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Farming with a purpose

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Posted: Friday, February 2, 2018 12:15 am

Residents and visitors alike look forward to the opening of the seasonal farmers’ markets.

Some have long, well-known histories as anyone who stands in line at Knaus Berry Farm can attest to. Others don’t endure and in the case of Redland Country Market and now Redland Community Farm and Market, they may be newcomers, but they also bring a unique dimension.

Both are sponsored by Redland Ahead, a non-profit formed to: “Work in unison with FIU to provide support to the FIU’s Agro-Ecology program in South Florida in expansion of the newly awarded FIU Hispanic Land Grant University status.

Support the training of underserved populations and Veterans to become farmers & explore careers in Agri-business in programs offered by FIU and UF (TREC).

Support training to improve the profitability from existing or future crops through university and private development of incubators, commercial kitchens and other ventures in the Redland community.”

For veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), a variety of therapies have been successful. Most, however, are not designed to lead to a new career. The FIU Program gives training that can indeed pave the way to a life in agriculture. Having a place to sell fruits and produce is the next step and last year Redland Ahead helped open the Redland Country Market in the historic Redland Farm Life School.

In addition to locally grown and organic offerings, individuals who

create wonderful honeys, jams, baked goods, and other delights sell their wares. Artists and artisans are welcome too and every Saturday from November to May, they are open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

With the first market well underway, on Friday, January 26th, a festive crowd attended the ribbon cutting of the Redland Community Farm and Market near Homestead Air Reserve Base.

One of the activities was a tour of the nearby organic farm. This twenty-two-acre farm at Verde Garden was established eight years ago as part of programs to provide training and employment opportunities for the homeless, which includes veterans. There are arrangements to provide goods to some local restaurants and within a few weeks, the harvest will be large enough to offer sales at the market.

John Mills, President and one of the founders of Redland Ahead, sees great potential. “Our Farm Operations Manager, Garfield Jarrett, is a graduate of the FIU program and he serves as a role model. He holds a full-time job at the Veterans Administration helping other veterans, runs the smaller farm in Redland, and the larger one.” 

Jarrett, who suffered combat injuries in Afghanistan, was raised in Jamaica around sugar cane fields and he’s looking forward to the new market becoming a familiar name.

And speaking of familiar names, Debbie Allen of Sweet Delights, “The Pie Lady”, is someone who will be on-hand with her delicious line of key lime pies. “We want everyone to know this is a community place, a place for food, fun, and to help train people who might start their own business some day. Come out and join us.”

“Munch Thyme creates meals in our commercial kitchen and they are the only farm-to-table prepared food provider that has an adjoining farm,” Mills explained.

A commercial kitchen is a major cost many micro and small

businesses cannot afford. Giving them access to such a facility is an important part of either incubation of a business or culinary training for potential employment.

Fresh and organic ingredients will also be featured by Counter Culture, a vendor specializing in Kombucha, a probiotic drink. “Our mission statement of, ‘Where Hope Is Grown From The Ground Up’, is what it’s all about,” Market Coordinator Tyra Hearns said.

The airy market building has colorful picnic tables and will be open Tues-Sun 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The next big event, planned to be almost as festive as the ribbon cutting, will be Friday, Feb 16, 2018, 5:00-9:00 p.m. Artists and artisans are welcome to be vendors and anyone interested should

contact; (786) 863-3647.

Redland Community Farm and Market, where the event will be, is at 12690 SW 280th St Homestead. Redland Country Market, open on Saturdays, is located at 16155 SW 248 Street, Homestead.

“Our farm is organic which means no pesticides and a lot of weeding and other tasks,” Mills said when asked about volunteer opportunities. “We have students and some older people who are interested in learning about organic farming techniques. It’s education-based as well as production. We can also use volunteers in the markets.”

To learn more about Redland Ahead, go to

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