Peace River Organics - Punta Gorda - 9-29-2019
September 29, 2019
By: Andy Firk

48817380233 2c34183dbc b

REPORT FROM THE ROAD – PEACE RIVER ORGANICS – PUNTA GORDA: On Sunday morning I drove twenty miles south into Punta Gorda for a walk-about at Peace River Organics. I went there with the goal of making a list of the wild plants that grow along the edges of this acreage. The perennially-kind owner-farmer Matthew Reece was there on one of those rare days that he was chillaxin’. Usually, he is as busy as a bee, and it was nice for the both of us to stroll leisurely around identifying wild weeds and checking out his extensive edible plantings which includes many types of fruits. His bamboo collection is growing nicely (we have been to Tropical Bamboo Nursery together where I occasionally lead tours) and I was happy to see his healthy row of Thai Beauty (nana) bamboos looking so happy as well as a Nastus species in the ground which is reportedly relished by edible shoot consumers. He has some lesser known fruits such as Governor’s Plum (which he is trimming to see how it does as a hedge). The Bunya Nut that I gave him is super healthy at around 30 inches tall so far... go little bunya! Matt is one of the few people that I know of who is growing “Fijian Dwarf” coconuts (my favorite because of their natural resistance to lethal yellowing disease and their yummy meat). I made a fairly complete wild plants list of approximately 90 species of interest. Some of these interesting wild plants included Cuban jute (Sida rhombifolia), winged yam, Lindernia, green shrimp plant, possum grape, swamp fern, dayflower, tropical chickweed, and Eclipta. I’ll organize the list and add it to my website, floridaforaging, under the “articles” section entitled “Plant List – Peace River Organics.” Perhaps I’ll lead a wild edible plant walk there some day, not sure. I do enjoy identifying some unknown plants for land stewards. Some species that were new to Matt included Silk Oak, Coral Ardisia (which many people mistake for marlberry – myself included in the past), Primrosewillow (Ludwigia), and Danglepod (a large Sesbania species that fixes nitrogen like a beast). A note about the soil at this location… I often visit organic farms that grow on sandy soil that is amended by granular, mostly mined organic fertilizer mixes. The result, although officially “organic,” usually ends up so sandy and dusty and devoid of humus and the organisms that thrive in it. I am always super stoked to see people like Matt bringing soil to life with so, so many loads of woodchips to be worked into rotting, living soil. Trillions of microorganisms live in that rich soil, millipedes and worms have food to consume, and water is retained in the soil much better so that life may proliferate. Thanks Matt, for all that you do, the place is looking saweeeet! Here are some photos from my visit. 
PHOTO: Matthew with some “Namwah” Bananas (a favorite, creamy-textured variety that the both of us relish).