GrowFest festival takes over Homestead

On Saturday and Sunday, Redland’s Fruit & Spice Park hosted its sixth annual GrowFest festival.

The festival, organizers said, focused on educating people about the importance of agriculture and sustainability. It also showcased many local vendors and growers who were ready to share their knowledge and expertise on all things grown and organic.

“This is totally about education and awareness,” said Margie Pikarsky, founder of Bee Haven and the main organizer of the event.

Pikarsky started GrowFest to teach people about the importance of growing their own food.

“The idea was, ‘This is how we introduce people to this,’” said Pikarsky.

Vendors shared their homemade granola to lessons in composting.

“Learning how to work with nature is very empowering,” said Melissa Corichi, founder of Let it Rot, a composting company she started on her 1-acre plot in Jupiter. Corichi, a self-proclaimed worm queen, was there to teach others how to start their own compost.

“They say people who work with dirt have softer hands,” said Corichi as she held a clump of worm-filled soil.

Vendors were on hand selling a variety of plants, vegetables and fruits.

Jason Long and Santiago Arroyo from Tree Amigos Growers had dozens of different starter plants and herbs they said were perfect for the beginning gardener.

“I said ‘Let’s start growing plants, vegetables, medicinal herbs and flowers for people and start educating them,’” said Long, who has been managing small farms in South Florida since 2011.

“It’s events like these that we can go out and tell people ‘hey you can grow your own plants,’” he added.

The festival also included numerous educational workshops and demos. People learned how to make their own kombucha, how to start their own vegetable garden or how to cook those same vegetables they grew.

In addition, a number of community-based tents were on hand. One was Food Forest for Schools, a Miami-Dade County initiative where public schools plant and grow their own gardens.

“Why ship things when we have an abundance to grow here,” said Debi La Belle, the program’s manager. “We’re hoping kids can be the change.”

Attendees ate organic food, enjoyed local music acts and a few even won prizes. Michel Andre-Goyette who got to take home some homemade granola and Miami-Dade Sgt. Jorge Wilhem II who got to take home a basket of goodies, including handmade goats-milk soap.