Sustainable Living: Tampa Bay Water and Southside Fresh Market St. Pete

pelican tampa bay st. pete kayak
St. Petersburg, Florida, waterfront. By Seán Kinane. 28 May 2021.

During today’s sustainable living show (11/01/2021), we talked to Amelia Brown and Brandon Moore from Tampa Bay water. Later in the show we also talked to Ramona Brayboy who is in charge of the Sunshine Fresh Market in St. Pete. 

Brown is the Demand Management Program Manager and manages a regional water conservation rebate program. The program is a partnership between Tampa Bay Waters, six local water utilities, the Southwest Florida Water Management district and the Florida Friendly Landscaping Agents. 

Moore is Tampa Bay Waters Public communications manager handling the agency’s public communications information, education and outreach efforts. 

Tampa Bay Water is the largest wholesale drinking water (tap water) supplier in the southeast US. 

“Chances are if you live in Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas county, you get your drinking water from us,” said Moore. “So that’s two and a half million residents and businesses in the Tampa Bay area through our member utilities … our water comes from three sources: groundwater, river water, and desalinated seawater.”

Brown touched on why water conservation is so important in the state of Florida.

“Water conservation is important for the environment,” said Brown. “And its important that the residents and customers of the water utilities in the area know that they can use all that they need, but they don’t need to use more than what they need … as most folks know, population is growing in the Tampa Bay area and our demand projections show that we are going to need an additional 10 million gallons a day of new water supply in 2028.”

Brown says that it is much more cost-effective to conserve water than it is to pay to develop new water supplies. Reducing water consumption is crucial to preserving the natural ecosystem that surrounds us. 

“The same water we depend on for drinking is also used for recreation, wildlife, and industry so it’s important to balance how we use our water so we can protect and honor those natural systems in the environment,” said Moore. 

Ramona Brayboy, who is a St. Pete resident, licensed chef, cosmetologist and real estate agent with a B.A. in international business, is very active in her local community and she saw a need to build her community. 

Sunshine Fresh Market is a year-round farmers market co-op that was formed to develop opportunities for small vendors, provide wholesome alternatives to food-insecure areas that will impact community health and wealth. 

The vision is to serve as a community-centric resource for a food-insecure area that provides access to healthy food, opportunities for ownership that will help create an ecosystem that develops small businesses and supports local food access. 

“According to the USDA we had 2 food deserts in south St. Pete,” said Brayboy. “And now all of south St. Pete is considered a food desert … It is considered a food desert due to low income, low access, and also low vehicle access to nutritious foods. So it’s not as if there is no food available, it’s that there is no nutritious food available.”

Brayboy emphasized that it is a completely non-judgemental market and anyone is welcome. 

“We try to create an environment where everyone is welcome,” said Brayboy.”You don’t have to be perfect. I’m always encouraging people, don’t wait until it’s perfect, start growing right now. Were very encouraging. We’re not the type of market where you have to fill out a 100 page questionnaire or have references. We tell people to come as you are.”

Listen to the show here:

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