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Food Trend: What's behind Miami's Farm-to-Table Craze?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page.

Miami's burgeoning urban farming scene turns forsaken land into farm-to-table excellence, and offers both growers and diners more than just an exquisite meal.  

The barley salad at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, with frisée, arugula, apples, and pomegranate seeds, uses greens straight from the onsite garden.

Just west of Miami International Airport, planes roar overhead while cars and trucks rumble by on a nearby overpass. But wedged between two shipping warehouses is row after resplendent row of potted plants, 50 kinds in all-Thai basil, Salanova lettuce, pungent Mexican hoja santa, and the new hybrid BrusselKale. Walk 10 yards and you pass through layers of aromas from winter tarragon to mint and lavender.

At any one time, there are between 20,000 and 50,000 plants growing in this vacant, one-acre industrial strip that, until six years ago, was an abandoned railroad track. Now it's part of an organic farming operation run by Rock Garden, a produce shipping company. The plot also doubles as an educational landscape for the nonprofit Miami GROW Project (short for Green Railroad Organic Workshop) run by Thi Squire. "GROW is about turning a situation where you would never think you could grow an edible, and making it work," says Squire.

"Making it work" is the essence of urban farming, which is currently popping up throughout Miami's burgeoning food scene. In South Florida, GROW and a handful of other small plots that make up Miami's urban farm movement are producing leafy greens that will end up on plates at forward-leaning restaurants such as Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, The Dutch, Tongue & Cheek, BLT Steak, and any of the Pubbelly spots, as well as in markets like Milam's in Coconut Grove, the Upper East Side Farmers Market, and a growing group of CSAs (community supported agriculture), which dole out regular deliveries of fresh produce to members.     


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