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Showing posts from 2014

"How 'bout them apples?"

What does Apple, Inc, the multinational corporation that designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics have in common with north Florida local food efforts like Red Hills Online Market, the Frenchtown Heritage Market, and iGrow Whatever You Like?
This past weekend (still traveling), my wife and I passed by this Apple store in South Beach, Miami. There was a line of people outside waiting to get in for the opportunity to shop. Wow. Picture op! I thought.

But why is Man in Overalls, a food garden entrepreneur and community food system developer interested in a tech store?  Because Apple, Inc. and local food efforts are largely pursuing the same business model: direct marketing, also called "direct-to-consumer" sales.

Let's take a look:

Red Hills Online Market (a project of the Red Hills Small Farms Alliance) is an online farmers' market where local farmers can post their products for sale and local customers can purchase directly from the farmers. RHO simply takes …

Giving Thanks for Innovation in the Food Movement

Happy Thanksgiving.

I am grateful.  Not only have I had a chance to travel the US the pasted six months -- not to mention I will be traveling internationally with Mary Elizabeth come January-- I've been wildly lucky to spend the last two weeks in Tallahassee.  I had a chance to visit family, share meals, and catch up.  There was also time to check in with loads of good folks doing great work around good food. I wish I could tell you all the stories.

But, I tell you what: instead of my stories, go collect your own at Leon County's Food Summit January 24th. All our key food stakeholders/players will be there, and we need all our area's peoples and networks present because the conversation and the survey they collect is going to help set regional food strategy. Be there.


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One of the highlights of my time in Tallahassee was the Tallahassee Food Network (TFN) board retreat. We reflected at length on our four year history as a "regional coalition of the global movement tha…

Hello from Out West & Remember New Leaf's Farm Tour Oct 25th & 26th

Greetings from Tucson, AZ. Yesterday, Mary Elizabeth and I visited the Mercado San Agustin.

There was a farmers market that was woven into the mosaic of a larger market: shops, a bakery, a rent-by-the-hour commercial kitchen for food-based businesses, a communal square, a bar, and a backyard-gardeners consignment table ran by the food bank, which is actually the umbrella organization for the farmers' market itself. (Check out what Tucson Community Food Bank is doing to grow the food movement!) The market was linked to downtown by a newly developed streetcar! So cool! It reminds me of the vision for the Frenchtown Heritage Market being developed in Tallahassee.

Mary Elizabeth and I are here for a few days visiting family before we head down to Mexico. After 10 days visiting my host family (with whom I lived for two months in 2007) in Nogales, Sonora, we'll head east on Interstate 10. We'll be back in north Florida the better part of November for a stop over before our next…

Local Gardening Store [Gramling's] is a Treasure: Letter to the Editor

Tallahassee Democrat
Sunday, June 15th 2014
Dear Editor,
I’ve been growing food since I was 8, when I became known as “that boy with the garden.” These days, folks know me as the “Man in Overalls.”
Though I like watching things grow, gardening for me has always been about more than aesthetics. It’s a survival skill-set against hunger and food insecurity, something — thank God — I have not truly needed.
Starting when I was a child, I began visiting Gramling’s on South Adams Street for seeds, starts, organic fertilizer and environmentally safe pest products. They learned my name and watched me grow up. These days, when I stop by, Wayne, their store manager, greets me, “Overalls!” and then says, “Dirty deeds done dirt cheap,” under his breath. Every time. It still makes me smile.
I write, generally, to encourage us to spend our dollars locally, to invest in Main Street, to reclaim our hometown gems, to support the businesses that know our names. Specifically, I propose that we honor Gram…

Tallahassee Food Network Delegation to Represent at Jefferson Awards in D.C.

Although my expenses as Volunteer of the Year are paid for by the Tallahassee Democrat as the local media sponsor of the Jefferson Awards, the expenses of my fellow delegation travelers are not covered. Travel, lodging, and Jefferson Awards registration expenses amount to just over $4500. Please consider a donation. Any and all financial assistance is appreciated. Please make checks payable and send donations to Tallahassee Food Network's 501c3 fiscal agent: Wiley Sunshine Foundation, memo "TFN Delegation" to 1920 Chowkeebin Nene/ Tallahassee, FL 32301.

"Nathan Ballentine to represent Tallahassee at the Jefferson Awards in Washington, D.C."
Reprinted from Tallahassee Democrat, 6/13/2014

Individual awards don't really suit Nathan Ballentine's personality.
He's a dedicated public servant, working tirelessly to create a culture of sustainability in Tallahassee, but he always insists he's just one part of an enthusiastic team. When he first heard he wa…

Growing Forward: Who to Call in Tallahassee

(Apologies in advance for the length of this note. It is a resource of who's who info in light of my departure, so save it for another day if you don't have a few moments right now).

Update: As of 2015, I've rooted in Jacksonville, FL where I am now growing and connecting with an awesome bunch of people and efforts related to good food. To stay up to date on my work and dreams, check me out on facebook, instagram or send me an email with subject line "Count Me In" to receive my "semi-monthly" updates which include a story and food gardening tip.

few years back, I drafted a dream for a Tallahassee Center for Urban Agriculture:

The Tallahassee Center for Urban Agriculture will serve as a hub of Tallahassee’s food movement, an incubator, a food “movement halfway house.” Akin to Milwaukee’s Growing Power, Birmingham’s Jones Valley Urban Farm, and Detroit area’s Growing Hope.  On a surface level, the Center will simply be a functioning urban farm: a farm in t…