Foodsheds, growing zones, food security, schoolyard gardens, CSAs, community gardens, urban farming, edible landscapes, farmers’ markets, seed heritage, seed exchanges, seed banking, seed libraries, kitchen incubators, local artisan productions, organic farm-to table-partnering, satellite composting, culinary tourism, food cultures…
These are the dynamic components of our developing culinary movement. With a growing zone that permits year-round production and a host of energetic pioneers collaborating to create a secure and sustainable food region, we are poised to step onto the world stage as the next culinary hot spot. We have every ingredient for the winning economic recipe to attract the creative economy here to sample our delicious Florida’s Eden Regional Cuisine.
Think of the world’s leading culinary regions, places beloved for their food cultures—Napa Valley, Thailand, Mexico, Tuscany, New Orleans—each unique and rich with distinctive, sensual imagery. When we conjure up Tuscany, we visualize the landscape, hear the music, smell the rustic kitchens, see the gardens, and feel the sunshine. The aromas of the simmering ingredients are suddenly mixed with the local colors of their pottery, the emotional richness of their heritage and even the many films and books we’ve all come to cherish.
Our culinary region is ripe and ready to be harvested and prepared for a very similar feast. Our region—known for centuries as Florida’s Eden—offers 12-month gardens; two coasts; a mix of Spanish, French, native, African, island and Southern influences, plus a new, young, fresh approach all our own. Our farm cooks and urban chefs are crafting seasonal offerings all year. Fresh, healthy produce is available to all residents, and our cultural tourism combines for a heady experience.
Here in the North Florida, we are the American place where the northern hardwoods meet and commingle with the southern tropicals. This exotic overlap produces an ecosystem that supports a rich and varied flora and fauna.
Here we are all about water, home to the Earth’s primary constellation of freshwater springs, spring-fed rivers, lakes, and the Floridan Aquifer always under our feet. We are much like an island, with the wilder, windward Atlantic to our east and the quieter, leeward Gulf to our west. We frequent both coastal communities and bring in fresh seafood each morning. Our ranches and farms fill the daily outdoor markets with extraordinary produce, dairy and meats.
Consider that the five fastest-growing global tourism genres are ours: nature based, cultural, heritage, culinary and romance. Add to that our little known, remarkable history with its scenic heritage, vintage architecture, nostalgic main streets and charming hamlets; then overlay a network of hiking, cycling, kayaking and equine trails connecting urban and rural environs, and you can begin to grasp the reason we’ve been referred to as “Eden” for centuries.
Ponce de Leon’s search for the Fountain of Youth, De Soto’s explorations, William Bartram’s startling and vivid descriptions, John Muir’s visionary walk to the Gulf, the old Bellamy Road and the ancient Timucuan paths all lead you through the region with sweet and savory stops along the way.
Now this Eden is the headwaters of a powerful and sustainable Voice offering new leadership choices for Florida’s future. We’re growing innovation technologies; we’re a wellspring pumping out exciting startups and a new energy center for entrepreneurs. With a burgeoning young population that cares about food production and supports food security, we are entering an era when it’s exciting to understand what it means to live in a complex, sustainable 21st-Century Eden.
This is a community web portrayal, and we invite you to participate. We’d love for you to add your endeavors to develop the culinary and agriculture sections of GainesvilleConnect. Tell us your exciting culinary stories and post your happenings. If you’re a new arrival, welcome! We look forward to your participation. If you’re visiting, we invite you to choose and explore the local offerings we’ve listed here. In the weeks and months to come, we’ll highlight story lines and offer tours. If you are booking a guided tour, please contact us and we’ll help direct you!
Explore, discover, taste and then share your stories, pictures and videos.