Indian River County ‘locavores’ unite to promote local farming

Indian River County ‘locavores’ unite to promote local farming

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Kelly Jackson Nosler, a fourth generation Indian River County resident, hopes to bring together like-minded individuals, organizations and nonprofits to advocate for better food choices for local residents.

“We live in a farming community, known for its citrus. I don’t understand why we can’t produce clean, healthy foods right here in Indian River County to help feed the people who live here,” said Nosler.

So popular is the healthy food movement, a new word has made its way into the dictionary. A “Locavore” is one who eats foods harvested within a 100-mile radius of their home. 

Nosler notes we should all be stakeholders in personal health and that of future generations. With childhood diabetes on the rise (cases have more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents during the past 30 years) and other food related diseases, parents are finally beginning to realize that something has to be done on a local if not national level.

The attendees at the Indian River County Stakeholders meeting held at LOV Juice on August 15 came from all walks of life. Vegans, organic growers, herbalists, nurses and community activists rounded out the group of more than 20 people.

Nancy Heinrich, founder of Growing Healthy Kids, works with childhood obesity. 

“I see the lack of access to what we need the most, fresh fruits and veggies. I’m concerned about what the kids eat in school, all the processed foods. I’m concerned about the health of the children and what diseases they are going to be growing up with because of poor food choices or the lack of availability of good food choices,” she said.

Some of the food related areas Nosler hopes to explore with the stakeholders group are local conservation and preservation efforts, revivication (identification of under-utilized assets in the community), local food opportunities through farming, co-ops, and food assistance, education of the community regarding health statistics and it’s correlation to food, integrative health and wellness.

“This is really an open forum for people who are concerned about the food they eat and how it affects their health,” said Nosler. 

After initial introductions were made, the ideas began to fly. Among the ideas floated were turning the old diesel plant into a farming co-op and more community gardens. Some also voiced frustration with current city and county restrictions.

As the group of eclectic community members shared their reasons for attending the meeting (agricultural, health and wellness, environmental, financial) it became apparent that many of the issues were inter-connected.

Nosler believes that Indian River County can return to its previous place as a farming community benefiting its citizens both financially and in the area of health and nutrition.

Co-ops and locally grown, organic foods aren’t a new concept. Indian River County is just a little late getting to the table, which is ironic given the amount of green space and the county’s farming history.

The stakeholders group took their first field trip recently to an aeroponic farm located in Indiantown. Airgrown Systems uses vertical aeroponic plant growing techniques to grow plant root systems in the air as opposed to the traditional in-soil method.

This technique maximizes food production by allowing up to 60 plant sites within a 2’x3’ area.

The next Community Stakeholders meeting is scheduled for Sept. 19 at LOV Juice, 801 20th Place, Vero Beach, Florida 32960. 

“All are welcome,” said Nosler. “We need information from as many people in the community as we can possibly get. People Power.” 

By Stephanie LaBaff – Wednesday, August 28, 2013