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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Pesticide-Free Farmers in the Panhandle

Jul 02, 2013 05:49PM

Florida Summer evenings are abuzz with the symphonies of our winged, six-legged friends, but during the daytime, these guys have to eat just like us; they may even try to dine on the very same food supply as we do. Following the development of farming as an industry, farmers grabbed a chemical pesticide to protect their crops and get the job done. Today, farmers are providing for a more health-conscious shopper, and would prefer to chase off pests without introducing unnecessary toxins into our food supply. As a result lot of local farmers these days are turning to natural, organic pest control remedies.

Here in Northwest Florida, we are fortunate to have a wide range of local and regional farms producing summer goodies such as squash, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, peppers, blackberries, corn and more.

Of all the local, pesticide-free produce available to us, blueberries are a very popular crop for farmers and food enthusiasts alike.

Barry Rolins built up Sunny Slope Farms, in Walnut Hill, Florida, six years ago. This North Escambia County farm’s main crop is the blueberry, and he planted the first bushes four years ago. The family farm, run solely by the Rolins family, also produces blackberries. Rolins, along with his wife and daughters, do the majority of the picking, along with with the occasional volunteers (most of whom are friends of his daughters.)

On a recent farm visit, Rolins explained his pesticide-free practices, saying, “Thankfully, there have been no major pests or damage this season. If I need to spray a bush, I use organic pesticides, and it will be before the bush bears fruit on the branches.”

For a fun family outing this summer, check out a local pesticide-free farm.

Sam Williams is a frequent contributor to Ever’man Natural Foods Co-op, located at 315 W. Garden St., in Pensacola. Reach him at 850-438-0402 or Everman.org.

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