A Visit to the Gateway Organic Farm

19 Jun

On Monday, we started our very first Swanky Swine Summer School (we admit, the alliteration is getting a bit out of control).  Our goal for this program is to offer our young adults the opportunity to learn and practice valuable life and vocational skills.  Every day we will spend some time in the classroom but a good portion of our time will include hands on activities.  There will be an ongoing emphasis on character development, healthy living and money management.  We also plan to grocery shop and cook a lot!


Today, we took our first field trip to the Gateway Organic Farm in Clearwater.   There are so many important lessons to be learned in a garden.   Not only did visiting the farm teach our kids about nutrition and agriculture but it also exposed them to a possible vocation. The Gateway farm is the only organic farm in the county and it is quite impressive.  This past year, they won the Florida Innovative Farmer Award, which is impressive since they were competing with much larger farms all over the state.  While the farm itself is only about 3 acres, it was amazing how much they were doing on the land.   We took tons of pictures!


When we first arrived, Pamela (the farmer’s wife) and her family met us at the Gate and immediately engaged the students.  We toured their children’s garden  that was filled with vegetable and herb plants in plastic buckets that had been planted by children at the local elementary school.


Hank (the farmer) showed all of the children an empty bee hive and explained how they harvest honey.  The entire fence was lined with large pots overflowing with fresh herbs including Rosemary, Thyme, Cuban Oregano, Mint and Basil.  The students loved smelling everything. The basil reminded everyone of pizza and someone said the sage “smelled like Thanksgiving.”


We picked kale and Pamela taught us the importance of rotating crops.   However, everyone’s favorite part seemed to be the chickens.  We even left the farm with fresh eggs that we can cook together tomorrow!


It was such a great day!  We look forward to visiting the farm again in the fall when there are more vegetables to see. We also plan to volunteer on a planting or weeding day. Many of the students expressed an interest in farming. We even talked to Pamela about joining the farm’s CSA so that we can have fresh, local, organic produce to cook with throughout the year.  If you’re from the area and haven’t heard of the Gateway Farm I encourage you to check them out (www.gatewayorganicfarm.com).  The family is wonderful and they are doing great work!


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