Pine Island Botanicals (PIB) is a farm on Pine Island, FL. They grow many things using Hydroponics and more traditional methods. They also raise poultry. The owners, Michael and Christina, are interesting. One of them was in the fashion industry for many years, finally working at the clothier Chico's which is what brought him to the area. Christina had a degree in mathematics and a graduate degree in computers before deciding to switch gears and go into farming.
The property has been farmed for 15 years, initially starting off with 1.5 acres and expanding to it's present size of 4 acres. From a tour of the property it very well might as well be a Garden of Eden.
The Subtropical Climate in Florida allows for the growing of many exotic fruits and vegetables exemplary of what Pine Island Botanicals has to offer. The owner has culled his agricultural skills from his experiences living in the Caribbean, Indonesia and Turkey and it shows.
and Kaffir limes.
There were also Saba Bananas on the property, which grow 30 feet tall,
"false horseradish" or Moringa native to the foothills of Northwestern India ,
and Florida Prince peach trees, modified to bear fruit in a climate such as Florida's.
Through his travels learning different farming methods, the owner is very proud that his farm is virtually pesticide-free. He uses almost exclusively biological agents for pest control. These include Bacteria and insects such as Ladybugs.
This is largely under the purview of one of the owners known by the moniker, The Sprout Queen.
For sprouting, seeds are soaked in water until they germinate,
then kept moist and allowed to sprout until they become of an edible size.
They sell seeds to sprout as well as kits for the home "sprouter".
They also sell quite a bit of the finished product. Wheatgrass,
and Onion Sprouts
are among the many things that are grown to be packaged and sold.
The chickens raised here are Paragons of Sustainability as they eat most of the farm's unsalable product due to spoilage. In addition they produce really good eggs.
What is really impressive about PIB are it's hydroponics. The system in use here is brilliant in it's simplicity and cost efficiency.
Plastic piping is joined together in a closed system filled with nutrient solution, holes drilled at regular intervals on top of the pipes and the plants grown in small baskets inserted into the holes.
Almost anything can be grown in this, including herbs and strawberries. Even though these strawberries were immature, they were delicious!
This system can be easily scaled up for large production.
With some plants, the root system can be too large impeding the flow of nutrients down the pipe.
In situations like these, the system can be modified and plants grown in large plastic buckets.
One of the owners told me he gets these gratis from a company that makes pool-treatment chemicals, did not want to recycle the buckets and was trying to find someone who would take them off their hands. Love it!
The owners are big proponents of some of their product being used as Nutraceuticals. This will have to be left to another discussion as this topic is beyond the scope of Southwest Florida Forks.
For those interested, they sell at a number of Farmer's Markets and from the source by appointment.
PIB is an engaging place. Their "nuts and bolts" are very interesting, and their product is beyond excellent. I am grateful to the owners for spending so much time with me that day on one of their few days off.
After a rather lengthy tour, my tour companion and I were ready to sample some of the local food.
Another fun and informative day out, and another post on Forks.
Pine Island Botanicals
12571 Aubrey Lane
Bokellia, FL 33922