Thursday, June 24, 2010

Simple Living Institute on Front Porch Radio

Julie Norris from The Dandelion Communitea Cafe ( does a weekly show called Front Porch Radio on WPRK 91.5 FM every Wednesday at noon. She invited Simple Living Institute to be her guest on the show this week!

I jumped at this opportunity to crow about several EXCITING projects our dynamite nonprofit has in the works right now! And boy it was fun!

Of course Julie knows us so her questions pointed exactly to the information I wanted to share with her audience. I began with our Organic Grower's meetings. I bragged, "When we first started, we had only 10 or so people attending our meetings. But now it has grown to 60 or 70 people attending every month!" I went on to talk about how people are very happy to find help with building and maintaining a garden here in Central Florida, especially if they learned gardening somewhere else that does not share our climate and sandy soil, not to mention the fire ants! During the radio show, a call came in asking about...... you guessed it! WORMS. I was very happy, because people always ask about worms. Worm composting is gaining notoriety with no small thanks to our friends at Our Vital Earth ( I emphasized that not only does our Organic Grower's meeting always have a relevant speaker or a program, but that everyone who attends is a Florida gardener too. The tips and stories about gardening abound at our meetings!

Next I explained a bit about our Central Florida Sustainable Food Project. This is a regional inventory and mapping guide over 6 Central Florida counties encompassing all the community gardens, farms that sell to the public, farmer's markets and businesses that deal in LOCAL food. Once completed it will be up on our website and out in print, free to the public. We intend for it to be interactive, growing and expanding just like the industries it will support! This Local Food project energizes our efforts to strengthen the connections between local food producers and purchasers!

Jack Johnson is coming to town!! His nonprofit, All At Once ( has agreed to match the donations we, Simple Living Institute can collect between now and when his World Tour stops here at the Amway Arena Aug. 24th! Our BIG fund raiser will be held Thursday night Aug. 12th at the Cameo on Colonial Drive featuring a video contest, song contest, silent auction and raffle!
This sensational video contest will reward the winner with 2 tickets to the Jack Johnson concert! Contestants are to submit a 3 minute video that shares your vision of sustainability while highlighting the work we do at Simple living institute. Submission deadline is August 1st. We'll have an open mike style Jack Johnson cover song contest, with that winner also receiving 2 Jack Johnson concert tickets! The silent auction and raffle will make sure there is something for everybody. We are expecting 300 people! Every Simple Living Institute event is kid friendly. This fund raiser will serve as a membership drive as well.

Do you know of a business who'd like to donate something to our silent auction or raffle? Please ask! Have a videographer in the family? Bring us that video! Love Jack Johnson? Come over and strum and sing for us! That's Thursday night August 12th at the Cameo!

I am very grateful for this time to sing out (I didn't really sing!) about all of the impressive events and activities we are involved with at Simple Living Institute. Thank you Julie and Jeremy at Front Porch Radio! A podcast of this broadcast will be available soon on the Dandelion Commuinitea Cafe's website.

Everything we do is done by VOLUNTEERS! We have many opportunities for you to help us in very useful ways. Reach to us to find out how you can enrich your life by participating with us.

Shayla Dougher, Volunteer Coordinator, Simple living Institute

Friday, June 18, 2010

Organic Grower's Meeting: Organic Pest Control

This past June 16th the Simple Living Institute hosted their monthly Organic Grower's Meeting (free) at the beautiful Leu Gardens on North Forest Avenue. Included in the presentation were enjoyable anecdotes and helpful advice from the owners of the Fruit Dog Foods Farm, Larry & Beverly Bailey. Also a presentation on identifying the "good" and "bad" bugs of your garden, and the natural and/or organic solutions that one can utilize to maintain a thriving ecosystem.

Our raffle table yielded many prizes, including worm compost, various herb and vegetable plants, homemade balms from Gray's Garden, and more. Around the room were Our Vital Earth and Nature's Solutions, along with a plant and fruit-jam sale. The tasting table provided delicious morsels including an array of Etho's Vegan Kitchen pizzas, fresh peaches, and warm zucchini-nut bread.

All in all a very fun and informative night! If you have not yet been we encourage you to join us next month; the schedule announcements can be found here:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Local Food Sustainability Planning Meeting

Hello All, last night at the Virgin Olive Market in downtown Orlando we hosted a planning meeting for our "local food resource guide." The turnout was fantastic, so much in fact that there were a few participants leaning in to listen and contribute from the hallway.

The meeting lasted approximately one hour and following is a summary of what was discussed. If interested in the full meeting notes, do not hesitate to contact me.

The project has begun with website design and development, and is working on developing a system which will allow open access to all contributing partners. Currently, representatives at the Planing Council are collecting regional data from the six counties of Central Florida, and a comprehensive (yet unfinalized) listing can be obtained from Slow Foods. The list specifications include those farms supplying to the community and restaurants that utilize local food.

The guide, which will be online and available for print, will include a map with address and basic information pertaining to the location listed. Ideas are being accepted as to what else can be included, one example being articles highlighting relevant events and projects within our local area.

As of now, design is based around ease of access both to information and the addition of information to the system by users. As a vision of the completed product, individuals will be able to search using their zip-code and receive information on accessible food, markets, farms, restaurants that serve these foods, and companies that will assist in building your own garden. Basically, a vibrant local food economy.

A proposal was passed around and the group targeted an answer to stand as the goal and mission of the project. Such were promoting consumption of local food (without seeming weird), increasing demand and therefore supply, encouraging farmers in our region to diversify their crops and therefore break away from subsidies, transparency of the food process (growing, harvesting, transport and finally appearing on a shelf), and education of consumers.

Coming from such brainstorming was born an idea in which micro-supply can be viable by supplying personal crops to a licensed produce peddler for selling. If this is of interest to you, please contact

With a central food resource, interest and support can be generated for the project and the door can be opened to the public, garnering legislative support and renegotiation of current food legislation.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Colonialtown Community Garden Dedication Ceremony

On Tuesday, May 25th, elected officials gathered with residents of Orlando's Colonialtown neighborhood for the grand opening of their new community garden. Trina Hofreiter, garden organizer, introduced members of the garden and officials in attendance. State Representative Scott Randolph, Mayor Buddy Dyer, County Commissioner Bill Segal, and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan all spoke briefly of their support for community gardens in urban areas. Commissioner Sheehan was particularly enthusiastic, and encouraged other neighborhoods to follow Colonialtown's example. She presented gardeners with a gnome statuette as a gesture of her appreciation. Mayor Dyer was given a large basket of recently harvested produce from the garden as thanks for the Mayor's Matching Grant that helped to fund the project. Fresh watermelon was shared by all, and a local band performed while garden members showed off their plots. If you get a chance, stop by and check out the well-designed space located at the corner of Spokane Ave. and Lake Highland St.