BY IRENE REVELAS
PHOTOS BY GARY BOGDON
Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida’s Farmers, Chefs and Artisans is an amazing new cookbook that fits right into the Edible Palm Beach mission of facilitating connections between local food producers and consumers.
Field to Feast takes us beyond Florida’s “fun in the sun” reputation as a travel and tourism hub, and into the fields and farms that make Florida the top agricultural state in the Southeast. Authors Pam Brandon, Katie Farmand and Heather McPherson took on the monumental task of travelling the peninsula to document Florida’s food stories, sample local food, capture beautiful images, and, of course, collect delicious recipes.
Armed with your copy of Field to Feast, you’ll be eager to embark on visits to the farms and restaurants featured, meet the farmers, artisans and chefs, sample their offerings, and try the recipes at home. Until then, EPB is thrilled to share a few of the great stories and recipes from Field to Feast in our inaugural issue.
The Field to Feast story is not complete without introducing the three women who lovingly made Florida’s local food story come to life in an accessible and artful cookbook. Pam Brandon is the managing editor of Edible Orlando magazine and a food columnist for OrlandoSentinel.com and the Palm Beach Post. She has written 11 cookbooks, including Delicious Disney Holidays and the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival cookbook. Pam grew up in West Virginia, where farm-to-table was a way of life. Her favorite taste of Florida is a tossup: spicy hot, boiled peanuts or wild-caught Gulf shrimp.
Katie Farmand claims the rare title of native Floridian. She was born and raised in the Sunshine State sipping Polar Cups and eating backyard tomatoes in February. Katie is the editor of Edible Orlando magazine and a freelance food writer, recipe developer and food stylist. Her recipes have been featured in the Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, and Tampa Tribune. Her blog, TheThinChef.com, is a collection of her original recipes and photography. This is her first cookbook.
Heather McPherson is the food editor and restaurant critic for the Orlando Sentinel and a past president of the Association of Food Journalists. She has written two cookbooks, including Barbeque! Great Ideas for Backyard Get-Togethers, and has edited four others, including The Florida Cookbook: A Lighter Look at Southern Cooking. Heather grew up in Indiana sneaking vine-ripe cherry tomatoes from her grandmother’s summer garden and helping her mother, sister, and cousins snap beans for family dinners. For her, no Florida meal is complete without local beef, sweet corn, fried okra, warm biscuits dripping with honey, and late-winter berries.
ROTH FARMS, BELLE GLADE
Sugar is the most economically valuable field crop in the Sunshine State, with Palm Beach County growing about 75 percent of Florida’s commercial sugar cane, according to University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Behind the big numbers are small farms that are members of Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, harvesting, transporting, and milling the sweet crop. “My dad was one of the founders of the sugar cane co-op,” says Rick Roth, a third-generation farmer.
Much has changed since his father started farming in Belle Glade in 1949. They planted sugar cane in the 1960s, but never stopped growing other crops, such as leafy vegetables, radishes, sweet corn, and beans. “Being diversified is an efficient way to farm with crop rotation,” Rick explains. “The rotation breaks the cycle of insects and diseases.”
While Roth Farms focuses on using its land as efficiently as possible, Rick says he also wants to raise awareness about the issues affecting farmers today, and offers tours of the farm to share best practices. “We’re on a mission to tell the world that with agriculture you can be part of the solution, or part of the problem,” he says. “We’re part of the solution.”
Belle Glade, FL
561.993.3037 | www.rothfarms.com
SWANK SPECIALTY PRODUCE, LOXAHATCHEE
Darren Swank hails from a Northeastern family of farmers and became fascinated with the idea of hydroponic farming at age 15 after a visit to The Land Pavilion at Disney’s Epcot. After moving to Florida in 1990 and seeing all the agriculture in Palm Beach County, he purchased 20 acres and launched Swank Specialty Produce in 2001, intrigued with the possibilities of large-scale hydroponics.
Now Darren, wife Jodi, and their three young children are part of the new generation of farmers with 200 varieties of hydroponic crops grown naturally year-round at Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee. Darren hand seeds once a week to produce a bounty of impeccable lettuces, radishes, eggplant, squash, zucchini, baby carrots, peas, kale, beans, heirloom tomatoes, basil, cilantro, dill, fennel, and watercress, as well as delicate edible flowers. Plants flourish both in shade houses and in full sun. Swank offers a CSA, and locavores can look for Jodi at the Palm Beach Green Market— if you want a recipe, just ask. Jodi has a remarkable repertoire
Swank Specialty Produce
14311 North Road
Loxahatchee, FL 33470
561.202.5648 | www.swankfarms.com