Sustainable Living: HEART Village for sustainable agriculture

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During today’s sustainable living show (10/11/2021) we caught up with Josh Jamison who is an Agriculture Manager at HEART Village, a sustainable agriculture demonstration site, in Lake Wales, Florida. Jamison is an edible plant enthusiast and small-scale farmer who graduated from the HEART program back in 2010.

When Jamison moved to Florida back in 2010, he started training at the HEART Village and was interested in working on international poverty and malnutrition. 

“HEART stands for Hunger, Education and Resources Training and it’s a simulated developing world village … the idea is if you live there for 15 weeks it’s kind of like if you went to Africa or Southeast Asia or Latin America and live in a village setting. You’ll learn about basic skills that you could use in underdeveloped settings,” said Jamison. “It’s like a college program so you enroll for a semester.”

With all the fruits and vegetables being grown at the HEART village, Jamison touches on which plants experience the most success in the warm, moist Florida weather. 

“We have lots of perennial leafy greens that we are able to eat through the warm season, about 8 months out of the year. Chaya and casa are two lesser-known perennial leafy greens that tolerate tropical weather,” said Jamison

There is a nursery at the HEART Village where you can find Chaya, but Jamison says you can also find some Chaya at your local nursery.

The village also has animals living on it that produce food for the people that are staying there. At the village, you will learn how to raise these animals for the production of milk, eggs, fertilizer and meat in the context of a small-scale subsistence farm.

“It’s a diversity model,” said Jamison. “It’s also the reality of most people who live in the tropics, people in the tropics raise chickens and other small animals alongside their gardens and farms. You don’t have a functional ecosystem without fauna.”

In terms of the most delicious plants to grow, Jamison did not hesitate to mention the types of fruits he is currently growing. 

“Mangoes and jackfruits and all these more common tropical fruits. There’s so many kinds of different fruit we can grow in Florida. I’m very excited about mulberries. That’s one of the tastiest berries we can grow in the entirety of the state,” said Jamison 

Tours of the HEART Village are available to the public. Jamison says you can call (863-638-1188) and schedule a tour of the village.

Listen to the show here: