Pesto for our Festo!

With our 21st Annual Pestofesto just around the corner we are eagerly preparing for the festivities of our annual end of the year hoedown. The musicians are lined up, ticket sales underway and the members and farmers are ready for the big party.

But something is different this year from our 20 plus years of growing basil. A new basil disease has quickly spread from its first discovery in South Florida in 2007 to most of the US and Hawaii in 2011. Our basil crop for the first time in my 35 years of growing basil, was for the most part a complete failure.

The University of Florida IFAS Extension has identified Downy Mildew as the culprit. It is a seed born disease that can be effectively controlled be using a combination of resistant seeds, specific cultural methods and organically approved biological fungicides.

Actinovate is the name of our biological defender of healthy basil that we will be using next season. It is a high concentration of beneficial bacteria that colonize the root and leaf surface to defend against diseases, much the way our own bodies do. This is a very good example on how organic farms find natural solutions to farming problems that are not only non-toxic, but strive to establish a balance within the ecosystem that allow our crops to flourish.

All is not lost however, thanks to our friends at Global Organics. They have generously offered to donate the organic basil needed for our event. This Florida-grown basil combined with the basil from our own farm (that has managed to survive) means THERE WILL BE PESTO for the FESTO!!

It is also a good example of the challenges that our farmers face in bringing you your weekly share.  Thanks so much for your support and thanks to our farmers for the persistent efforts and hard work.

So we look forward to a Rockin Time this Saturday at the 21st Annual Pestofesto. We hope to see you there. Spread the word to your family and friends. It is you that is the Community in our name and makes the Sweetwater Magic possible.


Rick Martinez

Founder, Sweetwater Farm

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