As many of you know, for close to a decade we’ve traveled to regions across the US to learn how other people are intentionally employing regenerative practices to support our natural ecosystem and our society. When we first began, we hardly knew of any projects in FL. Well, that has certainly changed in recent years and we’re now having the great privilege to be learning from folks locally who have embraced a lifestyle that honors nature and our future.
A few weeks back, we attended an event hosted by Andy Firk at his homestead, Bamboo Grove. Andy is an educator, wildcrafter, forager, social activist, and all-around superhero.
Since 1993, he has stewarded the two-acre food forest and homestead in Arcadia. The property is home to a great collection of perennial vegetables and herbs that includes: over 200 heirloom fruits, 35 clumping bamboo species, medicinal plants, natives, a permaculture plants nursery and more. He specializes in true yams and culinary gingers.
Andy generously shares his wealth of knowledge. He regularly leads plant walks and presents on a wide variety of plant topics. He has written a book entitled Florida Foraging: Volume One – 150 common Wild Edible Plants. He also created and maintains http://www.floridaforaging.com/ A constantly expanding website designed to assist novice and expert growers and harvesters alike in their identification, culture, harvest, and preparation of the freshest, most local foods available.
His wealth of plant knowledge is astounding but what impresses us the most is how he practices social permaculture to the highest degree. Andy recognizes that he’s a part of a thriving ecosystem. He loves to connect and network Earth-loving plant people with one another. He has given away over 10,000 potted plants. He embraces gift economies, barter networks, frugal living, and guerrilla fruit tree planting. He both literally and figuratively plants seeds wherever he goes.
He invites kind and courteous visitors to make appointments to come to his homestead. And exchange for volunteering time and energy, he will even let you stay on the property.
After Hurricane Ian rampaged Arcadia, Andy and his crew set to work to help members of his community. They started by collecting fresh, healthy food and goods (shout out
to Jungle Jay of the Beacon Food Forest in Clearwater for his generous contributions). With their supplies in tow, Andy and his crew went to the lowest income areas in Arcadia. They first visited a kind woman who gives away her mangos. Once they got her settled, he asked her who she thought needed help and she directed him to a gentleman who is older and disabled. They helped that gentleman and asked him who needed help next and repeated the process the rest of the day. Months after the storm, they have continued to bring donations to this beautiful in-need community.
We are very inspired by Andy. He has joyfully committed himself to the Earth and all her children. We look forward to deepening our connection with him and learning more. He will be staying in Gulfport soon and leading a plant walk on the Pinellas Trail. Stay tuned to join in!
The next event we’ll be attending is: Essentials of FL Permaculture workshop in Gulfport taught by Robin Greenfield and Eric Lewis. We hope to see you there!