Strawberry season in Florida~ A Foodbuzz 24×24 event
This month, I was graciously chosen by the editors at Foodbuzz to participate in a 24 event; which means different people from around the world are all creating a memorable meal on a particular day. For my event, I chose Strawberry season in Florida, with a visit to a local “u-pick” farm and some dishes I created with the days’ harvest.
But, first… I’m sure you want to hear about the adventure…
First of all, I had hopes to meet some friends there… but a virus got in the way and I ended up going on a mommy- daughter trip. Which ended up pretty awesome nonetheless. We got there early, before the crowds and the heat of the midday sun could interfere with our mission.
We went to Bedners, a family owned farmstead in Boynton Beach. I was able to do an email interview with Marie Bedner, who graciously answered some looming questions lurking about in my head:
Can you tell me the history behind Bedner’s farm market?
Maria: Arthur Bedner, a 3rd generation farmer, moved from PA to South Florida after he married Henrietta in 1950. He felt there were better farming opportunities due to the weather so he started farming in Fort Lauderdale. As development increased he kept getting pushed to the North & finally purchased our home farm on Atlantic Avenue & turnpike in Delray in the 1960. During this time his three sons, Charlie, Bruce & Steve were born & worked on the farm. The farm where the market is located was purchased in 1980 & is 80 acres. The Bedner’s primarily grow bell peppers & cucumbers that are shipped up the East Coast. In 2005 we had a idea to open a retail market & U-Pick & began the planning of it. Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market officially opened in March 2011.
What additional crops were grown on the premises?
Maria: We currently have a strawberry, tomato, pepper & sunflower U-Pick. We also grow on that farm red & green leaf lettuce, romaine, spinach, collards, cucumbers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, cabbage, eggplants, squash, green beans, a variety of peppers, cantaloupes & watermelons.
Which family members are actively involved in the business?
Maria: Charlie his wife Suzanne daughter Jennifer & son Jesse. Bruce his wife Denise & daughter Megan (their other daughter Liz is a RN). Steve & his wife Marie all currently work in the business.
What type(s) of pest control are used at the you pick portions?
Maria: We practice sustainable farming (attached info). The farm where the market is located borders the Arthur Marshall Wildlife Refuge & is a beautiful piece of property.
What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is a way of producing food that’s healthy to eat, doesn’t harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances local community. There is no “sustainable” label, so eating sustainably means understanding the issues, getting involved with your food, and knowing the people who grow and sell it.
Key Elements of Sustainable Farming
Minimizing use of toxins – Sustainable farmers work with the environment, using natural, non-polluting methods to control pests and weeds whenever possible. This means pesticides, herbicides or fungicides are used minimally and only when necessary, rather than routinely. Where possible, sustainable farms rely on crop diversity, beneficial insects and pest resistant plants to control destructive insects and other pests, minimizing use of pesticides and choosing those that are used carefully to minimize negative effects on crops and the environment.
Soil conservation and environmental stewardship – On a sustainable farm, what is taken out of the soil is replenished, so that land remains healthy and fertile generation after generation. Sustainable farms conserve soil through erosion-prevention methods such as windbreaks, cover crops, and low-impact tillage methods. Minimal use of chemical pesticides and elimination of excess fertilizer minimizes soil contamination.
Biodiversity – Sustainable farms raise different types of plants and animals, which are rotated around the fields to enrich the soil and help prevent disease and pest outbreaks. When farms are diversified, they are also better protected against natural disasters, because if one crop is damaged another may survive to help make up lost income.
Economically viable and socially just – Sustainable farms must also be economically sustainable for farmers who own them. They must be able to earn a fair price for their products and, in turn able to pay their workers a fair wage. Additionally, sustainable farms ensure a safe working environment and, where workers board on a farm, decent living conditions and food. When a farm business is financially sustainable, local businesses and the community as a whole also benefit.
Benefits of sustainable food
The concept of sustainability also involves eating locally raised food, where possible, which decreases the time it sits around before reaching your plate, thereby increasing its nutrient value, since most foods begin losing nutrients as soon as they are harvested. Recently picked produce also retains more of its flavor, and eating food that is raised close to home may lower your carbon footprint, depending how far it is transported before reaching you.
Purchasing sustainable food can also help save independent family farms. This not only supports communities, but helps protect all of us from having our food supply controlled by just a few companies. Small farms also help ensure that our food choices remains diverse and protects us all from monopolization of our food supply.
By eating sustainably, you are also supporting a true American tradition that’s part of our cultural heritage – the small, independent family farmer.
I love supporting local farmers, so I was thrilled when I read the details of Bedners.
The strawberries were put to use in a feast proceeding the picking event, which included:
A fresh spinach salad with goat cheese, strawberries, macadamia nuts and a balsamic dressing.
Homemade cocoa graham crackers with marshmallows and fresh strawberries….
Homemade shortcakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream…
There was a savory portion as well, because my handsome man & his friends came home with this:
In case you don’t have a handy fish identifier near you; that happens to be a Mahi-Mahi, also known as Dorado and known around here as Dolphin. I’m not sure why they call it Dolphin… because it has no similarities to the Porpoise fish.
We feasted on fish tacos, spinach salads and a choice of strawberry desserts. Of course I’ll be sharing the recipes with you, starting today with the homemade shortcake ~ Enjoy!
- 2 cups cake flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 stick butter softened
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup half and half
- Preheat oven to 350
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper
- In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and cream of tartar.
- In another bowl, combine the butter, egg, vanilla and half and half.
- Gently combine the two mixtures, until a sticky dough is formed. (You may need to adjust flour)
- Place on a heavily floured surface and roll out to 1/2" thick.
- Cut with a 2" cutter, and place on a baking sheet; touching.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or, until golden
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