Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall Into Fun With Us!

Hello Simple Livers!

Our Jack Johnson themed benefit was a huge success! Thanks to all who attended and a BIG thank you to all who donated their time and efforts. You know who you are. Individual acknowledgements are on the way! Check out the gallery link on the Simple Living institute website. 39 great pictures taken at the benefit by Raymond Silvasy! Thanks! That is Commissioner Sheehan being honored by our president Tia, for her contribution to our community gardens project in Festival Park.

The money we made at the benefit will, of course, go towards keeping our Organic Grower's meetings and other workshops cheap or free to attend. The best part is that we can now move forward with our BIG project: The Central Florida Sustainable Food Project

Heading it up is new board member and our official "planner" Andrew Landis (see his bio, on the website). He calls it an exercise, a mapping exercise. This project is a 6 county, Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia, inventory of every farm, especially ones that sell to the public, community garden, farmer's market, CSA, U-pick operations, food producer and restaurant and business that sell or serve locally grown food, including meats and eggs. This will be published in print and online at titled The Local Food Resource Guide. The goal is to provide consumers with free information as to where to purchase locally produced food. We also would like to influence growers who currently sell shrubs and palm trees and the like, that are not edible and maybe non-native. By showing these growers where and how much, people are spending for products that are very high in demand, they could switch and grow more food!

Data from all of these counties has poured in and we are excited to think that we could be quite thorough even concerning far flung locations. There is more work to be done! Each entry will list location and hours of operation if applicable, their contact information, basic descriptions of products and their availability. A few interesting stories or antidotes about the farms or businesses will be included! Eventually, the website will be interactive. Local food producers will have a way to convey what is in season and available. We hope to print several thousand guides (maybe even 10,00) and distribute them for free to the public early in 2011. Consumers, that's you and me! can use this important information to decide what and where to buy the absolute freshest, highest quality food available.

The power of the plate is at work here. Anyone who eats potentially, could want this guide in their hands or in their favorites on the computer. This could be the reason we have attracted over 100 people to our meetings over these last few months. Specifically, faith based organizations, and people who are making a concerted effort to to eat more healthfully to combat sometimes life threatening medical conditions have been the most vociferous. Now that there is national attention on childhood obesity, schools and childcare facilities, and parenting groups will appreciate having this information close at hand.

Participate by attending our meetings and getting on one of 4 committees: the Data committee, the Print, the Web, and the Marketing committees all would welcome your ideas and energy! Follow and comment here and on our Facebook page and on our Community Forum

All of our meeting dates and locations are listed there. Join us! This is an exciting project!

Ah! Fall in Florida! There is nothing like it and it is coming soon! Would you like to get outside and meet the community with us? Simple Living Institute is supporting many interesting events this fall with our bannered information table! Here's the line up: Global Peace Film Festival in downtown Winter Park Sunday Sept 19th. The VegFest at Loch Haven Park Saturday Oct. 23rd. The Owl Festival in Apopka Saturday Nov. 9th, also at the Seminole County Master Gardener Expo that same day at Red Bug Lake Park. We'll tout our wonderful programs and our BIG project to an eager public who wants to learn more about us at Simple Living Institute.

There is one more! This year we are teaming up with the UCF Arboretum for our annual plant sale. Mark your calendars, Saturday and Sunday Oct. 16ht and 17th. Listings of plants available for sale will be available soon. If you've never been out to the Arboretum at UCF, those of us who have will tell you it is well worth the trip. We are promising you now NO PARKING HASSLES for our event! All directions will be included on an upcoming flyer.

Which event appeals to you? Come out and give us a 2 hour shift at our Simple living Institute table! I am coordinating our valued volunteers, so reach to me please. Once you commit, we'll let you know exactly what to do and what to say to people while at the table. These events are really fun!

Meanwhile, follow us and comment here on the blog, and on Facebook and on our Central Florida Sustainable Food Project community forum (click the above links)

See you soon!

Shayla Dougher, volunteer coordinator

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A day of Mycology

On July 31st the Simple Living Institute sent a part time intern, Bradford White, to a wonderful gathering of Mycologists and plant enthusiasts in outer-Gainesville for a day of Mushroom talk. The founder of Finca Mycol, Michael Stevens, as well as retired University of Florida Mycologist Dr. James Kimbrough, facilitated discussions of mushroom identification, usages, and journeys for the first part of the day. After a delicious lunch of local sand pears, watermelon, various mushroom teas, and homemade pesto, the group gathered for a mushroom walk on the various parts of the Finca. The day dimmed down with the sight of dark overhanging clouds, but the great discussions and fun still ensued until the evening. A big thanks to Michael Stevens and Dr. James Kimbrough for having the Simple Living Institute out at the Finca!