Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Eat amid the Crops at Geraldson

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Eat amid the Crops at Geraldson

Article excerpt

Christa Leonard first visited Geraldson Community Farm two years ago, on her birthday, and she quickly began volunteering, offering up her time and selling the northwest Bradenton farm's produce in St. Petersburg. Shortly after that she became a full-fledged farmhand, and not too long after that she began taking care of the farm's Community Supported Agriculture program -- signing up new members and coordinating pickups -- and also started handling community outreach, arranging field trips, tours and more. The why is simple: "I came out here and fell in love with it."

If you're not a member, or if you've never perused the farm's Sunday market, this Friday will give you a chance to fall in love, too. Friday evening, the farm is hosting a sold-out, 180-or-so- strong Field to Fork Dinner, showcasing Geraldson's outrageously fresh produce, as well as its impossibly picturesque setting. Located right near Robinson Preserve, the farm sits in a quiet spot just south of the Manatee River, the property's rustic charm punctuated by a tall, natural-wood barn.

Geraldson got its start in 2007, when Florida West Coast Resource Conservation & Development -- a 501(c)(3) dedicated to supporting sustainable agriculture in Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties -- convinced Manatee County to allow it to develop a community farm on county-owned land. While the county and the federal government have supported the farm over the years, Leonard says the farm is financially self-sustained, with around 250 members, some of whom even volunteer on the farm in exchange for their produce.

Sure, that's great and all, but who's doing the cooking?

That's mostly up to Sarasota's Whole Foods Market, which is teaming up with the farm to develop a menu highlighting all of what's freshest at Geraldson right now and to provide high-quality proteins for the meal. …

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