Knowledge is Power!
There is going to be a fair in Tampa off of Highway 301 next week. The Rare Fruit Council is going to have a booth there. From the advertisements on TV lately it seems that the fair has gone more towards entertainment and away from agriculture. There are photos of Vegas-style casino gambling and dancing girls as well as the footage of roller coasters and ferris wheels. I might visit the fair to see if the advertisements are accurate or if there is still a focus on agriculture at the fair.
When I was growing up in North Carolina, the fair had rides and sometimes the circus was there, but a lot of the emphasis was on agriculture. There was a sugar-making display where you could buy a piece of sugarcane, and animals were present because they were being judged, each in their category. I remember cattle, pigs, rabbits, goats, sheep, and even a wildlife exhibit focusing on reptiles intended to educate the public about local species of snakes. There were also the prizes for best cakes, with local restaurants often paying for the rights to cook and serve award-winning cake recipes. We went on a paddle boat ride and sifted dirt trying to find gemstones. I found a piece of amythest in my box of dirt. There were also exhibits featuring produce that farmers grew.
I was used to having access to fresh produce at farmers markets wherever I lived in North Carolina, and I have had more trouble finding fresh vegetables in Florida. True, the city has more than one farmers market. But I went to one, and the food was overipe and seem to be discarded produce from grocery stores. The other one had some local honey, but the only person selling vegetables got them off of the trucks at Plant City at the same time that they were being shipped to the grocery stores. He was not a farmer, and the food was not locally-grown. There was a fruit stand with fresh food nearby, but those folks retired and closed the stand, and they had gone out of town for four months of the year before that. It was frustrating to me that in a state that had so many months of sunshine that people grew little other than citrus.
The nearby organic food store had all of its produce shipped from California to Florida, causing problems with prices and freshness. So I got involved with the Rare Fruit Council after seeing an ad in the paper for persimmons. The people who grew the persimmons that we bought were members of the council. Meeting them and getting involved in the Rare Fruit Council has been a godsend, giving me access to fresh fruit, and new adventures in learning about fruit and eating new varieties of fruit, even if I still have to buy some vegetables that I don't have space grow at the grocery store.
Living in a condo can be frustrating for those of us who like to garden, so that is why I am interested in community gardens and I volunteer at the botanical garden. Even if I don't have space for a plant such as a tree, I will often save seeds or cuttings and propogate the plant to give away to someone who has space for it or to give to a fundraiser. I have planted something almost everywhere I have lived, even if it was nothing more than some bulbs that were sent to me as a flowering gift or a couple of chrysanthemums near some steps leading to a door. I usually lived in places that were not owned by a management company but by individuals, so I often had the right to plant ornamental plants in the ground around the building. I also helped out with gardening at the homes of people who practiced permaculture, and learned a lot that way.