Eat Up Ocala! by Julie Vaden

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Imagine a place where fruits and veggies are free; herbs abound and a city is marked by the green, lush leaves of the Dwarf Lime tree.  Sounds like the imaginary land of Hidden Valley Ranch doesn’t it?  With a mission from a local, non profit organization called Eat Up Ocala (EUO), this very well could be our future for Ocala citizens. Inspired by the edible landscapes video on Ted TV, founder Kaycin Nickerson felt inspired to enhance her local community and leave a future of regional self reliance for her children. If you haven’t guessed already, EUO is the concept of edible garden beds. The trees, herbs, fruits and veggies would be there for the community to harvest and enjoy.  The goal of EUO or Eat up Ocala is to take vacant land and cultivate it into a thriving lot of healthy goodness. Unfortunately these plants won’t drop from the sky and the land won’t just appear; wouldn’t that be nice?  EUO is relying on local businesses to “give out” a piece of their area of land  around the  business, to be be cultivated.   Eat Up Ocala also does the purchasing of the plants and of course the business has a say as to what is planted. It is a non profit organization and therefore relies on donations for plants and materials. One of the challenges EUO faces is finding people to take tender loving care of the plants so that EUO’s efforts are not wasted and the community can enjoy the “fruits and veggies” of their labor.  How can I help, you ask. They are looking for businesses willing to allow plants to be grown at their site, monetary donations, as well as good old fashioned manpower.  Volunteers are needed to help plant and to help maintain the plants. There are several locations scheduled for plantings.  The Lime Cabinet located in downtown Ocala, will be planting a dwarf lime tree on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 1:00.  Public is welcome!  Kinetic Motion Fitness will be planting beautiful blueberry bushes some time in April, date to be decided.   Penn Flooring, located at 1201 SW 17th St, already made the commitment and they have veggies such as peppers, a peach tree and herbs such as mint.  You will find their edible garden at their 17th St.  location under the flag pole.  There are many ways the community can help as mentioned before.  The board is also looking for passionate people willing to help with their mission. They currently seek the officer positions of a Secretary and a Treasurer.  If you are interested in either of these positions or you want information on how you can help, please contact Kaycin Nickerson at 352-509-6002. You can also find Eat Up Ocala on Facebook.   If you are a school or a school club interested in learning how to be involved, please contact Claudia Pache, School Liaison, at 352-857-9240.


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