We strive to provide a beautiful and fruitful ecosystem filled with a biodiversity of plants and insects. This fosters competition and helps keep insects and plant diseases in check. We do till our soil from time to time, but also use no till methods to keep our soil alive with bacteria and fungi that create mutually beneficial relationships with plants’ roots and enable veggies to uptake nutrients otherwise unusable to plants in the soil . We take growing delicious veggies very seriously and we hope that you can taste a difference!
When trying to make responsible decisions about your produce choices you may have to be a bit of an investigator these days. You may hear growers describing their farm as pesticide free or almost organic. I want to help educate you as to what farmers may be alluding to when selling you on their produce. Here are the cornerstones of Organic Agriculture, and here are some good questions to ask your farmer/grower so that you can make your own choices about what you are purchasing. Some of their answers may surprise you.
Permaculture is an agricultural method that fosters ecosystems to be sustainable and self-sufficient. This approach guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature. Here are a few examples of methods:
The focus of permaculture is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements, by the way they are placed together; the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
We do not use any pesticides on the farm. Chemical or Organic
(Yes, there are organic pesticides)
This means that we do step in fire ants from time to time but we also get to be witness to lady bugs eating aphids, as well as wasps and spiders taking care of hornworms and lacewings.
Many farmers may say that they only use pesticides when absolutely necessary. What do they do when they are devastated by an insect? How do they control ants around their farm?
We use hand labor to weed our farm. We also use mulches and cover crop to help suppress weeds.
Most vegetable farmers will not use herbicides directly around their crops, as it would damage the sensitive leaves of most annual crops, like vegetables. But ask your farmer if they use herbicides (like round up) in the summer months when they are not growing any crops?
We do not use any GMO seed or plants. We use many heirloom seeds and love to save seeds and share them. We also purchase Organic seeds
(all organic seeds are GMO free).
Seeds are not always labeled as GMO, instead they are often labeled as a protected or selected variety by the seed company. Ask your farmer if they ever buy a trademarked or protected plant variety? Please ask your farmer if they ever purchase treated seeds? Also, ask them if they start all their own transplants or if they purchase them from a nursery? When purchasing from a nursery you are not in control of what methods they are using and what seeds they are using.
We use a combination of compost, cover crop, chicken rotational grazing, companion planting, and crop rotation to help feed our soil.
Florida is not known for having as rich of soils as other parts of the country, but this does not mean that we cannot grow without the use of chemical fertilizers. Ask your farmer how he/she fertilizes their crops? Fertilizers may not seem as dangerous as pesticides to our health, but they are detrimental to our waterways, and with such a shallow water shed these Fertilizers are adversely affecting our Indian River each day. Please check out more information at floridatoday.com & planetnatural.com
When dealing with plant diseases we use compost to make teas to strengthen the plants. We rely on the strength of a healthy plant to recover, while we may have to prune back unhealthy parts and compost them.
Ask your farmer what they do for disease control? A big problem here in Florida is Nematodes, ask what they do to suppress Nematodes? Also, cucumbers and squash have many mold and bacterial diseases (like Downy Mildew or Bacterial Wilt); ask your farmer what they use to help stop these?
Green Flamingo not only specializes in growing top quality vegetables, but raises free range chickens as well. Along with seasonal organic produce, we have dedicated ourselves to raising the most content pastured poultry around. Raised on grass, scrap vegetables and chicken scratch, these birds live in the sunshine, forage the bugs, and have an active chicken life. We respect and work with nature by not using anything artificial such as growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides or chemicals of any kind.
The summer is the off season for farming in Florida and there is less diversity of fresh veg available. During the summer months (June-Oct) we join forces with other local farms to help keep our community fed. We do not stop eating in the summer, neither should you. We can't grow everything, so we connect with other local growers in cooperation, not competition.
Farmer Liz is the Owner/Operator of Green Flamingo. While travelling across the USA she fell in love with hiking and farming. She WWOOFed on farms around the country and decided to bring her joy and knowledge back to her community.
Liz loves to work hard, and enjoys being in the outdoors. When she is not farming she loves camping and hiking. She enjoys long distance backpacking and through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2016 with her husband, Gary.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, known simply as WWOOF, connects sustainable farmers with willing volunteers. WWOOFers, as they are known, learn about the organic movement and sustainable agriculture while receiving room and board. It is an educational and cultural exchange program where volunteers learn practical farming skills, become part of the organic agriculture movement and experience the heart of American agrarian culture. Host farms and WWOOFers exchange education, culture and sweat to bring forth wholesome agricultural products from organic farms world wide. They encourage all types of WWOOFers and hosts who would like to work together to strengthen sustainable agriculture. For more information visit the WWOOF-USA website: wwoofusa.org/
Check out this video about our farm!