Where do you live?
I live in Coral Gables, in the Chinese Village.
How long have you lived in the area?
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
Originally, I’m from Providence, Rhode Island. I first experienced South Florida when I was ten, in the 1960s. Throughout my childhood, my parents would come down here and ended up buying a small house in Marathon. I fell in love with the Florida Keys and the Florida Everglades when I was still in my 20s. I was very lucky to see it, on occasion, firing on all cylinders. And, it changed my life.
Please share about what you do for a livelihood or what keeps you busy during the week?
I’ve been a writer and activist on Florida environmental issues for 30 years. I am a volunteer board member of Friends of the Everglades and on the board of the Audubon Society, Sierra Club, and the Bullsugar Alliance.
How often do you come to the market?
I come as often as I can.
Do you have a market ritual? If so, please describe.
My ritual is first to pick up a smoothie at your stand. That puts in me in a good mood to do the rest of my shopping. I like to shop for locally sourced vegetables and fruits.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at LNB Grovestand and why?
I really like the canistel, and I love the avocados. I am happy to see you innovating with turmeric – which I think is under appreciated in the United States. And generally, I just like visiting with you.
What have you made with ingredients bought at LNB Grovestand?
I use turmeric in just about anything that I cook. I use it in stir-frys with other vegetables and use turmeric to make my own blended fruit drinks. Of course, the avocados, when they are in season, are just about some of the best in the world. You can’t find them anywhere else.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at other stands at the market?
Besides the vegetables and fruits, Howie’s BBQ at the end of the market. It’s the best BBQ in South Miami – which I only eat once a week. I try to eat healthy the rest of the days of the week.
The best deal at the market is:
The best deal in the market are the exotic tropical fruits that you can only buy fresh and don’t travel well. Some of these fruits are not available anywhere else in the country. My favorites are the longans, lychees, dragon fruit, mamey, and canistel.
I wish the market had:
I wish the market had fresh seafood. Coral Gables winter market has a vendor selling fresh snapper and shrimp, but we don’t have anything quite like that. I am very happy to see that the market has expanded over the last few seasons, but we could use a regular fresh fish vendor.
Favorite market story:
Being a writer on the environment, I really like to hear how farmers are doing. Farmers are incredibly knowledgeable about the seasons and changes in the weather and climate. It gives me insight about the way the world is changing – right in front of our eyes.
Last year, I remember this farmer who told me a story about having three blooms in the winter for his passion fruit. He said that was unheard of and that he’d been farming his whole life, for 45 years, and never seen anything like that – on account of the winter being so warm. The vines were being tricked into repetitive blooms.
I found that to be a great affirmation of going to the farmers market. The smaller farmers, growing specialty crops, have very unique insights.
Most-frequented local restaurants and what dish to order:
I really like Charcoal in the Design District. It’s Ken Lyon’s new restaurant, connected to Wynwood yard and across from the Rubell Collection. They do roasted vegetables really well, and you can’t beat their grilled fish. It’s simply excellent!
Also, Grazianos in Coral Gables is great for Argentinian food. I like their sweetbreads and they have a great roasted chicken.
For special occasions, I go to:
Milos on Miami beach. It’s a Greek restaurant. They cook very simple meals using local ingredients and their fish is excellent.
What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
Matheson Hammock Park –The paths that wind back through the hammock are probably the only place you can go in Miami Dade County that show a glimpse of the natural history in South Florida. I especially enjoy finding places where the springs ran through the limestone. They are dry now. It reminds me that we are here temporarily, and those springs are going to run again someday.
The most romantic spot around:
Do you participate in any community or philanthropic events that you would like to share?
For ten years, I’ve been a co-blogger on Eye on Miami (eyeonmiami.blogspot.com) We write about issues, not usually covered by the local press. People can check in there and sign up for alerts when we post.
We write about issues like urban development and boundaries, aspects of restoration that don’t get enough attention, and on occasion we cover local political disputes – mostly involving land use development and the environment.
Is there a question that you would like to ask the community?
More, I ask myself – What am I doing to improve our community in South Florida? I ask myself out of the conviction that everyone has a role to play and everyone’s story is important.
Do you have any words of advice?
Become engaged in the environmental challenges that are going to shape our children and grandchildren’s future in South Florida. Do so in a way that urges elected officials, especially, to pay more attention to the sustainability of our economy and our quality of life in Florida.