Little River Market: Small Urban Farm with Big Flavors

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Muriel Olivares always excels at what she does. Her world is full of colors and creation. At age 11, she was accepted to the magnet art program at South Miami Middle School and from there she went to the New World School of the Arts. She did well and was accepted at the San Francisco Art Institute on a full scholarship. All the stars were aligned for Muriel to charge into the art world and then she discovered flowers....

Like many college students looking for some additional income, she got a job at a florist making and selling fresh bouquets, one more beautiful than the other. But pretty bouquets were not enough to satisfy this inquisitive spirit and after learning everything she could about botany and agriculture, she found sustainable agriculture to be her new calling.

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Today Muriel owns and operates Little River Market Garden. A small 1/4 acre located in Little Haiti that was overgrown grass in May, has recently , become a sustainable CSA, producing 40 different vegetables, 16 herbs and about 20 varieties of flowers. Thank volunteers and friends.

Consumer Supported Agriculture, CSA, has become a popular way for consumers to buy local produce. Farmers sell "shares" of their crops in advance, then buyers pick up a weekly box or bag of vegetables. Muriel's CSA, although small, was highly anticipated and her shares have already been sold for the season. "There is so much demand in this area" with the closest farms being down in the Redland, this urban farm is definitely forging new ground in Miami.

In order to prepare herself for this endeavor, she did a series of internships in organic farming. You have to wonder how those who trained her feel about the competition. "The community of growers is small and very supportive." From Bee Heaven Farm in Redland, Florida to Four Winds Farm in Hudson Valley, New York, Muriel tells us that the experience was invaluable and she still seeks advice from her mentors regularly.

So what's in store for this budding farmer at Little Market Garden? "I want to continue to grow, adding more land and offering greater variety to the community." With sold out shares we anticipate big things. Fortunately we won't have to wait until next year for a share to open up; Muriel sells her crop to a few local restaurants and will be selling her produce and bouquets, full of herbs and flowers, at several farmers markets once the season starts.

Being charming and persuasive, we were able to finagle our way to some fresh callaloo and okra. The okra is from the same crop that we tried at Michael's Genuine earlier this week. His are wood roasted; we were given Muriel's family recipe and enjoyed a rich and flavorful quiche for dinner.

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Muriel's Quiche

Ingredients:

For filling:
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 bunch callaloo
6 large okra, cleaned and cut on the diagonal
4 eggs
olive oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste

For pastry dough:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

Saute the onions and okra until tender in olive oil (about 10 minutes.) Remove from heat and add the callaloo (stir until wilted). Set aside.
In a bowl mix the flour, water and olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Spread into a pie shell using your fingers.
Place the onion and okra mixture into the pie shell.
Using a wire whisk, whip the eggs until foamy and pour over the onion/okra mixture.
Cover with foil and place in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and cook for additional 10 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
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