Rabbit Run Farm (RRF) is in North Fort Myers just off of the Palm Beach Blvd. exit of I-75.
This is primarily a commercial venture, but more on that later. Chef Kristina (Chef Kristina) was gracious enough to set up a private tour for me with the owner, Denise. Denise was at one time in finance, but decided about 5 years ago to go into farming. With no experience in this area she put all of this together. Through UF/IFAS extension courses (UF/IFAS Extension), advice from other growers, experimentation and blood, sweat and tears, RRF came to be. I love her philosophy. She prides herself on providing the freshest, highest quality, locally grown product. This is very much in the spirit of Alice Waters (Alice Waters). Her restaurant, Chez Panisse (Chez Panisse) was based on this concept over 40 years ago and is consistently rated one of the world's top 50 restaurants.
Denise should get an additional marketing boost from being featured in a cookbook coming out this fall by 2013 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist (James Beard Foundation). Chef Brandon McGlamery. Chef McGlamery has two restaurants in Orlando, Luma (Luma on Park) and Prato (Prato). Chefs McGlamery and Kristina in addition to Denise will all be very active participants of Lee County Restaurant Week (Fort Myers Restaurant Week 2013)
Hydroponics (Hydroponics) are used at RRF. In a nutshell, here is how it works. Well water (which contains more plant nutrients) and nutrient solution tailored to the particular plant trickle through the black tubing in the picture and are dispersed through the growing medium by the black collar wrapped around the support beam.
You can modify the growing medium according to the water needs of the plant. The growing medium above contains about a 50/50 mix of perlite (Perlite), the white material you see in the planter, and coco peat (Coco Peat), which is a leftover material after processing coconut husks. Coco peat loves to retain water, so by adding perlite you are increasing the surface area (How Perlite Works) of the mixture and increasing drainage. This is good for a plant such as a green bean (Haricot Vert) that does not need that much water.
On the other hand, a plant like a tomato that loves water would have a growing medium of almost 100% coco peat where not much drainage would be occurring.
O.K., enough of the gardening lessons.The working property at present is 2 acres, and I would guess in the summer months only half of it is really used.
In the areas that are being used magic happens.
and patty pan squash (Patty Pan Squash) were presently growing.
Those squash blossoms sure look good!
RRF has things you will never find at almost any produce vendor.
Dragon's Tongue variegated (Variegated) green beans
purple eyed peas
and kaleidoscope beans, named as such because each pod of beans comes out looking different.
I could go on and on and on but what was really unique were the herbs and edible flowers that were grown to be used as garnishes by chefs.
Red heart sorrel
RRF is also open to the public, but on a very limited basis.
In the very near future, they plan on holding a weekly market in Naples, FL at The Good Life (The Good Life). You can contact them for more information.
I have been to her Saturday market twice now, and it's wonderful. Squash, passion fruit, garlic chives, zucchini, cucumbers, okra, dried legumes,
yard long beans
carrots and haricot verts.
They also sell organic eggs that a neighbor provides from his own chickens that does this as a side line. You will not find eggs that look and taste like this in most places.
Good things come from this place. I have heard that at some point there will be an expansion of this operation doubling it's present growing area. It cannot happen fast enough.
Rabbit Run Farm
5150 Neal Rd.
Fort Myers, FL 33905