Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An Urban Garden Brings Green to Little Haiti

Today we are meeting my friends Gary and Tamara who are working together to build a community garden in the Little Haiti neighborhood in Miami. Anyone who wants to get involved is welcome. In March or April there will be a fundraiser lunch in the garden with local chefs helping. I will blog again about this when we know the exact date, but keep it on your radar...

 Pictured above are Gary and Tamara flanking  Prevner and his son Bilex

The construction on North East Second has finally ended on the stretch by the Little Haiti Community Garden at the Northwest corner of 58th Street making it easier to reach. A third of an acre enclosed by fencing is planted with produce to support the local food network and to encourage healthy eating in the neighborhood. Longtime friends Gary Feinberg and Tamara Hendershot bought the vacant lot seven years ago as an investment. He owns Brownes & Co Apothecary and she runs Magic City Farm, an urban oasis with cottages for photo shoots. When the real estate market crashed they decided to turn the land into a garden. Last fall over 200 volunteers helped clear 20 years worth of dumped garbage. The soil was toxic so beds of mulch were built up where the produce is grown. They got a mixture of compost, manure and mulch from central Florida and planted coconut, mango, and longan trees (the soil has been retested and is now safe). 
Pictured about are green papayas (in India the hard flesh is grated and cooked with spices to make a warm salad), Malabar spinach with red stems that is native to the Malabar coast of India and often cooked with coconut milk plus okra, hot peppers and flowers. The second picture is of the yellow eggplants like little yellow submarines.

Prevner Julien, a farmer from Haiti came to South Florida two years ago when his young son Bilex suffered a serious head trauma in an accident and was airlifted to Jackson Memorial. Tamara met Prevner through a Project Medishare fundraiser and he was hired in August as the master gardener with his salary paid by the Miami Dolphins Foundation for now. He planted organic companion plots pairing corn with cabbage, basil with tomatoes, and okra with peppers. There are also yam and cassava beds, red-stemmed Malabar spinach entwining a Florida pine and cucumbers, squash, yellow eggplant, green beans, pigeon peas, pumpkins and watermelon all mixed up with bananas, hibiscus, nasturtium and sunflowers. By planting selected varieties together the plants produce a higher yield with fewer diseases. Bilex who has healed completely helps after school and on the weekend along with Rev. Geffrand Frederick who lives across the street. The garden is dedicated to the community where volunteers can meet, talk, and grow fruits and vegetables in a model of urban renewal.

The Little Haiti Community Garden is located at 5804 NE 2nd Avenue. The produce is sold at the Liberty City Farmers market, 6161 NW 9thAvenue Thursdays from noon until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more info call Tamara at 305-757-7711

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