Getting down and dirty in summer camp

It’s a few minutes before class will start and 6-year-old Elix Danahue, 10-year-old Elizabeth Lankist and 11-year-old Karis Williams are looking forward to the day’s lessons. The children are in a class being taught by Eden Santiago-Gomez. The three children are among a group of 21 in a Farm to Table Summer Youth Camp, offered by the University of Florida/Institute for Food and Agricultural … [Read more...]

Region has frigid wake-up call

The new year brought the first blast of winter to Pasco County, and to the Tampa Bay region. Freeze warnings and wind chill advisories rained down daily from the National Weather Service, as frigid air dipped into north and central Florida, and stayed for days. For the first time in decades, Tallahassee had measurable snowfall. Here in Tampa Bay, snow was a no-show, but temperatures … [Read more...]

4H Unidos Club aims to boost opportunities, bridge gaps

There’s a new 4H Unidos Club starting in Dade City that’s intended to reach into a community that traditionally hasn’t been part of such clubs. The club is specifically reaching out to Spanish-speaking youth and their parents, although it’s not an exclusive club. “It’s a totally inclusive club. Anybody can join. That’s kind of the nature of 4H and all Extension activities,” said Whitney C. … [Read more...]

Pasco Extension eyeing options for new home

Nobody disputes that Pasco County’s Extension Office is in serious need of an upgrade. But that’s where the consensus ends. Extension now operates out of space owned by the Pasco County Fair Association, under an annual $17,000 lease, which is currently on a month-to-month basis. But the office is too small and outdated to meet Extension’s needs. The county wants to improve conditions … [Read more...]

Sowing new seeds of inspiration

For gardeners who are looking for some new ideas, the Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden in Seffner provides inspiration — and information. The garden, at the Hillsborough County Extension office, gives growing enthusiasts a chance to see the variety of plants that will thrive in a Florida landscape. It also showcases the various ways plants will grow — in raised beds, on trellises, in … [Read more...]

Experts offer advice to entrepreneurs

A back-to-the-farm movement is spurring a new kind of small business entrepreneur. From small u-pick blueberry farms to backyard chicken roosts to garden vegetable patches, more and more people are finding their calling in the cottage food industry. They often set up shop in farmers’ markets, food truck rallies and local festivals. For many, it is a new direction in their … [Read more...]

Grilling up delicious and nutritious foods

When you think of summer fun and food, you usually think of cooking outside in the backyard, at a campground, or even the beach. As you know, in Florida, the weather doesn’t always cooperate, so grilling indoors is another good option. Indoor electric grills have been around for well over a decade. The first to emerge was the contact grill style, with heat being provided by a top and … [Read more...]

Heirloom seeds preserve heritage, save money

As the warm-season vegetable garden season draws to a close in Central Florida, there’s still much work to be done in preparation for the next planting season. This is a great time to collect heirloom seeds, which can save money and provide an easily renewable source of your favorite plant varieties. An heirloom variety is an older cultivar maintained in relatively isolated regions, even one’s … [Read more...]

Serving seasonal sweetness

This time of year is particularly good for fresh Florida strawberries. The sweet, red, and juicy heart-shaped little fruit is packed full of vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. Those who’ve attended the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City are likely aware of how delicious the berries taste in strawberry shortcake — served to festival-goers on sponge cake or a biscuit, … [Read more...]

Warm winter weather prompts blooming confusion

The peaches are in bloom, the aroma of flowers fills the air – spring has sprung. But, how can that be? It’s only January. The calendar says it’s winter, but our gardens are acting like it is spring. With temperatures 15 degrees to 20 degrees above average for this time of the year, it’s easy for plants, and for us, too, to be tricked by Mother Nature. It’s all due to this unusually … [Read more...]