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A trip to the farm can be as fun as Disney

Rows of seedlings safely covered with plastic mulch, Worden Farm 2014
Rows of seedlings safely covered with plastic mulch, Worden Farm 2014
Photo by: Jennifer Markell

For organic gardeners, a trip to the farm can be as fun as Disney is to a 5-year-old. With bouncy hayride tours and edible samples straight from the sandy earth, seed planting secrets and playing in the dirt, gardeners will leave happy and full of knowledge, off to grow their own organics. Along with tips and tools, these conscious growers left with armloads of fresh delights and smiles as wide as the Peace River.

Located in southwest Florida, Worden Farm is a certified organic family farm run by Chris and Eva Worden. Fortunately for visitors, Worden hosts a fun day for gardeners and food conscious individuals alike. On a Saturday morning in March, the farm was selling vegetables harvested the evening before, at morning markets around the area; one in St.Petersburg, one in Sarasota. Pulling up to the farm, you would not have known hundreds of crates of fresh organic vegetables were packed and hauled away to market just that morning; the place was neat, tidy and quiet.

Tours begin with a tractor drawn hay ride around the 85 acres. On this day, Vanessa, our guide, explained the Worden Farm history, current crop harvesting, struggles and successes alike, experienced over the years. Stopping for fresh bite-sized tomatoes and radishes, tour goers ages 8-80, asked questions about pests, compost, cover crops and micro environments. An hour later, when the tour ended, most people stayed for the 3 hour organic gardening class.

The class was facilitated by Christine Abbey of Sprawling Oaks Dairy Goat Farm. Christine, a former Worden volunteer, is a local, experienced organic farmer and herbalists. She currently runs a small goat farm in Arcadia, producing creamy cheeses and mouthwatering fudge, sure to please any palate.

Discussing everything from planning the location of a garden, important record keeping ideas, irrigation options and organic pest control methods, gardeners learned they are not alone when challenged with the time consuming tasks any garden can bring.

Participants left feeling good, knowing, their gardens are playing a crucial role in our planet’s sustainability. Our earth could benefit from more conscious growers who maintain strong organic micro-ecosystems in their own edible gardens. Worden Farm has implemented many admirable practices and should be commended for opening their doors and teaching like minded people, organic ways to grow healthy food.