical oasis in the desert of malls and condos. You should go there sometime in person, but until then you can take a little trip there in this video.
If you are ever in Florida, you have to check this place out. I was able to catch a ride down to ECHO Farms in Ft Myers, FL with the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition of St Pete for their annual open house event. I’d known about this place for years, but hadn’t ever been. It surpassed even all the amazing things I’d heard about it. These next two videos are about the established gardens at ECHO, but I’ve also got footage about the many different sustainable systems they’ve implemented at their farm and that they share with people in Third World countries to help them become more self sufficient. But these systems aren’t just for people somewhere else. They are perfectly usable anywhere in the world. I’ll be doing separate videos about those systems and about the fruit tree nursery, where you can buy potted versions of everything you see in this video, plus much more.
One of the big reasons I wanted to go to Florida for the winter was to be able to eat delicious tropical fruit in season. Like most other places, because of our inefficient market-driven food system, it’s difficult to find locally grown fruit in any local stores. I had to search everywhere. Even the St Pete farmers market had a sparse selection of in season local fruit–oranges, grapefruit, and the occasional papaya. Like most places, using land to grow food just doesn’t pay compared with using it for high rise condos and shopping malls, so even when you can find “local” produce, it comes from over a hundred miles away. Fortunately, I made it to ECHO farms (see future videos for the tour), and one of the local flea markets also featured a wide assortment of unusual, but easily locally grown, tropical fruit thanks to some southeast Asian vendors.
This is a more in depth tour of the garden with better quality footage to follow up on my previous garden and food forest videos. I’m amazed at how free off pests this garden is. It also combines fruit and vegetables in some places, so the plants can work together in true permaculture fashion. During winter the peach and nectarine trees have no leaves, so the winter greens and brassicas planted underneath can get plenty of sunlight. This garden produces abundant food for both the ecovillage and the surrounding community.
I already did a tour of the garden at the ecovillage here in St Petersburg, FL, but I left out the food forest, which takes up a section of the garden space and features a collection of tropical fruit trees. Examples of food production like this illustrate how easy it can be to grow your own fruit, but they also make me realize how disconnected people are from their food that they choose to buy fruit from a store that’s been shipped across the world instead of growing their own. These things seem to grow themselves with little effort, and the reward is a bounty of fresh fruit that tastes like nothing you could find at the store.
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St Pete is like a botanical garden. In certain yards and neighborhoods there is a diverse landscape of exotic tropical plants. For a gardener and horticulturalist like me, who hasn’t spent much time in the tropics it is an adventure just to ride my bike around. On this trip I happened across a very strange fruit on a strange tree.
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